Wednesday, 16 May 2012

 Never go to bed angry, stay up and fight. 
William Congreve 

Yes, this used to be my motto. Letting go of your ego and pride is the most difficult thing in the world. For me, my temper has always been my Achilles heel. I am very very short tempered, more so with a select few. Although for some time past, I’ve been trying very hard to control it. I have observed that whatever they say in the rulebooks about controlling temper flies first thing out of your head, whenever you are in rage. How many of us can count to ten before replying back in anger? How many of us have the nerves to go out of the room instead of staying there and prove one-upmanship over another? How many of us can actually think about positive things, when all which comes to mind is ‘screw you’? I belong to the last category.

To put a lid on your retort is the hardest thing possible. I have been there, countless times. Every time I fly off the handle, I regret afterwards. I always promise myself that no matter what happens, I will not reply. Whatever the provocation will be, I will remain quiet. But, the pleasure of a sharp retort, the sweet taste of scoring one over another, the lingering aftertaste of a remark well placed, the licking and nursing of wounded pride, is almost irresistible. Always, I rationalize afterwards that it was okay. I was not in the wrong, the other person provoked me. I was not going to say anything but they left me no choice!  Ah! The joys of being the(seemingly) rational one.

But in one secret corner of my heart, I knew all along that the choice lies with me. ‘The Power lies within’. I know I can control whether I want to reply or not. Its my prerogative. But yes, to exercise this prerogative is the hardest, hardest thing.

Once I read somewhere that a person went to a seer and started insulting him. The seer remained silent. That person went on and on. All this while, his disciples were seething with rage. They wanted to confront the man but the seer restrained them with a gesture and continued smiling at that man with calming serenity. When that person finally became quiet (I think because of surprise that the seer was not replying to his insults) he asked the seer as to why he has not said even a single word? The seer smiled and asked him that if you come to me bearing a basket of fruits and I decline to have anything from that basket, whose fruits will that be? That person replied “mine”. The seer said that the same way I declined to accept your words so your words are yours alone and do not affect me. That man realized the meaning of what that sage was trying to say and he fell on sage’s feet and begged for forgiveness. 

Moral of the story – It is easy to remain silent when the other person is a stranger. I would have given anything to be present there to listen to his reply if instead of that man, the sage was being taken to task by his mother-in-law.

As for me, I am trying to live by what Benjamin Franklin said, ”Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment”.

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