As hard as it is to admit I’m one of the worst for having an adult temper tantrum. It happens rarely, but when it does I wonder why I can let someone rattle my cage. I’m a devotee of the gentle and understated guru, Eckhart Tolle. I am also a disciple of all things Pema Chödrön. Pema is a lovely western Buddhist nun with a lot of solid, no-nonsense advice about how to not let yourself get hooked.
A neighbor had moved his daily burn pile of wet leaves and (most likely) plastic and paper household garbage about 30 feet from the property line, very close to my house. The prevailing winds blow smoke into my home—directly in line with the bay window of my home office. New Mexico is very windy.
I am smart enough never to engage Neighbor-X over the fence. He drinks heavily does drugs. In the past he has assaulted me on my own property. His hair-trigger temper even has his own father avoiding him for years. I’m not a fan of poking a hornet’s nest with a stick. The smart thing to do is bring in the local law.
I sent the Marshall over and was promised the burn pile would move. Three days later, the pile has not been moved and instead has grown larger, and there are two. A second talk with the Marshall did not go well. He could not even look me in the eye! Wha? That was a big let down after knowing him for 18 years. He was unwilling to enforce existing laws, even though that is his job. It was obvious Neighbor-X nor the Marshall cared anything of my concerns of my home, vehicle and clothing smelling of smoke, and my eyes hurting all day.
Thinking about this made me so angry that I could hardly sleep. There was a visceral feeling at my core going up to my throat. A trigger of not being heard. I could hardly breathe. A panic attack. I had been violated, ignored, and disrespected. Another trigger going back to my abusive past was the feeling of being run over with a steamroller. I would think those triggers would be gone after over 13 years of being on my own. PTSD follows you, in some cases, for the rest of your life. It surprises you with no warning, like stepping on a landmine. BOOM!
In order to restore my sanity and douse the rage, I knew I had to do the hardest thing possible. I had to surrender to it, not knowing how that would manifest. I felt strongly that I was being pushed to do this. I don’t know why I am being presented with this at this time. I thought I was on an uptick of good energy, ready to evolve to the next plateau, and now this. It’s danged irritating, but I know it is in my path for a reason. Wondering why is not as important as doing something about it.
“It is a great relief to realize that to be challenged doesn’t mean there is something wrong. ‘There’s something wrong with my life that shouldn’t be.’ If you believe or act as if this shouldn’t be happening then you get really unhappy. Then the challenges you face become transformed into unhappiness inside you. Or if it’s not unhappiness it’s resentment. If it’s not resentment, it’s anger. It’s self pity. It’s complaining. For the simple reason you are misunderstanding the very purpose of life! And expecting something your mind has come up with that should be different.”Eckhart Tolle
After much soul searching by way of many self-help spiritual authors over the years, such as Byron Katie (The Work), Pema, Eckhart Tolle, Anita Moorjani, and others that are all rattling around in my soul space, some solutions came to me. There are ways I can find peace that don’t need to involve Neighbor-X. Here are the results.
I can add to the property fence so it completely covers the length of our shared property line. Right now it only covers half. That would be right in front of his burn pile so I won’t see what’s going on while I’m working. And the smoke will be somewhat abated because it usually stays low.
The fence will hide the activity, and that will stop me from thinking about it all day long. Out of sight, out of mind. Being angry only ruins my good energy and my good mood. Anger or Joy can be a choice once you get past the initial negative feeling.
The fence will also shut out the views of piles of tires, old bed springs, fencing, wire, culverts, rods, metal scrap, old junked cars, and other rust encrusted items he hoards. That would be a positive.
Since a great part of this problem is in my head, I do have control of that. As Eckhart Tolle says, to complain is to deny what is. It is to deny the current moment. Acting as if you asked for the current moment takes a lot of the anger (and other emotions) out of it.
There are three ways you can treat the current moment. Either remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it without complaining.Eckhart Tolle
The burn piles are only ignited in the early morning. Although they do smoulder during the day, I don’t have to smell it all day long, thank goodness.
I can make my own smoke inside by burning sage or incense in the morning. At least those are fragrances and smoke of choice. I call that sweet revenge—the only type of revenge I tolerate (positivity).
I can let go of my questioning why Neighbor-X wants to make my life difficult. I don’t enter into it. In other words, I am not to take this personally. That right there let’s me off the anger hook.
In can be in gratitude for other things in my life. The attitude of gratitude can’t be beat for a million reasons. It lifts the emotion, mood, and spirit. It shifts energy.
I could use the smoke I hate as a meditative focal point. That would be diving right into the heart of it—The most difficult of choices. This has Pema Chödrön written all over! It would do me some good to reread her books or listen to her books I have on CD again. I love her and her ideas and advice.
“The challenges create the necessary energy for the flowering of consciousness.”
What other solutions can you think of that don’t involve going down the path of anger?