So, yesterday, we were supposed to get Chip neutered.
We have a free clinic here, if you don't have any other options, you can go there & get your pets spayed or neutered. They will also give a free rabies shot.
I had asked Evan's dad if he could give us a ride out there. He said he had to work, and I asked if he'd be willing to wake up a little earlier and take care of it beforehand. He said, "I'll have to see." He has a really hard time saying yes or no directly -- especially "no". I should have, at that point, called another friend to see if they'd be willing to wake up early on a Saturday and give us a ride. I asked him because I *knew* he was working, knew he'd be up fairly early anyway, and I could use his truck later, while he was working, to pick up the kitty.
That was a couple weeks ago, then this Thursday we basically repeated the conversation. I meant to call him Friday to bully my way into getting him to do it - not nice, I know, but I can see that's what I would have been doing. I totally spaced it! Forgot to call, until around 10:30 Friday night. I knew he'd be asleep, but left a message anyway, then got really, really stressed about the appointment.
If you miss the appoinment without at least 24-hours notice, they won't reschedule. They're very busy, and don't have time to deal with flakes. Chip is 8 months old, he's just about at the age where he'll start to spray if we don't get him fixed, plus I hope to have it done before testosterone floods his system; he'll be calmer and less likely to pick fights and wander. Of course, I don't want to add to the feral kitty population here, either.
I couldn't think of anyone else I could call that late at night, and ask them to get up at 6:30 to take us to the clinic. I decided to set my alarm, wake up early, and call him. He didn't answer. I left a message, waited a while, called again, no answer. It's hard for me to admit this, but I was kinda freakin' out at this point. I *need* to get Chip fixed, and I didn't want to miss this appointment! Finally, Ben answered, but there was no way, at that point, that he could take us and make it to work on time.
I was PISSED. At him, and at myself. Especially him, at that time. He knew I wanted him to take us there! He could have called on Friday, even if I forgot! He doesn't know what it's like to live with no car, dependent on other people! WHY couldn't he just say NO, right away, if he didn't want to do it? I was on spin cycle, big time. A big, mad, snotty spin cycle, because I started crying when I realized we weren't going to make it.
I was so angry with him! I actually posted as my facebook status that I was frustrated and angry at someone else's thoughtlessness!
WHAT?! It's like, somehow, there I was, mad at HIM! For no good reason! I had a lot of shoulds in my head - He should be here for us! He should want to help us! His truck's just going to be sitting in that stupid parking lot, all day!
I was also looking inside - what is this about? Why am I having a hard time finding acceptance here? It came to me: I felt powerless. I felt completely powerless in that situation. I wasn't, in actuality - I could have made other arrangements. I could have made sure to save up cab fare. Actually, I could probably rent a car for the day for what cab fare would cost, there and back. I made the choice to be dependent on someone who wasn't always dependable, whom I knew wasn't always dependable, AND who had never, ever said, "Yes, I'll take you", but whom I was going to push into taking me.
I vented in an angry e-mail to a friend, but still didn't feel much better. I left a sobby message on the clinic's voicemail (how embarrassing!), letting them know I wouldn't be there. I sent a much more composed e-mail later, asking if there would be any way to reschedule.
A couple hours later, Evan came running in to the livingroom: "Oh, no! Last night, I forgot about skipping Chip's food, and I fed the kitties!" He feeds them at night before he goes to bed, and I had reminded him not to feed them Friday night, that we'd feed Peanut Butter in the morning, but Chip couldn't eat because of his surgery. I also intended to pick up the kitties' bowl as a reminder, and had forgotten that, too.
I looked up - "Well, that worked out, because your Dad wasn't actually available to take us."
If we had taken him in, there's a chance he would have gotten sick, and aspirated some of his vomit, and possibly gotten very, very sick, or died.
My anger dissipated. Not all of it - it's hard to look at the choices I made with any kindness towards myself - but my anger toward the situation as a whole did. My anger toward his Dad did.
It all worked out perfectly. If the clinic can't reschedule, we'll find other options for Chipper.
I'll look at the choices I made and, I hope, grow and change a bit.
There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening.
Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him.
By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.
This is the classic story of our whole life situation. There are a lot of empty boats out there. We're always screaming and shaking our fists at them. Instead, we could let them stop our minds. Even if they only stop our mind for one point one second, we can rest in that little gap. When the story line starts, we can do the tonglen practice of exchanging ourselves for others. In this way everything we meet has the potential to help us cultivate compassion and reconnect with the spacious, open quality of our minds.
~ Pema Chodron, in "Comfortable With Uncertainty"