Okay. I’ve got a few things to gripe about today and you’ll have to forgive me in advance if any of this seems thoroughly “un-Buddhist.” The why and hows of the following being, in point of fact, completely Buddhist will have be for some other rant.
Am I invisible? Did I forget to take the cloak of invisibility off or something? I mean, I know I’m not a large man, but I do take up actual physical space. And a basic rule of physics is that no two solids can take up the same space at the same time. (Let’s leave quantum mechanics out of it for a moment, eh?) And it seems like every day, someone is completely and thoroughly unaware of my existence.
For example, just this morning I went up to the store to get some emergency milk and breakfast items. As the checker was finishing bagging my groceries and I was finishing entering my PIN into the ol’ payment-computer-thingy, the woman behind me in line was practically on top of me. As soon as my hand touched the bag, but before I’d actually vacated the space, she started swiping her card. I mean, what the hell? It’s not like she’s going to get out the door any faster by pushing me out of the way. And this sort of thing happens to me all the time. And I guess what made it worse for me was that before I even got to the check-out line, while I was looking at the bread and trying to decide between honey whole wheat, wild-oat whole wheat, or good old fashioned normal whole wheat (the ridiculous variety of food stuffs is also another rant for another time), some guy in a shopping cart wheeled up and stood directly in front of me as if I wasn’t even there. And then, after I left the store and was walking down the street, two women who were passing me didn’t give me any space on the side walk and nearly forced me off the curb. I know I know. Ladies first and all that. But a little smile and hello wouldn’t kill you, would it?
This is going somewhere. Just you wait.
I’m sitting here now thinking about what all this means. On the one hand, there’s the basic lack of concern for other people that I’ve been particularly sensitive to as of late. The sense that people are just not paying attention to their surroundings and thus don’t seem at all concerned about running into you with their shopping cart or stepping to one side on the sidewalk or even smiling at someone on the street. Common courtesy has gone out the window. And I feel like it must be related, in some way, to an overarching sense of entitlement I think most Americans have.
Case in point. There’s an uproar about a new skyscraper being built in San Francisco. Not because skyscrapers are environmentally unfriendly. Not because it means more people will live-work-comute to San Francisco and make things more crowded or congested or polluted. But because it blocks the view of the hills. (And let’s be clear; they’re hills in San Francisco, not mountains.) I mean, let’s forget about the fact that the land they’re building this skyscraper on was actually part of the Bay a century ago, that the City’s forefathers and mothers filled it in with landfill thus permanently alerting the landscape and no one has had a perfectly unobstructed, skyscraper-free view of the hills since downtown San Francisco burnt to the ground in 1906.
Wait. Wait. It’s still going somewhere.
Things change. Landscapes change. Complaining about a skyscraper when it’s about a week from being completed seems mighty after the fact. I’m sure there was a public zoning commission meeting you could have attended a couple years ago to make sure the building never went up.
But that’s not the point. The point is that it seems like people are increasingly interested laying a claim to some preconceived notion about the Way the World is Supposed to Be and becoming incredibly incensed every time the world decides to do its own thing. I mean, my god. Get over it.
I’ll give you one final, one perfect example of this insane desire, this pointless attachment people have to the My Idea of World is the Right One and Everybody Else is a Close-Minded Idiot.
Ready? Here it is:
People aren’t out to get me. People have every right to bitch about skyscrapers. And really, I’ve got better things to worry about than to let this stuff get under my skin. All it really is is another reminder that I, too, am a foolish being a far cry from enlightenment. And to let it all go.
I told you this was going somewhere.