A friend of mine read the essay about standing in line at Starbucks. His name's John. He called me.
"You're a jerk." John's been sober for thirty years, has helped hundreds of people stay balanced and sane, we've been friends forever, and I love him to death and respect his opinion.
I asked him to clarify. I didn't disagree, mind you. I just wanted further explanation.
"Look, I'm no different than you. I've been there. I had "Breathe before you think" on my refrigerator, and I still screwed up. When I was younger, I would see this thing several times a day. I ate a lot more, and I thought compulsive eating would at least have the upside of absorbing this lesson. But I seldom got it right."
"Now listen: The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the best books ever written on How To Be A Good Person, has a couple of lines in it that you need to review." Here are the lines that he was referring to:
"My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my 'rights' try to move in, and they, too, can force my serenity level down."
Yeah, I thought. No kidding.
"Go back to the part where it says, "...when I discard my expectations." John said. "In short, yesterday you expected that the people in line should have known that you were the center of the Universe. How that premise escaped them is beyond me."
John can be funnier than hell sometimes.
"This is not about me" is not a clarion call to your insignificance. Rather, it is a statement that is aware of the needs of others, no matter how little they may include your needs in their lives."
"And our anger stifles that awareness. Everything from self-centeredness to rage interrupt your attention to others in your surroundings. Your insight to access your balance and your serenity disappears."
John said, "Don't do that again, OK? Watch your fear. Anger comes from fear. Even in the most remote sense, it comes up when you don't expect it. Watch for it. Keep your serenity out front. Deep breaths. Say thank you. Make that your purpose, no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing."
Particularly when you're in a long line waiting for a cup of coffee.