The Courier

Often enough I remember things that I regret. 

I have a mental list of problems that kept cropping up, and variations on these same themes. My woes had more to do with a lack of self-critique than any ill will; my intent was never to do something bad, but something bad happened anyway. And then there was self-justification and my selfishness in general.

For many years, I easily became angry and did nothing about it. I didn’t like disagreement, but then I also didn’t like being overlooked in group situations. I became frustrated with being left out of group decision-making. 

For instance, if my group of high-school friends chose to go out to a restaurant and then a show, the meal would often be in a place I didn’t like. It didn’t help that the show was lousy half the time too!

After a while, I stopped being social because my input never seemed to matter. I became bitter, and angry, mostly because I held onto the idea that I had a right to influence my group of friends.

Thirty years later it seems obvious that I had the wrong friends, for me that is, and that it was my own carelessness in personal relations that was my problem.

I remember a young woman once sharing a humorous newspaper with me, and not knowing how to react. Instead of reciprocating in some way, asking her to have a cup of coffee at Hart House, I dismissed her as someone who was too loud and vulgar to be good company. Her fault, so to speak, was being cheerful and enthusiastic. 

So once again, I cut off my nose in spite of my face.  I developed anti-social habits because I spent too much time sulking about everybody else’s bad behaviour and that only made things awkward when attempting to be friendly. I would show up for social events without saying much, and really had nothing I wanted to say. I was also a cultural snob, and ended up demonstrating how uncultured and anti-social I actually was!

Looking back at all of this, it seems obvious that I made no real effort to be courteous or friendly, and so I isolated myself and helped feed the anger that had a grip on me. Instead of changing myself, and seeking out sincere friends, I chose to live as though my wishes and ideas were the “real world”. The world was never for me to control, but half out of fear and half out of laziness, I behaved as though it were.

In the end, much of what was going on would have been an interior kind of conflict, and few people told me that they were put off by my behaviour. That might have helped! 

All in all, I regret not having tried to be kinder and more loving towards my neighbours. Had I done this, I would have been much happier much sooner!

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