My little bear asked me a few days ago to write an article about pride (of course I pushed you in front, Timo, I am not going to pride myself with your idea 😉 ).
I did some research inside myself and around me to find some examples otherwise, how can I get into the subject I want to write about?
I never liked to learn empty words and cold phrases. I had a history teacher, Doru Dumitrescu, a great man, a passionate teacher. He would never read the lessons from the book. I never saw him open our history book or read from it. He was sitting at his desk, told us what is the title of today`s lesson after which he would start telling us stories about the subject. It was like watching a movie! He would correlate the story with the dates in such a way that when I got home, I just read the lesson once and remembered everything he told us. It was that easy!
But let`s go back to the pride. What is pride? Well, I could copy the definition from the internet but I chose to do what my teacher was doing, or better, I can play that role 🙂 .
Pride is like a double-edged sword.
The positive side appears in a natural way when I`ve been successful, when I had a great idea, when I helped someone with something they couldn`t have done on their own, when I met a goal, when someone close to me has been victorious in some way. If I immerse in that soul-uplifting feeling right then and there, I can boost my self-esteem, I become positive, I feel happy, it feeds my soul and it stimulates me to do more special things, for my own good and for those around me.
The negative side appears when something inside me feels hurt, misunderstood, unappreciated, ignored, used, by an external source. It can be a real situation but, most of the time it is only our mind`s creation, all because we are not able to communicate the right way with the people around us. At that moment, the amazing pride that gave us wings is now growing horns on us.
The reactive pride, let`s call it, is like an erupted volcano, it changes my entire behavior towards everyone around me and the only thing that I want is to punish the guilty parties. It starts with a boost of self-esteem, as powerful as the one in the positive pride, but these feelings are not based on real facts. In other words, I am proud just because I think I am right and you are wrong. In reality, I am not smarter, more beautiful, more educated, but I am superior to you just because I BELIEVE I am, and it is so easy, I am actually happy to look down on you, from my high throne covered in soft pillows! 🙂
If you try to explain to me that I am mistaken, you better run for your life, otherwise, I will hurt you with every single letter that leaves my mouth! If you try to ignore me, ha! Who do you think you are? If you try to give me advice or teach me something in a gentle, kind manner, you better give up! Didn`t you understand yet? I know everything!
Another form of the negative side of pride, one that I encountered in a few relationships, was the passive one, which is like a latent volcano. My behavior will change towards everyone or just towards the guilty person, which I will totally ignore for as long as I wish. It can be an hour, half a day or even a week. I will not accept any kind of reconciliation; I will start chatting with everyone in my phonebook, I will laugh and tell interesting stories, while you are around, to hear me that I can have fun and live my life without you. You hurt me, now it is your turn, see if you like it? You don`t know how you hurt me? It doesn`t matter, I don`t know either, but I will never admit it!
The negative side doesn`t disappear unless we become aware of the behavior we have while under its spell and we want to transform it into something positive. The difficult thing is that the emotions and power that feeling gives us have the same intensity, so we don`t see anything bad in it.
“Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up.” Jesse Jackson
I want to thank Zdeněk Macháček for the picture he provided for this article.
I was dabbling in yoga, Reiki and everything I could find of the healing arts and I realized I cannot meditate like a normal person (OK, who`s normal? 😛 )
I knew a lot of people able to do it, but as soon as I sat down and concentrated, my thoughts were going bananas, they were stepping on each other`s toes, trying to get first to the front of my mind.
I was doing what I was taught, acknowledge them, and send them on their merry way, but the thoughts were stronger.
I chose guided meditation because instead of me fighting with my thoughts, I could just listen to someone telling me what to do, in a very kind, relaxing tone.
I chose one of them, 30 minutes long, to have time to relax properly and I heard a very soothing voice telling me what to do. After going over every single muscle in my body, the voice told me to imagine a big, green, and full of life garden. I did. It was my grandma`s garden, behind the house, where I used to spend a lot of time climbing the trees, looking for the elves and fairies from grandpa`s stories, talking to crows, „cooking” – in the animals` trough – all the veggies I could find in the garden, reading, under the walnut`s shade, the stories about the Olympian gods. Anyway, I was happy I found a proper garden to be in while meditating.
The voice said to imagine that the Sun was setting and his rays were coming from behind me, engulfing me in a purple coat of ….wait, what? Now I have to move on the other side of the garden? I was sitting comfortably on the side where the Sun was rising, not setting! OK, I will move, wait for me!
