How is your relationship with revenge? Have you evolved past it?
The other day, a two hour drive takes four.
Bo is a champ the first leg of the trip, as he starts to get fussy, I pull over and tend to all his needs.
Then for the next and last 45 minutes into Manhattan he is SCREAMING. Screaming.
And there is nothing you can do, as you are waiting, stalled to go through the Midtown Tunnel, baby strapped in the backseat.
And of course you are biologically attached and synced with this tiny little person (you’ve taken great care to continue to be) so this 45 minutes of screaming is an onslaught to your nervous system.
I finally get downtown. I’m just about to park when I spy a parking spot open up directly in front of my apartment building.
Zooming around the corner, I pray to catch it.
Bo. Is. Still. Screaming.
There’s a sweet woman with Maryland plates driving reaaalllllyy slowly and I see her eye the spot— she pulls up next to it, leisurely, like the first day of summer, and I drive right next to her, begging:
Please, my baby is screaming in the back. We live right here. PLEASE. Can I have this spot??
(Not something I usually do— ask for help. So you can just imagine the flex capacitor status of said nervous system.)
She’s surprised. (I’m pretty emphatic.) And tells me, sure.
While we are having this five-second convo, both of us with turning signals and reverse lights on, CLEARLY about to shift into the spot, a young guy aggressively pulls into the spot and takes it.
I. AM. LIVID.
(Bo is still screaming in the back seat, remember. This guy messed with the WRONG MOM.)
Like a crazy person, I get out of the car (this is the middle of the street in New York City— there are six cars lined up behind us) and I start to scream at the guy who took the spot.
“Are you kidding me?? I have a baby screaming in the back of the car!”
He will not make eye contact. He’s a 25 year old kid, at best. Could be 20.
I get back in the car, because, well, traffic. Oh, and baby in the backseat.
Around the corner, there is mercifully another spot as it’s just turned past 6pm so all the commercial spots are suddenly available to be parked in, until morning.
I tend to Bo, my poor little guy, tears soaking his face and shirt from the last 45 minutes of the sob fest. Breathing erratically. Shaking a little. It’s hard and scary work being a baby.
I see this guy. This kid.
He rounds the corner and is walking toward me. Long messy hair tied in a low ponytail. Shorts and t-shirt. Youthful swagger.
He spots me and he turns around to go in the other direction.
I am gathering Bo, walking back toward the apartment. He sees me walking towards him and hides behind a tree.
I am still walking towards him and he darts around the corner, which just so happens to be in front of my apartment. I speed up, carrying Bo in my arms.
There’s a tourist couple in front of me, also at a “first day of summer” leisurely pace. They block the sidewalk, and they guy in front of me starts to dash down the block.
I shout out:
“You f***ing coward!”
I pause in front of his car, and stop to jot down his license plate info. This turns him around.
“Hey, what are you doing??”
“I’m going to report you.” I reply.
“For what?” He shouts, still 20 feet away, not daring to come close to an enraged mama.
“For being a total jerk!!” I shout back.
“What, lady?? I saw an opportunity and I took it!”
He starts to scream obscenities at me.
I rage, “F*** YOU!” to him.
At that very moment, my landlord is at the front door and I practically spit the phrase into his face. My neighbor, who I have only seen one other time in a YEAR, happens to arrive home at that very moment, and she witnesses this obscene exchange.
I am mumbling apologies. I have Bo, and too many bags to carry and they help me through the door.
Upstairs, I continue to be enraged and google how to hurt this guy.
“Report aggressive drivers.”
Oh well that was definitely aggressive.
But the proposed solution is to call 911, which even in my anger, feels strong.
My mind shifts to other ways to punish him.
I could write a note on his car:
Good luck with that karma.
Does your mother know she raised a man like this?
I eye his car out my front window.
I fantasize throwing eggs on it.
My mind is running wild.
And as this is all happening, the mind, running, enraged. There is the calm, studied, compassionate side of me, the all-knowing part of me, saying:
It’s not worth it.
You are better than this.
Do you battle against hate or do you choose love?
It’s a struggle, in my mind.
I calm down. I breathe. Something distracts me. 20 minutes later, it’s not so important.
But for that brief bit, when I was a lunatic screaming F*** YOU down my own neighborhood block, which is usually absolutely lovely and sophisticated, I was completely taken over.
I wanted revenge.
What is revenge? It’s our mind, insisting that WE were right. It’s a sharp left turn away from Source. And revenge can be as dramatic as being a crazy lady, screaming with a babe in your arms, to ghosting someone after a bad date. It’s making fun of a celebrity when it’s a safe distance and you are on your living room couch and they are on a reality show on a screen in front of you.
Revenge is saying: MY FEELINGS AND PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD MATTER MORE THAN YOURS.
It’s ugly. And it’s inherently wrong.
I’m obviously not super proud of what happened the other day.
Even though that guy could be deemed as a “punk kid.”
And although that was an escalated situation, I’m reminded of the many ways we unconsciously take revenge on the daily.
Harboring old resentments. Withholding love. Threatening. Putting people down to make ourselves look or feel better.
Especially in today’s political climate, where people are so upset and divided: What if we turned our gaze from revenge and shifted it instead to: letting go. Surrender.
What if instead we checked ourselves. Thought before we spoke. Thought “hey, is this necessary? Is this kind?”
Because ultimately that incident showed me something. I am human. And fallible.
And I could have gotten everyone in the world to agree with me and believe I am right. (Which of course I did with the couple people closest to me right when it happened.)
But from a distance, there’s no cause for that. For explosion. For profanity. I was wrong.
And I take ownership of that.
And if we all took a little more ownership when we are less than, perhaps it’s breath by breath that we shift this world from what it is now, to what we want it to be.
There’s no room for love in revenge.