What’s in your cup?

A few interesting occurrences happened when I last visited my dad in an assisted living facility. I saw something earlier in the day on Facebook about spilling coffee. The vignette talked about if we were walking with the cup full of coffee and we got bumped, would it be coffee spilling? The answer of course is yes, but only because there was coffee in the cup. What if it was tea, soup, flour, or marbles? The point being, we spill whatever’s in the cup, and then the meme likened this cup to ourselves. So if you are inconvenienced, what spills out of you? What are you carrying that will come pouring out when someone inconveniences you?

So later, I took dad downstairs to dinner, which is a bit of an arduous task for my father who has emphysema and is on oxygen. With many stops to catch his breath, made worse because he breaths through is mouth when the oxygen goes to his nose, in the past I would have become very impatient at best or angry at worst. I would have been blaming him for smoking and not taking care of his health and now it makes a three-minute journey into 15 minutes. That is what I carried in my cup back then, lots of anger. Now, I just stay in the loving and enjoy be present with him; I like my cup much better now!

This metaphor was enhanced twice more when we finally made it to the dining room; there was a line waiting to get in and so we were standing there talking. A woman, also in a walker, comes up behind us and engages me in light conversation. She then asked if a table for four becomes open, could she join us? In the past, because I was so externally focused, I would have felt duty-bound to accept her request in order not to disappoint her, even if I did not really want her to join us for whatever reason.

That, too, was a cup I carried around. I am so lucky to now have, as I have stated in other blogs, what I call “healthfully selfishness.” I don’t get to see my dad that much and I want to maximize my time with him. I nicely thanked the woman for her invitation and politely begged off explaining why. To her credit, she graciously accepted; whether this is because I phrased my declination in a non-threatening manner or she too was internally focused, I can’t say. And then the next interesting occurrence happened.

A couple of women came up behind the lady I had been talking with, and a bit of an altercation started. The woman I had been speaking with accused the woman behind her, also in a walker, of running into her. They exchanged a couple of words and then even began to get personal! Literally like children, “Yeah, well you never smile!” “I do so!”

I almost started laughing out loud not only at what was being said, but because the woman I had been talking with actually had run into me with her walker when she first got in line! We tend to project on others, either negatively or positively, when we do not want to confront behavior we don’t want to see in ourselves. In this case, a woman who had encroached on my space and not wanting to see herself as rude, unaware, etc. jumped all over the woman behind her doing the same thing! Anytime (and I don’t tend to use the words any, every, etc. often, but in this case, it fits) we feel an emotion, it is a signpost to our internal state of being.

If we become angry with someone, it is because we see in him or her what we choose to deny in ourselves. Humans are a relational species, and we are constantly acting as mirrors for those around us and then the other person also acts as a mirror for us. When we accept this, we begin to use our emotions for what they are, a wake up call for internal introspection that we need to address. If my wife says something and I find myself reacting, I don’t see what she said as criticism, but wonder why I am taking it as criticism?

While we tend to see this more easily when the feeling is negative, it also works in reverse. If there is a person whom you admire, they too are acting as a mirror and showing you that you have the same positive traits within yourself that has you respecting them. Do you recognize this as reality or do you say to yourself, “I wish I were like them!”

The last idea I want to cover is the “coincidence” that happened, seeing the Facebook item and then having it acted out for me several times. Most people, when they observed something coincidental, tend to think that two random occurrences just amazingly happened at the same time. However, the “co” indicates joint or mutual; so instead of being happenstance, coincidental actually means the two incidences are working together to call our attention to what is occurring. We accept this when there is a hyphen in the word, such as co-ownership, co-writer, or co-morbid.

Certainly, there are words that start with “co” that do not mean joint, such as command or conscientious. But the hyphen has disappeared in some words such as coincident and cooperation. So reading that little vignette on Facebook and then witnessing the altercation behind me was truly co-incidental; it could not have been better scripted! When I was bumped from behind, forgiveness spilled out of my “cup.” Even if I didn’t voice any forgiveness, conversing politely showed my forgiveness. But when the lady doing the bumping was herself bumped, anger spilled out.

What’s in your cup?

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