Today I’d like to talk about Being Powerful portion of my mantra, Be Patient, Be Polite, Be Positive, Be Powerful, Be Present, which sorta sounds like it wouldn’t be something you’d normally think about when thinking about getting yourself all zen and chill, but allow me to ‘splain. When I think about being powerful, in this case, I think not so much about being a steamroller, I think of it more in the sense of having the power of making the choices I’d like to make, not necessarily the choices I do make in the heat of the moment then regret later. Being powerful in this sense means remembering that you are constantly living in choice, and that, my friends, is an enormously powerful weapon to have in your arsenal if you can remember that it’s there, which isn’t the easiest thing to do.
Think about it: We say or do that thing in the heat of the moment because it will make us feel good right then. It will make us feel good to tell off that coworker that sabotaged us or that friend that betrayed us. It will make us feel great to cut the crotches out of our cheating girlfriend’s panties or to denounce our company on Twitter after they fire us. We think about the satisfaction it will bring us to see that look on the person’s face when we let that zinger fly.
And in the short term, it DOES make us feel better. We feel smug and self-righteous. We feel like we got a piece of our own, like we didn’t let someone get the better of us. But then what about later? Maybe we do say something snotty to the asshole in the coffeeshop, but then we spend the next hour sitting there in the coffeeshop not focused on writing in our blog or getting our work done, but rather steaming and stewing because the guy is now sitting two tables behind us, and we’re imagining what we should have said instead or we’re worried that he’s going to continue to engage. Or we engage in a verbal confrontation in a store or parking lot with someone who cut us off, then spend the rest of the day at work replaying the incident in our mind, our mental energy focused on some stupid event that we’ll never get resolution on and really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things anyway because you’ll never even see that person again. What’s the point? Maybe you stood your ground or said your piece, but at the end of the day, can you say you really feel better as a result? You think that person will behave any differently the next time they’re in a similar situation?
So today’s lesson in being powerful, my pets, involves making the choice not to engage or engaging in a way that you can feel good about later. I encountered some petty bullshit this morning at the gas station that I want to tell y’all about. I’m standing there pumping my gas, minding my own goddamned business. There’s an older white-haired gentleman at the pump next to me, pumping gas into his gas-guzzling truck, and he says, unsolicited, “Ya know, they did a study at UC Berkeley that tested which drivers of which makes of cars were most likely to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and they found that BMWs were the drivers least likely to stop for them. I’m not saying this is a reflection on you or anything, but the guy determined that it was something to do with the fact that BMW drivers were young and entitled.”
Listen, Andy Fucking Griffith. The fuck do you think you are? The Gas Pump Philosopher? The Oracle of Arco? Did anyone ask for your Old (Entitled) White Man Opinion? Why would you see a woman who is pumping gas alone at 7:00 in the morning and just foist your stupid-ass, shit-starting fuckwittedness crap onto her? Because you’re an older male and she’s a younger woman alone and you know you can get away with it? When men think of women getting harassed, they tend to think of women getting catcalled, beaten, or raped, but this kinda of shit is way more pervasive. This mansplaining fucktardness prevails in our lives constantly, and when women dare to point it out, we get labeled as angry twats that just need a good fucking to set us straight again.
Oh shit, there I go…digressing.
Instead of saying all of this to mansplaining Plato, instead of raising my eyebrows at his super “scientific” study, and saying “Yeah that sounds legit,” instead of calling him a dumb dildo and telling him to keep his stupid studies to himself, I said “Hmmmm, interesting. Now let me tell you a story about this BMW. This car belonged to my dad. He suffered from a debilitating disease for twenty years, and for the last five years, he suffered. I mean, he really suffered. Horribly. Painfully. And as his daughter, it was horrific to watch. And he willed me this car after he died, so I would say the adjective I would use isn’t so much entitled but more grateful. And before I moved to Oakland, I lived in San Francisco, where I was too poor to afford a car of any sort, let alone a BMW, and I was a pedestrian for 16 years, so you can bet your sweet ass I stop for people in crosswalks. So I’m not so sure why you chose to tell me that story when I didn’t really ask for your opinion, but your ‘science’ isn’t really applicable here.”
And that stupid asshat didn’t even have the decency or the brains to feel bad at that point! Nope, he just kept prattling on as though I hadn’t even opened my mouth, as old white men often do in the presence of younger females. He just kept rambling on about how some people in the world feel entitled to things and blah blah blah, and I don’t even know because at that point I had to tune him out or Being Powerful would involve me turning into The Hulk and dickpunching him as he was pumping his gas. I just quickly fumbled with my gas cap, snapped shut my tank, hurried around to the driver’s side, got in, and drove away.
Now please note, the old me would have handled it something like this:
But given his reaction to my ridiculously polite handling of his puritanical busybodiness, if I’d flown off the handle at him, that would have only served to reaffirm his preconceived notion of BMW drivers all being snotty little assholes. He would have driven away an even smugger shitbag, and I would have driven away feeling like he’d gotten the better of me. Instead, I got to drive away knowing I was BY FAR THE SUPERIOR PERSON. Indeed, I spent the rest of the day feeling like this:
I’m not saying I’m perfect by any stretch of the imagination, y’all. I still forget myself and let that middle finger fly a-plenty. I still find myself living by our national motto of “The Fuck You Lookin’ at, Assface?” more often than not. But I also find now, more often than not, that that kind of behavior doesn’t leave me as satisfied as it once did. And that it takes more of a toll on me than it once did. I don’t want to walk around carrying around anger toward strangers for the rest of the day, and since I have a choice not to engage, why the fuck bother? I have that power within me, so why not just walk away, or if I must engage, why not do it in a way that doesn’t result in me being furious for the remainder of the day?
So give it a whirl, my Buddhas. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you find yourself pausing for a halfmoment, in that nanosecond, remind yourself that you are a powerful motherfucker. Bruce Lee powerful. You have the choice to deal with the person or the situation in front of you however you’d like. You can either work toward an outcome that’s gonna get you what you want or that’s gonna make the situation worse. Whatchoo you gonna do?