In a supermarket buying some plain soy milk for my daily banana / blueberry / cinnamon / oat bran / wheat bran / wheat germ / hemp seed / flax seed smoothie, I went through my usual ritual. Propping the cooler door open, I practically unloaded the whole shelf to get at the cartons at the very back with the latest 'best before' dates.
When I got home, I realized I had been so wrapped up in getting the freshest cartons that I had bought sweetened soy milk. Bleagh.
In the midst of berating myself for being such an oblivious dolt, I realized there was a second dynamic: I felt like a heel for needlessly seeking out the best for me, leaving the older cartons to go to someone else or even be thrown out... and for taking so long to realize I was doing it.
Then I remembered I had already figured this out years ago but had obviously forgotten the lesson. I had borrowed a car for a week or so from a friend. Before returning it, I went to top up the oil. I had a jug of cheap stuff and a small container of expensive oil. Naturally, I reached for the jug since he would never know the difference and I could save the good oil for myself.
Then, as now, a little nagging voice asked me what was so special about me that I should have the best. The good oil ended up in my friend's car.
When I exchanged the sweetened soy milk for plain, I confess I took a little pleasure in choosing the oldest cartons on the shelf.
I feel a bit awkward talking about 'good' deeds performed. Is this just ego not wanting to appear to be seeking praise? *sigh*
All the suffering there is in this world arises from wishing our self to be happy. All the happiness there is in this world arises from wishing others to be happy.
-Shantideva (from the Bodhisattvacharyavatara)
Photo credit: Arne Hückelheim