I moved (in my head) to the other side of the garden so I could see the Sun setting to the agreed rules of this meditation.
The voice continued saying that if I look in front of me I am going to find some stairs so I should go forward until I see them clearly. Hm, OK, if you say so, I will go. I started walking slowly until I got to the end of the garden and when I found the stairs I was wondering what are they doing there because that was the fence!
The voice said I should go down the stairs, slowly. I tried to, but the fact that I was in front of a fence was very annoying. What the voice was saying was that someone dug up some stairs that went under grandma`s fence!
I kept going as slow as I could but I was in the dark, on some steps, trying to balance the smells I was supposed to smell, the birds I was supposed to hear and, a new addition: the steps went into a second garden!
My brain went crazy: Is there another garden underground under grandma`s garden?? Does grandma know that? I knew that house and garden from top to bottom, I even went into the attic once and I almost gave myself a heart attack because I found grandma`s coffin and, inside it, were new clothes, towels, and handkerchiefs, new dishes, and cutlery, waiting patiently for her to die, so we can use them for her funeral (she bought all those things, cautious lady, ready for everything 🙂 )! Anyway, if that second garden was there, I, for sure, would`ve found it!
The voice continued, unable to hear the chatter of my thoughts fighting amongst each other, saying that in the second garden there are very bright, colorful flowers, butterflies and birds, and, on top of trying to see that, there was a fountain which sound I was supposed to hear. Wait a second, Sir! You want to tell me that we are dealing with a sunset, an underground garden (lights out!) and I am supposed to believe that not only I am able to see that as clear as day, but the birds and the butterflies refused to go to sleep tonight and they are flying all over the place?! I can imagine a lot of things, but not things that contradict my logic or the way this world is moving.
I stood up on my bed and stopped the meditation, realizing I had the opposite feeling of the one meditation is supposed to bring. Because I don`t enjoy feeling angry, I called Lucy and told her the story in a funny way. Her laughter cleaned my soul and I considered that meditation a success!
Every one of us is learning in different ways in and from life, depending on our perception of things. For me, water is essential when I drink it. For fish – it`s the only place they can live.
Every year on my birthday I am in another country, that`s why I set my holiday dates around that time. Since I want to spoil myself with a great gift, I choose a Spa. Not because it`s fancy, but because it’s supposed to be relaxing.
I had an opportunity to feel relaxed in Fuerteventura, going to my hotel`s Spa. I went to make an appointment but they were short-staffed and all booked on my birthday, so I made an appointment two days later, before lunch.
With an open soul, a singing heart, and a sprint in my step, I went, on the set date, to the spa in the hotel`s basement. I paid for 30 minutes of body scrub, 30 minutes express facial, and a detox tea.
I was full of hope (I didn`t have the luggage full of dreams with me 😛 ) while entering the reception area. A young lady greeted me, asked me: “English or German?”, showed me to a seat and gave me a form to fill out (she wanted my name, email, mobile number, but she was not interested in any allergies I might have).
I wrote everything and signed it. The same young lady accompanied me into a spacious room with one bed, a sink with a wide mirror, and a shower room.
She asked me “English or German” (yes!), she told me in a few mangled English words to get undressed, she gave me a sealed pair of panties and she showed me (the way you see the flight attendants showing you how to use the safety vest) the bed on which to sit with the towel used as a cover.
“She said jump, I said how high” 🙂 , so I jumped on the bed which was covered with a big plastic sheet. An instant thought went through my mind because that looked like a scene from a movie with a serial killer`s bed; he liked to keep his “place of work” spotless and tidy 😉 .
Elena came back (that was her name) and asked me “English or German”. I said English again. I guessed I could`ve said anything at that point because I was sure she knew the same amount of words in German as well.
Without a warning (verbal or otherwise 😛 ) about her next move, she lifted the bed until I was in a sitting position and she placed my hands on my chest, like a Pharaoh, so I can hold the towel in position and then applied some sticky and cold substance on my back. That made my heart skip a few beats.
She pushed me back onto the bed and let it down, she covered my head and face with some flannels and she continued applying that freezing gel all over my body. It felt like I was submerged in a bathtub full of ice cubes.
When she finished she wrapped me up like a mummy in the plastic sheet and left me there for a while, without saying a word, closing the door with a loud “thud” that made me jump out of my skin.
