I chose this resolution on advice from Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodrin. I do not know her personally, although I went to a retreat in Richmond when she spoke a year or so ago. Pema said many things and I remember being told that resolving to become a better person could be seen as an act of aggression against one’s true nature. As 2011 ends, that advice recurs.
This non-aggression pact feels right because not only is doing no harm central to Buddhism, and kindness the one true religion of the Dalai Lama, but the pointy shards of my true nature are crucial to creativity.
To do the best hugging possible, because it’s a long line, I will sit like Santa in the mall and let my twin’s creations line up for their end-of-the-year hugs. I recognize them despite disguises or shadowy projections.
First in line for a year-end hug is Melodie de Bouffant. That’s the name my evil twin pinned on a young lady after I was appalled by her behavior at a meeting of the weight-loss company that employed us both. She was, when I hated her, an energetic self-promoting woman who tossed her hair and couldn’t sit still. At meetings she waved both hands to call attention to herself. Whereas I, the good twin, chose to keep a low profile, confident that I was so effective and clever at my work, proclaiming it wasn’t necessary. As I noted this energetic creature, hopping about, I hoped never to have to work with her, but should such a thing ever come to pass, I guessed I might need to befriend my own inner Melodie de Bouffant.
Let’s face it, I said to myself, you want to boast about your own accomplishments and hear praise heaped upon you. You know that’s part of who you are. So affecting a French accent, I spoke so fast as to be incomprehensible and hopped abount.
Put my left arm over my right and give Mme. de Bouffant a hug.
Next in line I see my sister, whom I love, but is it unconditional? Probably not until I’m no longer at war with her really good habits like eating totally organic, cleaning stains out of the rug with lemon halves and vinegar and washing every dish immediately after its use. I will have to learn to make fires with wood and not Duraflame logs. I will have to know when the flue to the chimney is closed and how to open it. I will need to waft sage periodically to cleanse my habitat, particularly after the flue is closed and smoke from the Duraflame log stinks up the place.
Twin notwithstanding, my real sister has so much more to recommend her, let me give her a hug.
Close to the front of the line I spy my ex, Corky, in a fiery furry red coat, a black tutu and mittens. She was a major player in my life for half a decade. Of all the people for whom my evil twin is most responsible, besides my mother, she is my star creation. In my mind I wrote her lines when she didn’t say to me what I most wanted to hear and read between the ones she actually spoke. I psyched myself to breach her defenses and willed myself to bang my head against walls and stumble encumbered by blindspots. So many times I didn’t ask the questions most needing to be asked like what are you thinking? What do you mean? Yet unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, my twin’s creation sparkles in crinkly fabrics and magical socks.
Finally, as the line winds down and all those toward whom I have felt jealous, resentful or dismissive have been hugged, I turn to myself for the right arm over the left arm hug. I hug the me who reveals her imperfections, no matter how petty, jealous or cruel.
Having embraced my evil twin, I acknowledge a shortcoming, which Pema says can be the source of wisdom, strength and feistiness. “The point is that our true nature is not some ideal that we have to live up to. It’s who we are right now, and that’s what we can make friends with and celebrate.” So right arm over left and arm and give myself a hug.