Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Fake Sun Tzu Quote

In my list of oft-referenced quotations, I forgot one:

“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
   ~ falsely attributed to Sun Tzu

I don't do revenge. Sometimes I think about it, but I never carry it out.

It's not a matter of morality. And I'm not laying the groundwork for a self-esteem lozenge I can suck to constantly remind myself of what a GOOD PERSON I am. It comes from the recognition that revenge is an indulgent distraction. It's a form of scorekeeping, and I don't keep score, in any way/shape/form, because it's nonsense. In this world, there are no winners. Even an overweight person getting into tiptop shape - the dream of all dreams for a wide swathe of the populace! - will discover that he's only moved laterally, not ascendently. So it's just a matter of shifting your perspective to embrace it all as-is, enjoying the ride (ideally while always doing your best, to perhaps help improve the ride for others). Other people's behavior runs along a separate track, so I just keep doing my best (like an ant!) regardless of injuries or obstructions arising from other people's actions.

But the universe seems to do revenge for me. If I wait long enough.

Of course, everything dies in the long run. And, even before that finality, everyone takes knocks. So, in a sense, I'm just relaxing smugly into the obviously banal. But to me, it's comeuppance. Not quite joyful (I don't cackle delightedly, nor do I passively allow harm come to people I dislike....I'd stave it off if I could). I just enjoy a quiet assurance that they'll get theirs without my lifting a finger. The ultimate refuge of the patiently non-vindictive is in knowing that people are so fantastically good at making themselves miserable that they'll do all the work for you.

How about me? Will I, in the end, "get mine"? I don't think so. Because the perspective that makes me patiently non-vindictive also inhibits me from framing setbacks dramatically. For instance, my primary memories of a weekend in the hospital for scary heart problems were 1. sherbert (hadn't had it since childhood, didn't remember how good it is), 2. strangers sincerely hoping I'd get better and not die, 3. my kindly Indian cardiologist practically swooning from the contact high of my surprising blitheness (the head nurse, figuring I was in denial, wanted to bring in a psychologist, and he assured her it was unnecessary), and 4. a quick side-trip I made on my way home from the hospital (as reported here):
On my way home, with my hospital wristband still dangling, I detoured to see a friend who'd been especially upset about my predicament. I stood outside her office window waving with both arms from the street, exuberantly jumping up and down a few times on the sidewalk (middle-aged men aren't supposed to jump) and saw awed radiant delight dawn on her face.
So, apologies to any detractors out there, vindictive or patient, but I'll never get mine. My frame of perspective makes me bulletproof. This is why I try so hard to laud the benefits of reframing (and to explain how easy it is to recover that dormant, slippery faculty)!

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