Over the years, I have found out something about me – I am generally glad to find a punch-bag. Everytime I encounter situations that are uncomfortable for me, that are an irritation for me or that show me in bad-light; I simply go to my punch-bag and beat it up. The more I get present to this habit, the more I am present to just how petty and nasty I am!
I have gotten rather clever and good at picking punch bags every now and then; just so that I can keep them around for when I need them. If I took you to my godown and showed you all my punch-bags you would not be all that amazed – because there is a good chance that you have atleast some of them in your own godown. I have a punch-bag called – “I did not have a girlfriend in high-school”. I have another punch-bag called – “I was not smart enough to get into IIT”. Yet another one called “I was dumped”. “I was humiliated in front of….”. “My mother did not allow me to go out and play sports enough”. “My friends did not keep in touch all that much”. “Some people keep too much in-touch”. “The Police don’t do a good job”. “Politicians are corrupt” And so on. I am sure you can recognize some of my punch-bags from your own godown.
Punch-bags are very comforting. They give an opportunity for ventilating stress that gets accumulated during the normal course of events in life. But the unfortunate part is that I go to my punch-bags very often; almost as if I am uninterested in making space for the events/people/places that show up in life. Everytime I am up-against or in-the-face of a situation that is uncomfortable – I simply dont provide myself an opportunity to be there and experience it fully and may be even transcend it. Because, it is that much more easy to go and beat one or more of my punch-bags. I have done it before and I know that I can beat em up as much as I want.
But this habit is limiting the range of things that I can experience in life. It is limiting my ability to be creative in the face of unpleasant situations. When I discovered this for the first time – I tried giving up my urge to go to my punch-bag and beat it up. And that exercise actually revealed something for me.
I live in a place called Girinagar in Bangalore. Near my house is a public hall where all sorts of cultural and political gatherings take place. Everytime an event takes place, the organizers install those annoying loud-speakers on light-poles all over the locality. Unfortunately though, one of their favorite light-poles is right in front of my bedroom. Usually the events happen around the evening; but the organizers start playing loud music from morning 8 AM! And I am sure no one wants to be in this situation, especially on a Sunday morning – where the “awakening” normally happens around 10 AM. So, anyway, everytime this thing happens – I get irritated and angry. I go beat-up my punch-bag that says “politicians are goondas” and/or “the police dont do their job”. The way I beat the punch-bag is by hurling curses at random imaginary cops and/or politicians and making the scene at home even more irritating for my wife. But, the last time this happened, I gave an opportunity to myself for giving up my punch-bag(s). First I created some space for the loud-speakers and noise to be. This really relieved me of the effort that I had to invest in making them (organizers, police and politicians) as enemies in my mind. I called up the nearest police-station and shared with the cop on the phone what I was going through. He told me to speak to his superior, and then to his superior and so on. Until I managed to speak to the SI of this locality, who was kind enough to visit me at my place and really resolve the issue within minutes. I spoke to the organizers and shared with them that Sunday is really all the my wife and I get to relax and that we really would appreciate if they did not play the loud music. So they turned off the loud speaker near my house, but continued to play light-music near the venue. The Police also gave me the phone number of the local corporator, who also assured on phone that he will ensure control of noise pollution when events get organized. Events still do get organized here and they still do put loud speakers, and I sometimes still have to go talk to the organizers/police – but the these days they are far more sensitive to noise pollution than they were before. So giving up my attachment to 2 of my punch-bags payed-off! It gave me an opportunity to connect to police and corporators, people who I had never connected to in life before. People who I thought are ones that I should always avoid and stay away from. What I discovered was that they were infact very happy to be of support.
Inspired by this – I am giving up all of my punch-bags now. I have emptied that godown. When I am present, I can even catch myself unconsciously stocking up new punch-bags and give it up much before they constrain my ability to just be with things and create space for events/people/places to show up in life.