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Submitted by Jessica Mahler on Tue, 7/19/2011, 4:56pm
We use our meditation practice to help us become more aware of our thoughts and notice how our minds work or react to outside stimuli, and I just witnessed my mind go from a cloudless sun-filled day to gray skies and thunderstorms just about as fast as the snap of my fingers.
I was riding a crowded subway the other day when I noticed three scrawny white boys get on. They were probably about 20 years old, all three dressed in their uniform of loose tanks and harem sweatpants, all three plugged into their headphones. They each had one ear bud in their ear, the other in their hand, presumably from talking to each other on the platform before entering the subway car. I watched as they made their way closer to me, finding an open space big enough to fit them all side-by-side a few inches in front of my lap. Once they found their spot, they all reinserted their ear bud to resume listening to their tunes. Then they all started head-bopping to whatever it was that they were listening to. In synch.
It was then that I realized that they were all linked in to the same source, an iPhone that one of them was carrying. Thanks to the technology of the sprocket-like Belkin Rockstar 5-Way Headphone Splitter that dangled before my eyes, all 3 were able to listen to the same device, with room for two more. At first I watched in amusement as the trio bopped together a la A Night at the Roxbury. I smiled and laughed to myself at the spectacle in front of me, trying my hardest not to stare.
But a funny thing happened as I tried to avert my gaze: My appreciation for their enthusiasm began to turn into agitation. I felt my eyes roll as I scanned the car to see if anyone else was getting as annoyed at them as me. Like, Okay! Enough already! I think I might have even let out an audible sigh as I felt my jaw begin to lock, my temples begin to harden.
As I began crafting my own real-life version of Angry Birds, my thoughts were interrupted as one of them reached over me to tap the big burly dude standing to my right who was plugged in to some music-streaming device of his own. Getting his attention, the keeper of the iPhone motioned to the new guy to plug his headphones into the jack. I feared a fight might break out, but to my surprise the big guy acquiesced and plugged in. Within seconds, he was head-bopping to the beat, too.
"What is this, techno?" asked burly after listening for a few seconds.
"Yeah," said the gate keeper. "It's a new track by this German DJ. It's super crisp!" His two buddies nodded enthusiastically.
It was then that I realized I just bore witness to the demon living inside my head. I went from being super happy that these three boys were super happy to being annoyed that they were super happy to being downright enraged that someone other than myself was in such positive spirits.
We use our meditation practice to help us become more aware of our thoughts and notice how our minds work or react to outside stimuli, and I just witnessed my mind go from a cloudless sun-filled day to gray skies and thunderstorms just about as fast as the snap of my fingers. Why couldn't I have continued to have been happy for these boys who were bursting with sunshine? Because our dear old friend Jealousy decided to make a surprise visit to me that day. "They're so happy," she whispered to me. "How come you're not that happy? You deserve that kind of happiness, too, Jessica! How dare they be so happy when you are not! Let's start cursing them out and use the birds in your pocket to knock them down!"
It wasn't until I saw them reach out to my neighbor in hopes to share in their happiness that I realized what my mind had done, and reprimanded myself for being angry and jealous at someone else's happiness. Had I been listening to my iPod at that moment, I'm sure the boys would have asked me to test their tunes, too; a few minutes after the big guy began listening they asked another guy also wearing headphones to hook himself up, but he politely declined the offer.
We all have a right to happiness, but it's up to us to let it in and keep it there.
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