Last October I was at a friend’s 80th birthday party in Northern California. The party was held on the top floor of an old three-story building that looked as if it had been there a while, confirmed by the cranky elevator. Having driven 5 hours to get there, I went into the ladies’ room before joining the party.
The stall I entered was large, designed for a wheelchair. I turned to lock the door, reaching out to the normal place a lock is located, about mid-waist.
My hand flailed. Nothing. No lock. I swung my eyes across the door and—surprised—discovered the lock was installed on the top left edge of the door. The top left edge. Above my head. In a stall designed for a wheelchair.
On that cue, one of my characters showed up.
This character, whom I subsequently dubbed “Quality Control” (QC) Cindy, instantly found fault with this lock arrangement.
“How,” she thought, “would someone think that putting a lock on the top of a disabled bathroom door frame would be a good idea?”
QC Cindy imagined the next steps to be taken. Confront management. Deliver some choice words of criticism. All in the name of righteousness because, clearly, the door lock situation simply “wasn’t right.” Unknown people would suffer. And it was QC Cindy’s job to make it right, to point out the error of their ways. To super-hero in and “fix” it.
Mind you, this business had been operating in this town for an unknown number of years without any local upset just fine. And I had been operating for years on the planet ignorant of this apparent “failure,” without any personal distress about it. In fact, until I walked into the stall, I was chill, looking forward to a nice party. QC Cindy’s appearance was threatening to undo all of that.
I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation for about three years. One of the main messages in the teachings is to try and create space between our thoughts and what we do next. In that space there’s distance and less attachment.
Out of that lesson—with a degree of presence—I found a small window of space to “see” the self-created drama in front of me. I suddenly recognized the QC Judge that was there, with her metaphorical checklist of how things should be done, finding fault when it wasn’t done “right.”
I “saw” a character. In that moment of witnessing “a character,” I was able to stop identifying the “character” as me. I was no longer attached to or invested in her opinions.
She was just…a character.
And I laughed.
Because I recognized her. And because I knew she would appear again when the right cue was delivered. And that, unless I was mindful of the cue-and-response, I’d be, again, pulling my QC Checklist out to “make things right.”
Anyone else out there have a QC character performing in their personal dramas?