One of my Buddhist friends, a long time meditator has the annoying habit of talking too much about herself. Unresolved problems from her childhood, complaints about her health, blow by blow account of her daily activities . . . I get to hear it all. She does it not just with me, but anybody who is willing to lend an ear. It has gotten to the point where I dread being in situations where I know I will have to interact with her.
Visiting my mother last week, I experienced much joy, and also annoyance. Alzheimer's erases parts of one's personality and magnifies others. In my mother's case, her excessive attachment to material things has been let loose. In the nursing home where she lives, she is known as the lady who "owns a big house, with two cellars, and three gardens". When I saw her, she repeated often, "I am very rich, you know". While I knew how to be patient and validate her sense of worth, I really cringed inside.
My friend, my mother, two people who can get under my skin, real fast.
Of course, such irritation deserves some investigation. While I have been trying hard to keep the self-making mind in check, I also know I am no different from my Buddhist friend. The need to tell my story, to complain, to blab away, to be seen, is there still, and surfaces when I let my attention wander. Same with my mother. I have had a complicated relationship with money. While not a material person, per say, I also suffer from insecurities in that area. Envious of the nuns' detached existence, and fearful of the homeless life, that's me!
My friend, my mother, two mirrors for which I am extremely grateful.
Who are your mirrors?