My desktop computer’s mouse is not functioning properly and each time I use it, I feel a mounting rage inside me. I want to pull it out and throw it at the wall with all the force of my being. I feel, for this inatimate object, an unrivaled hatred.
I click once and it thinks I clicked twice, opening files and programs I am not intending to open. I try to move my cursor to a word and instead it highlights entire portions of text. Sometimes I click and instead of the wrong thing happening, nothing happens. I click again and again, still nothing. Rage!!!
Then sometimes the pointer randomly disappears from the screen, filling me with unexpected existential terror; my mouse is plugged into my keyboard, yet it has seemingly ceased to exist!
A new computer mouse is cheap. Under $20 for a basic model. So you might be wondering why I’d be torturing myself with one that is clearly broken? Well, it’s because my mouse is me. My mouse is you. My mouse is anyone living with an illness, anyone living with the maddening frustration of a body that does not do what they tell it to do.
I know I could just go out and buy a new one, but I am stopped by something potent and persistent inside me that says, Wait. Be still. Look. You have something to learn here.
Sometimes, the frustration with my own faulty body can be so intense that all I can feel is the rage. But with the mouse, because it is outside of me, because there is some distance between me and it, I feel a surprising compassion for it too. It did not ask to be broken. It is doing the best it can. It is struggling just to carry on, like all of us.
I zoom out and hover above myself, a witness to my wild and unpredictable fluctuation between compassion and rage. Between love and the withholding of love, which can also be simply called judgment.
I know I can purchase a new mouse. But I can’t purchase a new body. So maybe the value and the gift here is to learn how to love even my broken mouse. To love even my rage for my broken mouse. To love my left eye, even when it won’t focus properly. To love my left leg even when it is numb and my hands even when they tingle and my body even when I cannot peel it off the bed.
As the wise Pema Chodron writes, “If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.”
Where is the soft spot in your heart where you can love even what is broken in you?
Today, let’s practice that. I know that I need to practice it, because just writing these words brings tears to my eyes. Can I say “Enough!” to my inner tyrant, to what is rigid in my heart, and choose, instead, the soft spot?