Arguing About Salad (I Am Never Upset for the Reason I Think)
On a Saturday afternoon, Tim and I stood in front of the produce stand in the central square of the village in Sicily that is home to us this month and argued over salad.
We were finishing up a series of stops at various shops and stands to get the food, water, and other supplies we needed to last until Tuesday, because most shops and restaurants here are closed from midday Sunday until Tuesday morning.
We had been walking and schlepping the items we’d picked up along the way for over an hour, and the produce stand was our final stop.
A few steps into our trek home, Tim asked, “Did we get lettuce for salad?” The answer, which he knew when he asked the question, was no. And the produce stand didn’t have lettuce. We would need to go back to the market we’d just left, across a busy intersection and down the street.
And that’s how the argument started.
Actually, it started before that, in the market. I asked Tim if he wanted any snacks, and he didn’t respond. Instead, he headed downstairs to get water, which I always forget is downstairs. I grabbed some chips and put them in the little pull cart. A few minutes later, he returned with heavy water bottles and put them in front of the chips, which were sure to be crushed when I tilted the cart to roll it. I rearranged the cart, and Tim headed back to the snack aisle to get something other than what I had picked out.
When I think about it, the argument actually started when we were trying to find an ATM and discovered (again) that Google Maps isn’t very accurate in this area. Tim asked if “we” should message the host of our Airbnb and ask where the closest ATM is. I thought it was an excellent idea but was irritated that he hadn’t bothered to put the host’s phone number into Whatsapp – or evened learned to use Whatsapp yet – even though that’s how everyone outside the U.S. communicates. I begrudgingly messaged the host.
And prior to that….
Okay, prior to that Tim “behaved” just fine.
Prior to that, we had a lovely morning, drinking coffee and watching the vendor who sells fresh flowers push his cart up our street and put together a beautiful bouquet for one of our neighbors.
Sometime between the flowers and the ATM, the argument started.
Looking back on it, Tim wasn’t even involved at that point.
Somewhere between the flowers and the ATM, I got scared.
We are facing a series of decisions with several moving parts and a lot of unknowns, some of which are simply unknowable to us right now.
We were scheduled to FaceTime my mom later that day, and I knew she would ask about our decisions, because some of them would impact decisions she wanted to make.
I was dreading the conversation with her (which was silly; I love talking to my mom), frustrated with the uncertainty, and scared about the possible ways some things may play out.
And that’s when the argument started.
In my brain, which likes certainty and knowing, and in my heart, which can never understand or operate in fear.
There’s a lesson in A Course in Miracles that teaches, “I am never upset for the reason I think.” Its purpose is to help us bring our minds back to the point when we decided to be guided by fear rather than by love.
When I am upset (or arguing or resisting what is), if I can remember to remember that I am never upset for the reason I think (i.e., the salad, the chips, the ATM, the upcoming call), then I can trace the upset back to its real source.
The way I know I’ve found the real reason I’m upset, is that I can complete the sentence, “I’m afraid of ______.”
At that point, I’m at the heart of the matter.
At that point, I have something real to work with, and I can choose again how to proceed.
At that point, I can stop arguing with Tim about salad.
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