Friday, December 3, 2010

Nurturing Resentments

I have resentments. Against the cable company, Wall Street, my broker, my neighbor who recently bought a set of drums and practices several hours a day while managing to never keep an honest beat; the newspaper delivery people who toss the morning rag so that it slides under the prickly bushes lining my driveway; the metro planners who decided to build a booster station almost in my backyard and destroyed a perfectly lovely copse of woods to do so. People who treated me shabbily—particularly people I trusted—rank high on my list of resentees (yes, I just made up the word but it works). These include makers of promises not kept, those congenitally late for everything, gossipers with bad opinions of me (gossipers with good opinions can slide), ageists, and, well, the list is long and varied and quite colorful.

I tend to my resentments much as my late father did the orchids he lovingly grew in a small greenhouse built off the side of the family home. The flowers were exquisite and costly things that demanded patience, attention, a vast degree of love and understanding, and special fertilizer that at the time had to be mail-ordered. He spent at least an hour with his flowers each day aerating the soil, shaping, pruning and inspecting them for aphids, ants and mealy bugs.  My mother never understood his passion. He wouldn’t display the orchids openly in the house, so what was the use? She reasoned other chores needed to be done, but she tolerated his zeal. My father was a handsome and charming man whose smile captivated many. There were far more noxious hobbies he could have espoused.

 The old line is that having resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. There’s truth to that. I’m particularly prone to anger against bad drivers, but the fact is, the Asian lady who cut me off this morning during rush hour traffic is not even remotely aware of my existence. The hour I spent obsessing over her lousy road skills is wasted. I did not get even, I did not get vengeance, I got frustrated.

In the last decade or so, I’ve gotten better about letting the small stuff go. Ankle-biters no longer dominate my life. I can wax philosophical about the minute vagaries of day-to-day existence. It’s the big resentments that still give me problems.  They take up much too much space and don’t pay rent.

Still a lot of work to do there….

No comments:

Post a Comment