So last night, my apartment complex hosted a free Christmas dinner, buffet style, to all tenants in the foyer. My mom came home and insisted we go down there and get some food.
At that moment I felt insular, I just wanted to chill in the house and read, but I could tell that my mom really wanted me to go down with her – so I went.
With the paroxysm of noise and tumult that washed through the opening elevator doors, I felt immediate, stinging regret. Nearly a hundred people, all strangers, were crammed into the foyer in a long snaking line. A group of hired carolers were singing, and there was even a Santa Clause with a tamborine by the buffet.
It was the exact thing I didn’t want to do. We got in line, and I felt a powerful urge to just leave. I couldn’t believe I got dragged into this. As more people crammed in, I began to get frustrated – but then a quote my Marcus Aurilius came into my mind.
“Ask yourself what part of this is unbearable – you would be embarrassed to admit it!”
I thought to myself: “I was in a different environment, now I’m in this one. There is no difference, it’s just sight and sound.”
I started to loosen up. I spoke with my neighbors. Chatted with passers by. I even said hi to the Santa Clause and got my picture taken.
It became almost like a personal challenge to me. Do I boast to have attained any degree of peace from my meditation and other practices – and then slink away from such a benign experience? Depressed ones are those who fear and hate the public function, not me!
In the end, I played the game – and what I got out of it was more than a turkey shishkabob.