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Yesterday my husband had an uncharacteristic freak out (aka tantrum) and took it out on me.

Hours later, I was on social media when I happened upon some wisdom from a spiritual teacher who, unfortunately, I cannot quote because I lost the post. Anyway, the gist was that when faced with negativity, one has three choices…

  1. Mirror the negativity back
  2. Stay silent and seethe about it
  3. Transmute the negativity using compassion

This made me think back to my response to my husband’s outburst — I guess shouting back at him to “fuck off” would qualify as choice #1. I mirrored back his negativity and then some.

How does one even go about transmuting negativity using compassion anyway? Especially when you are technically in the right? Sounds pretty Jedi.

By six pm I’m driving downtown to grab a Fathers Days card, still hot under the collar about that morning. Ron and I still hadn’t talked. As I drive through beautiful downtown Ashland, I’m thinking about getting home and how Ron had better apologize to me when he sees me and if he doesn’t I’ll just keep ignoring him and maybe lock myself in my room all evening until he gets the message that I’m still pissed…

But I’m distracted as I wait at the signal because its that time of day when the sun is making its way down the horizon and the colors are all golden and the warm breeze out my window carries the scent of jasmine and the peonies are in bloom and couples are strolling down the sidewalk hand in hand and dogs are wagging their tails and children are giggling…

And I think about Lithia park in the heart of downtown and how nice it would be to sit in the green grass with my sweetie and enjoy the end of the day. I think to myself, dang if i weren’t so mad at Ron I would love to enjoy some sun on a blanket in the park here with a soda.

And I realized I was at a choice point. That, in fact, life is a never ending series of choice points. In that moment, I could choose to go along with timeline one and proceed home to impose self righteous silence on Ron or I could choose a new timeline where I call him and ask him to meet me at the park with a blanket and some cold drinks.

Long story short, I chose timeline number two.

Here’s what happened next.

Ron agreed to meet me at the park. He brought cold drinks and a blanket. We sat on the blanket in the golden sun and talked and talked and talked. We talked about his outburst. Then we talked about our kids. Then we talked about our goals, our fears, our big dreams and our frustrations.

And we left understanding each other on a whole new level.

I have never tried transmuting righteous indignation into compassion. The truth is I’m used to sticking with my usual strategy — mirror back the negativity then seethe with resentment and waste the whole day acting passive aggressive about it.

This time, I transmuted the energy and it set me onto a new timeline of connection and understanding and ease.

And I realized something important about this strange alchemy of negativity transmutation: Life is like your very own choose your own adventure story. Every day, every minute, every second, you have a choice — timeline A or timeline B or timeline C… etc.

Some timelines will require more of you. They might ask you to put aside your anger and give other people permission to be imperfect humans along side of you. Or other uncomfortable things that seem hard.

And when you try a different timeline that asks more of you than you are used to giving, you get to see what shifts or changes in your life because of your willingness to give something new a try.

So simple and yet so Jedi.