The spiritual lesson I learnt from my downstairs neighbor:
“Well, you may be well educated but your manners are shocking! You’re so unpleasant!” my downstairs neighbor screamed, as she walked past me on the stairs of our apartment building.
As she hobbled off towards the street, she carried on ranting aloud to be sure that I and the whole world was aware of her anger.
I had said “hello”, but she hadn’t heard me. I was tired and too in my head for the words to come out the way she would have liked them to sound.
I would like to say her tirade didn’t affect me, but it did.
“Eff off, you auld hag!” I thought to myself, outraged. “Who do you think you are?! I don’t know you from Adam!”
As I put key to lock, I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this unexpected kerfuffle with the woman from 3D.
I busied, or unbusied, myself with a spot of evening yoga, and managed to calm down and forget about it all for a while.
But the following day, what was a young memory still managed to haunt me enough to make me talk to myself out loud on my way to work.
In my head, I was rehearsing the perfect comeback. Dared the old witch even look at me sideways, she wouldn’t know what would hit her.
But a couple of days after the unfortunate incident, and out of the big blue, I had a thing; a strike of divine inspiration straight from spirit.
I realized this woman’s anger was not meant to make me angry. This woman’s anger was meant to make me grow.
She was right. It was indeed very possible that I came across as unpleasant to strangers, even sour at times.
I admit I am not the most outgoing, happy-go-lucky person out there. Although I always try to be polite, compassionate and helpful, I have on more than one occasion throughout my life received a “cheerio!” by a total stranger.
And it’s rather incredible how much a gratuitous comment like this can annoy you, no matter how positively it’s meant.
However, the repetitive nature of such remark has led me to believe that maybe, just maybe, I do come across a bit too serious to others; that even though I am not a somber person, I might, at times, give that impression to others.
So basically, when I feel good or even great, outwardly, I may look miserable to other people.
As a mindfulness coach, I know this is a possibility. I also know about the importance of first impressions.
So, if I want my face to match my emotions, I must smile more. You know, stretch the sides of the mouth outward and upward a wee bit more, maybe even show some teeth.
But, why bother at all? – some might ask.
Because this world is already divided enough, and I for one, would like us all to be more united.
And because Unity starts with U, or in this case, with me.
There is a good chance my octogenarian downstairs neighbor will never read this. But still, I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you.
I am open to see what there is for me to see in every situation, to feel, to learn, to grow and to be the best person I can be. Thanks to you I saw, I felt, I learnt and hopefully I grew into an even better person.
So today, when I ran into you on the third floor with an honest smile and a cheerful greeting, and you ignored me, I felt happy. I felt the kind of peace that comes not with ego driven one-upmanship, but the kind of peace that comes with sincere fraternal kindness.