Two years ago, I visited my older sister on Vancouver Island. I was terribly upset about my unhappy marriage and a few other huge stresses. My sister, who is a dear close friend to me, was also upset. Two years before that, she and I had watched her son dying in a Victoria hospital at the age of 49. His cause of death was hemochromatosis, which is just a condition that many people live with and keep under control.
My sister’s brokenness had affected her little dog in a negative way. The dog had developed the habit of biting friends and relatives of its owner. I was told there were bite marks on a lot of people. When the dog approached me to bite for no reason, I moved behind an end table, blocking the way. When the dog persisted and charged at me from under the table, I kicked it hard like a football. I recall uttering a kind of war cry at the time. I am not too proud of that moment, but I stand behind my behaviour. I don’t know why other people would just sit there passively while sharp teeth are breaking their skin. After that, I went into my bedroom and closed the door behind me.
A half hour later, when I opened the door to my room, the little dog came in and grovelled apologetically to tell me that she knew she had done something wrong. I petted her and told her it was all right. I didn’t let myself really trust her, though, and I noticed some other weird behaviour that showed she was quite a traumatized little animal, for whatever reason.
Another incident occurred between my sister and I when we were deciding how to spend the evening. I had been going out to the forest to pray and meditate for many hours a day, usually beginning at 5 a.m. Her idea for the evening was that we would watch the movie called La-La Land. I knew from the preview that I wouldn’t like the movie and I knew it wouldn’t “cheer me up” as my sister claimed. We argued vigorously as she tried over and over to make me watch the movie. We ended up watching a different show but my sister didn’t drop her insistence that the movie La-La Land was exactly what I needed.
During the visit, which was about 9 days, there were two or three occasions during which Rose continued her barrage of persuasion. Essentially it was about her imposing her likes and dislikes on me, but I am a very different person, despite some similarities that we hold in common. It was not a very happy time. We had been through so much together and masks of lightheartedness and fun were impossible to maintain.
Later on, when I was back home, I did watch her precious movie, and as I had anticipated, I thought it was one of the lamest pieces of garbage I have ever wasted my time on. Further to that, there is no way that escaping or denying our pain, living in our own little La-la Land, does much to alleviate it. Indeed, the sooner we decide to delve into the abyss of sorrow that we must eventually face, including being realistic about the way we ourselves contribute to things not going well, the sooner we are relieved from pain and find peace. It’s terribly uncomfortable, but this discomfort is less risky than being stuck in how we wish things could be.