I jumped when I heard the door again, this time the noise was like someone was moving very heavy furniture around the room. I couldn’t see anything through that flannel so I was thinking to myself: ”These people are moving out and they will forget about me, here, dressed to kill”.
I started thinking of a Reiki relaxation technique and I calmed down a bit. I didn`t have time to get to the end of it because I jumped again. That damn door!
Elena was back; she went through a few of the steps of a facial in a hurry (maybe that meant “express” 😛 ) like she was afraid her boss will catch her in the act of working outside of her hours.
She left me again, like a candy wrapper on a bench, but this time remembered to tell me, so I prepared myself for the door banging.
I finished my relaxation technique when I was startled again by that door. Then I heard the shower running.
Without saying a word, she yanked the towels and the flannels that were covering me, just like a toreador that wants to annoy the hell out of a bull; she lifted the bed so fast that I was already contemplating kissing the floor very soon. I realized that my arms were wrapped tight on both sides of my body, like a crepe, so I could not break a fall. The sliding stopped and I felt some slippers on my feet. Since she didn`t say anything I have decided to guess her thoughts (yeah, Wicca has its uses 😀 ) and I sat up at the edge of the bed. She showed me the shower room, the way you show a caveman “fire bad” and she mimed for me to go and use it.
I moved slowly, like a baby who`s starting to find their feet, sticking to the plastic more with each step I took, and when I got into the shower she helped me get free. She showed me a towel I can use to dry myself and she left.
I turned on the water but on today`s “offer” was only the cold one, so I tried to play with that single handle with no symbols to show which is which. I waited for a while trying both sides and when I found the right one, I saw myself covered in mud, like a little devil.
I tried to hang the showerhead in the standing position because I needed at least two hands to get rid of that stubborn mud. The shower stand was as high as a basketball basket and no matter how much I tried to get to it, all I managed to do was to wet my hair and face so I gave up. I tried the best I could to clean myself with one hand. It took me a lot of time, patience, and concentration to stand up on two feet because everything was slippery. When I finally finished and got out victorious to dry, I saw myself in the mirror. My back and the back of my legs were still black. I lost my nerve to get back into the shower; I used the towel to dry, I jumped into my clothes, got out of the room, left Elena five euros (why? I don`t know…) and I flew back to my room, boiling like a teapot (since Elena forgot about the detox tea that was part of the offer).
I felt disappointed and I didn`t know who to blame: the school Elena went to study massage or the employer that hired her. I studied one module of massage, I know what is supposed to happen there and I always expect to receive what Mara, my teacher from Dragomir`s Massage School taught me but I guess not every student is as lucky as I am. Too bad we cannot give ourselves a massage.
Another disappointment was that whatever I paid for (in the advertisement) was not what I received. Body scrub is not synonymous with body wrap!
My room was happy to see me. The feeling was mutual. I went into the shower and washed away my sins, no, sorry, the mud. I burst into laughter when I remembered that, while walking up the stairs to my room, there was a gentleman in front of me which I passed in a hurry. When I got in front of him, he asked me if I had an accident. The spa thing was still going around in my head so I didn`t pay attention to anything, therefore I didn`t reply. It just dawned on me what he was asking me 😀 .
This adventure took place in 2015 (yeah, same year, very busy one 🙂 ).
I found on Olx.ro a person who was selling the style of clothing I like to wear: gothic, medieval, renaissance, etc. and I was waiting, with the excitement of a volcano waiting to erupt, for the package.
I went to the Post Office no. 77 (it`s going to go down in history!), very close to my workplace, and I waited in the queue. I was calm, my headphones were filling my ears with amazing music and I was feeling good. There were three people in front of me, and the postal worker was moving quite fast, so I was sure I will be on my way to work pretty soon.
I read all the leaflets that were plastered all over the walls (at least 10 times), then I saw a 10 bani coin and I kept staring at it for as long as I could (I picked it up when I left, as a gift for my Brownie 🙂 ).
45 minutes later I finally got in front of the counter. I handed out a notarized copy of my ID to the postal worker and I said that I came to pick up my package.
She looked at the photocopy of my ID and she said with great importance (like the mysteries of the world were streaming through her lips):
– This is a photocopy of your ID.
– (Really ?? Oh, thank God you told me; that`s why I came to you, guys, to enlighten me!) Yes, Ma’am. I lost my ID, but I have this copy which I am using until I receive the new one.
