Yesterday my wife and I were at a gas pump. I was pumping while she used the provided squeegee to clean our windows. Once the tank was full, it started to overflow so I quickly loosened my grip, but it was too late. There was gasoline all over the side of the car. My wife said it was bad for the paint job and wiped it clean with the squeegee. We then had an argument about whether the pump makers were at fault for making pumps that don't stop when the tank is full or if I was at fault for not knowing by the sound of the filling to stop when the tank was full. We've agreed that next time we get gas together, she'll pump and I will listen to see what it sounds like when the tank is full.
Later on, we had further discussion as to the differences in her world view and my own. I observed that she seems to have a deep inner peace and joy that is unreachable by any outer stimulus. I, on the other hand, rely on outer stimuli to bring me even the briefest glimpses of joy. My levity has no longevity, only brevity. I compared it to a pile of shit that occasionally has a butterfly briefly land on it, as opposed to a nest of butterflies which occasionally has a shit fleck bounce off it. She used the example of the gas tank to help illustrate to me her outlook compared to mine.
She used a story of a little brother looking at his bigger brother who is tall enough to reach doorknobs to open doors. Should he admire or resent his brother? He could look at his brother and want to be like him by maybe putting down a phone book to stand on to reach the doorknob, or he can lay in the grass and have a fit. At this point in her story I interrupted and gave my own analogy which I felt was closer to our reality. He could either do the phonebook thing or he could grab a hacksaw and cut his brother's feet off so that he can no longer reach the doorknob. She agreed that this was an appropriate analogy to describe our differences.
Her way is to lift herself up above her challenges so that life's circumstances don't have to be a problem to her. Just like listening to hear when the gas tank is full. My way is to eliminate the problem at the source by wishing a slow and painful death on anyone who causes me grief. It occurs to me now that an even closer analogy would be if the younger brother wished that people should either make doorknobs lower on the door or die a horrible tragic death.
This helps me to see why I keep alternating between anger and depression. I'm filled with anger that I know I don't want to live my life by, but I don't know what to replace it with so when I try to rid myself of anger, I'm left only with emptiness. If I took on the responsibility to rise above circumstances and become my own solution to any challenge, I believe I can achieve the inner peace and strength that she possesses.
This reminds me of a story I wrote called Desultory Rival in which the souls of Cain and Abel have reincarnated all throughout history. In every lifetime, Cain has killed his brother again and again. It all started because Cain resented his brother for finding favor in God's eyes through his sacrifice of choice animals as opposed to a bunch of fruit. Instead of lifting himself above his situation, he cut his brother down. He chose the hacksaw over the phone book. In every situation I become faced with from now on, I will ask myself, which I am choosing to use.