Today’s Daily Stoic journal prompt:
What if instead of getting mad, I offered to help?
The corresponding meditation on this prompt is about having awkward conversations when someone is doing something that bothers you, such as getting into your space on a plane or talking loudly. I struggle with confrontation–but I also rarely get to the point of getting angry at minor frustrations with strangers. But there is definitely a lot to be gained with offering empathy–and, depending on the situation, assistance. The challenge is to do this with actual empathy–not pity, not a patronizing attitude. This reminds me of one of my most cringeworthy episodes, probably 25 years ago, when I got publicly judgy and sanctimonious with the parent of a child having a meltdown at a shoe store and delaying my checkout by a bit. I called him a “brat.” The good thing was, I regretted it almost immediately (although not fast enough to apologize) and have since tried to approach such situations with empathy, which is, I think, what most parents would want rather than “help” for something I might not completely understand.
But what about friends? Something to think on for the day…
…and that’s precisely where the struggle is. To be honest, I have only had a few instances over the years where I’ve had to have a truly awkward conversation with a friend, and “anger” wasn’t the primary emotion at play–frustration, sadness, confusion, yes–but not anger. I have so far been incapable of remaining truly angry for more than a day or so; my natural desire is to convert all of that adrenaline into something useful–curing wrath with hope. I guess that’s because the “offering help” approach is my default mode, and if they’ve gotten to the point where I need that conversation, it’s gone past a place where simple help would be, well, helpful. The most difficult thing in the world is to tell a good friend that they’ve messed up. I’ve had to do it a couple of times, and been on the receiving end at least once.
Anyway, I’m wandering off on tangents. Today was a long, tiring day, but did feature the unexpectedly early arrival of my book from Finland, Dmitri Shostakovich: Pages of His Life in Photographs. I did not expect it to arrive in just 15 days, not when I’m approaching 7 weeks now on a book from the UK. Apparently, the Finns are just super efficient when it comes to the mail. I also received my large pad of 1″ grid paper, and have just one more piece to enlarge for the American Duchess 1910 wrap cape pattern. I purchased the fabric for it on Sunday–a gorgeous bright woolen for the exterior, and black with a tiny pin stripe for the lining. It looks to be a simple, straightforward sewing project, one I can finish, perhaps, this weekend. And I finished up a scribal project, getting to revisit the wonderful flourished hand from Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, which I ordered the same day I ordered the book from Finland. It will be interesting to see how quickly it arrives.
And now, to finish listening to the Shostakovich 8th Symphony while I set up a Discord server.