– When did you lose it?
– (In which way is this relevant to this situation? Would you like to go on a search and rescue mission?) A few months ago, but I neglected to renew it.
– Don`t you have another ID on you?
– Yes, I have my employment ID card.
– Don`t you have a passport? The employment ID card is not acceptable.
— (So… let me get this straight: my employment ID card expires as soon as I take it into a post office. I have to tell my employer about this, dreadful company! My passport has, just like my ID, my picture and my name. If you are afraid I found, on the street, a photocopied ID which looks, astonishingly, exactly like me, and I came to this post office to pick up a package I wouldn`t know about if I was not waiting for it, then I really want to go to the post office detective course that you studied at!) I don`t have a passport, Ma`am.
Behind me, in the queue, a gentleman barges into our chat, trying, I guess, to help the postal worker, in her quest:
– Don`t you even have a driving licence?
– (Why, in the name of God, should I have one of those? It would have my picture and my name, exactly like my passport and employment ID card! What are you trying to identify here? Did I come to pick up a large amount of money and you are afraid it does not belong to me? Maybe I am a drug or arms dealer and you want to catch me in the act, while I am using forged documents. I`m not bloody Al Capone … I am better than him!) I don`t have a driving licence.
– Will you pay for the package?
– No, Ma`am, I already paid through bank transfer. I only came to pick it up.
– I am sorry, but I cannot give it to you …(she already had a brainstorming session with one of her colleagues from that amazing post office, one that had a nose for the petty crooks like myself, who are always up to something rotten).
– OK. So … how should I proceed now, to be able to gain possession of my package?
– Well, you have to tell the sender to go back to her post office and to write a statement that the package no. X, weighing Y lb. will be picked up by another person, of your choosing, who has a proper ID.
– (OK, then! Why don`t we make this situation more complicated, because it was way too simple, and for three damn second-hand shirts we can involve two post offices from two different cities and two people that don`t know each other, but they are exchanging goods, for more than 6 months, with no problems? Long live the Romanian Post Office!) It is unlikely for this to happen because the person who sent the items lives in a village and they have to travel to the nearest post office which is 30 miles away. It doesn`t seem fair to put them through this for three shirts.
– But I can keep your package here for a month, so you have enough time to solve the problem.
– (So you can hold my package according to your rules that clearly state that you will start charging me a fee after the third day. In other words, I am paying you to hold on to my package that you refuse to give me. Again, I am amazed by the training business courses you guys seem to attend. My logic bows before yours!) OK, understood. Thank you very much.
– I am sorry I cannot be of any further help.
– (Not as sorry as I am for your brain that wants to burst out of your skull, but cannot find the exit. I am sure you will go home crying because you couldn`t help me). Have a good day!
I stormed out of that place and I called Nick because she used to work at a post office. She told me to go back and talk to the manager. I told her if I go back and find the same postal worker, I will take a bite of her flesh, give it to Maiyun (one of my friends, who`s a doctor) to analyze it because I really wanted to know what that person was eating that made her so damn smart 😀 !
Needless to say, I went back there the next day, holding my passport, my document whose pride and joy was to prove that I am … me, and guess what? The same postal worker was there, to greet me. I don`t know if she remembered my face or just the dull conversation we had the day before, but she made me very happy by giving me my prize possession.
Today I have for you a tragicomedy which took place in 2015.
I was living in Laura`s studio (proud member of A Bunch of Magic family 🙂 ), in the middle of Bucharest and I was going about my normal, happy life. The neighbors started to know me; with some of them, I even collaborated on some projects regarding our lovely building.
One spring morning I opened the door to find Ms. F. in front of it. She seemed very excited. She was holding a gift bag and, with a trembling voice and a big smile, she said she came to congratulate me for getting married and she even brought me a wedding gift.
My face went from “Oh, thank you!” to “Wait, w-h-a-t?” in like 3 seconds because I didn`t understand how SHE thought I got married, since I, THE BRIDE, hadn`t. That scene seemed to be from a totally different movie (as Lucy likes to say).
After using my entire reserve of courtesy and a few well put questions to find out what convinced me, finally, to get married, in her Universe, I discovered that, in fact, her information was gathered the old way – eavesdropping – to a conversation that took place between some neighbors, at the building`s entrance.
At the end (I thought it was the end, poor me) she wished me love and happiness and all that wedding/marriage stuff. I said thank you but I reinforced the fact that I am sure it is just a name error (the bride had the same first name as me and she was living in the same apartment building).
