Right… being useful. I relate to Bob in a lot of ways. Had to laugh at the story of the checkout, getting resentful at the person in front… it’s funny, with me, I can be very mellow and at other times be extremely on the other side of the spectrum. What I’ve become more aware of lately is how my character changes according to how hungry I am!
I’m sure other people also experience this to some degree, but I really think I’m a little extreme. When I’m not hungry, I tend to be mellow and take things as they come – I do get stressed if I’m held up somewhere on the way to an appointment, as I cannot stand being late, but that’s pretty much it. And then there’s Mr Hyde in me… who comes out only when I’m hungry. That’s a jerky, negative, terrible person.
A very recent example is the other day I was to have dinner with a friend at her place – bringing my own dinner. It meant eating a little later than usual for me, and I got hungry. Getting into my car to go to her place, first I could hear the neighbour’s child screaming (thought: SHUT THAT KID UP!) – felt very irritated. Never mind the poor mother/father having to deal with the kid, I could have had compassion. Instead I just wanted the kid to shut up. Getting into my car… reversing then into first gear, because it was cold the engine died and I had to re-start it and in my irritation more or less floored the pedal and raced off – a dangerous thing to do at any time, and unnecessary as well. This is the kind of reactions my father used to have, and I used to hate about him. Now I’m doing the same, and that irritates me to no end!
Anyway, what this has to do with being useful is simply that as I get to know myself, knowing that I am likely to overreact out of proportion when hungry, I can take precautionary steps. It’s unrealistic to try never to get hungry, but as I am aware of this character defect I can bring it from my unconscious to my conscious mind and deliberately work to NOT react in these ways. Pray for usefulness. Rather than praying for calm, or peace – I think the idea of praying for usefulness is better, because it makes me look outward, to how my behaviour can benefit others. If I pray for calm and I just don’t feel it, that’s a failed prayer. If I pray for usefulness and then act “as if”, then the prayer has worked and my behaviour has changed.