Let’s assume, as a starting place, that you are going to be somewhat deluded.
You will devise or inherit a story about the world and the way it works, or the behavior and motivations of the people in it, or the not-so-simple matter of who you are and what you do and what’s available to you. You will believe the story a little too much, get a little stuck in it, and not see things as clearly as you’d like. You’ll always be missing or misinterpreting or failing to account for something.
If you’re lucky and dogged in your desire to keep moving forward, you’ll carefully climb out of one story hole and make it approximately three steps farther before you fall into the next.
But there will always be a story you’re telling yourself, and it will never be quite right. You are going to be somewhat deluded. It’s inescapable.But there will always be a story you're telling yourself, and it will never be quite right. You are going to be somewhat deluded. It's inescapable. Click To Tweet
So, I recommend choosing the delusions that are most productive for you.
There’s an active soccer field behind our house, just behind the back fence. There’s also a compost bin behind our house, in our yard, between the house and the fence. A sports organization sort of plopped the soccer field and stadium lights in, almost on top of the houses, without consulting the neighborhood or listening to concerns about possible downsides. It’s a little bit of a sore subject. I wrote a song about it once.
When chants and cheers from the field start to annoy me, I’ve learned to imagine that the noise is emanating from the compost bin instead of the field. I picture the worms joyously tumbling around among the leaves and potato peels, so pleased to find an old grape that they’ve broken into a spontaneous chorus of “Hip hip hooray!” Who could be angry at sweet, little, blind, toothless worms, who want nothing but to eat produce scraps and poop out the perfect compost we need for the garden?
Voila. Pick the right delusion and annoyance dissipates.
Well, it keeps me from spending all my time peeking over the back fence, hollering at schoolchildren about how I’ve been wronged, anyhow.
My mom donated her car to the local humane society a few years ago. The car’s age and condition meant that they (or, more likely, whoever they contracted) probably either resold it to someone in dire need of a car or retired/recycled it through a state program, either of which hopefully netted the humane society some small sum of money with which it was able to do… something.
That’s an abstract, indefinite story that it’s hard to stir up much feeling about. At my suggestion, Mom has chosen to believe that her car is, even now, careening around town with cats in it, shelter cats who are pleased as Purina to be out on a day trip in an old Grand Am. There’s a cat at the steering wheel, a cat in the passenger seat, and more cats piled high in the back. The trunk is full of strings and feathers. Everyone is having a great time. They drive past Mom’s kitchen window sometimes (she hasn’t seen them, but they do) to wave at the woman who made it all possible. That’s what makes Mom happiest, what leaves her with the best feeling about the philanthropic transaction.
At this point, I realize that both of my examples of productive delusions involve bypassing annoyance or boredom with humans by anthropomorphizing animals. Well, yes. That’s the best way. I make no apologies.At this point, I realize that both of my examples of productive delusions involve bypassing annoyance or boredom with humans by anthropomorphizing animals. Well, yes. That's the best way. I make no apologies. Click To Tweet
However, it is possible to leave the animals out of it.
I’ve found myself much calmer on the road ever since I started assuming that every guy who cuts me off or makes some other thoughtless maneuver in traffic is just too busy considering how he’ll tell the wife who’s about to leave him at the house that’s in foreclosure about the job he was just fired from. My frustration won’t do him or me much good. One more frustrated person won’t help.
And it won’t matter much anyhow, given that an earthquake is certain to wipe all of us off the face of the earth tomorrow. Or not. But how much more kindness and understanding would we extend each other today if we believed that were true?
Well, most of us would extend more kindness and understanding. Others of us would keep right on plopping soccer fields into other people’s backyards.
It’s always been that way.
Sorry, I have to go. The worms are calling.