I watched another dumb movie recently. I have a penchant for unchallenging, predictable, movies. Best of all? Dumb romantic comedies. In this one a man and woman who are finding that they care about each other, are out at lunch. He invites her “to spend some time getting to know each other better.” As they sit, leaning in to each other, she asks a question about his work. Then another and another. Then one more. We know she is curious and cares to understand him; we can see she is nervous. He answers but, after a bit jests pointedly, that he feels as if he is being interviewed. She stiffens, looks hurt and sits back abruptly.
Even in the best of relationships there pass small moments of friction. Socks on the floor again or toothpaste left in the sink set us on edge. A comment about what the partner is wearing or their hair color that triggers some deeper insecurity. A word carelessly said. Or not said. Most of these moments should be allowed to pass by; they are not worth making much of. But, so often we chase them down and chew them apart and, in doing so cause unintentional injury.
Often i feel these moments creeping up me, hanging in the air a with sense of tottering balance. I can choose to respond with a not intended vitriol that somehow in these stupid moments can fly out of me. Or, i can choose to let them float by without response and take a deep breath of air full with understanding that the little things are just that. I would wish for a warm humor at those times. An ability to shrug my shoulders and laugh at myself and ask, “why take life so seriously?” Socks on the floor, toothpaste on the sink and questions about hair color are just socks, messes and curiosity. They are not more.
While watching the movie I momentarily held my breath. I could see myself there on the screen, (as the leading lady of my own life) and knew the response to his jest could go one of two ways. I would understand her retreat back into the chair, her stiffened chin and internal kicking of herself for going overboard in her attempt to understand him. I could see myself doing just the same defensive retreat. It was a relief to see her pause, and then laugh and say that “yes, she had a way of going too far when she felt nervous!” What a gift – to accept and lightly laugh at oneself!