She assured me she found out from my father-in-law that I got married to his son, the priest! I told her my boyfriend has a beard with a goatee but I know for a fact he`s not a priest (Or was he? Now she planted the seed of doubt in my head … 🙂 ).
After secular struggles (OK, our encounter didn`t last for 30 years, but to me, it felt like an eternity) she finally understood she had made a mistake, but, since she came to my door, she will leave me the gift, because she knew and liked Laura, and since I was Laura`s friend, I guess, in her mind, I was a good person, too. And yes, she did what she had said; she handed me the gift, even though I kept insisting she should give it to the real bride when she discovers who that is.
I knew Ms. F. from a few fleeting encounters and I managed to see that she had a few mental health issues; so I decided to keep the gift, a smoothie maker, the exact same way she gave it to me. I only took it out of the gift bag and put it in my wardrobe and I erased the gift and the event from my mind.
Six months later … I was getting ready to go to a seminar when I heard the doorbell. I thought it was Nick (another member of A Bunch of Magic 🙂 ) because she called me earlier saying she will come over to bring some clothes so I can take them to church or to give them away to people that might need them.
I opened the door smiling but the smile just dropped instantly from my face. Ms. F. was back in the game!
She looked upset and she started talking right away, jumping over the “Hello, how are you” and the rest of the boring introduction that makes our life more pleasant, with a serious tone of voice, urging me to give her the warranty paper from the smoothie maker, because she needs it urgently!
I opened the wardrobe and handed her the gift the way she gave it to me, unopened. It had a paper inside but I didn`t know what that was since, as I said, I never opened it. She questioned me why I didn`t use it. I told her, penitently, that I am not crazy about fruits and I didn`t see the logic of opening it just to gather dust. I felt a bit guilty, in front of this force of nature that was able to read into the depths of my soul and discovered one of my greatly hidden sins 😛 .
After she finished reading the paper, she declared, full of wisdom, that it was not the warranty certificate, but the juices recipes. I assured her I don`t have any other papers. She said that both the receipt and warranty were in the box with the smoothie maker. I said that might be possible, maybe I threw them away when I threw the box away. She kept insisting that I should look all over the house. She was a step shy of pushing me into the house to oversee the search I was doing, saying bitterly: “You didn`t even deserve it; you are not my friend!”
I tried for 15 minutes to explain the same thing, over and over again; I even told her she can take the gift back since it was unopened by me (I didn`t want to be malicious and say that I didn`t actually need it).
She looked at me like I was the one coming to her door trying to sell her my worn out panties. She vehemently declined to take it back and she left shouting, to leave the warranty in her letterbox when I find it, preferably very soon (oh, God, the echo on that stairwell was amazing!).
This dialogue took place with incredible speed, giving me no time to reflect or react.
As soon as I shut my door (and my blood pressure got back to normal) I remembered that, in fact, she didn`t give me the smoothie in a box, but in a shopping bag with knotted handles which was put in a gift bag. So I didn`t actually throw away any box! I didn`t have any reason to open it, knowing I will never use it.
What followed were a few days of reflection and analysis about my options at the end of which my brain gave birth to an idea; to write a few words, attach them to the gift and take them to her door. Knowing her state of mind (probably bipolar) and wishing to avoid any way of causing her more distress (to her and to myself), I asked for help from an angel. Not a heavenly one, but the wingless, earthly one. More accessible, I guess 😉 .
Mr. V. worked as a cleaner in our building and was the maintenance guy as well; he was very well-liked because he was helping everyone with whatever he could. We gained each other`s respect over the years; I helped him a few times so that made me work up some courage and approach him with my problem. When I said what I need him to do he looked a bit uneasy, but he said he will do it.
Three months after the second encounter I ended this “affair” on my terms, when Mr. V. delivered the gift, along with a letter, that read:
“Dear Ms. F.,
Considering our previous conversation in which you stated that I am not worthy of this gift (that you brought to my door in error) I am returning it to you, the way it was given, without the box.
I am really sorry that you have such a poor opinion of me and, to be of assistance, I am going to kindly ask you to never contact me again, in any way because I don`t deserve to be one of your acquaintances.
I wish you a beautiful day!
We never met after that, not even accidentally. One year later I left my country, so the chances of “the third encounter” went down to zero 😀 !