The urge to blame someone- anyone- when our plans are disrupted or things go badly is. . . . well, it’s human, but often not very helpful.
Years ago, running between work and mothering, always a little behind with just a bit more on my daily to-do list than could be accomplished, I often screeched to a halt just in time to make dinner. On one occasion, a little too late in the day, I made a tuna casserole and went to finish responding to emails as it baked in the oven. Too soon the timer rang. I zipped into the kitchen, telling my youngest son Nathan, then fourteen, to set the table. In one smooth motion, like some kind of Olympic speed skater, I skimmed across the kitchen floor while putting on oven mitts, pulled the oven door open, grasped the casserole, and swung around to put it on a pad on the table.
And I dropped it.
The glass shattered. Steaming tuna and macaroni spewed across the floor tiles. I stood with my mouth open and my eyes wide, unable to look away and overwhelmed with feelings of disbelief and frustration.
But before I could even make a sound, Nathan- in a brilliant effort to avoid being targeted unfairly simply because he was the only other person in the room- said with feeling, “Oh no! Who can blame for this?”
And all my anger evaporated in laughter.
Nathan’s words became my mantra for those times when I’ve found myself semi-consciously fuming about things beyond my control that were messing with my carefully laid plans. Stuck in a traffic jam, late for an appointment: who can we blame for this? Cat threw up outside my bedroom right where I’d step in it as I started my day: who can we blame for this?
It never fails to help me take a breath and smile. Oh, I know there are situations for which someone could and hopefully will be held accountable. (If you are looking for examples I’d recommend seeing the movies, “Spotlight” and “The Big Short.”) But even when this is true, unless we are personally in a position to make this happen, life is more easily savoured when we can let go of the blaming and move into what needs to be done.
Generally, life is better when we can laugh a little, take a deep breath, scrape the hot tuna off the floor, and start again.
Oriah “Mountain Dreamer” House (c) 2016