Recently, I did just that all because of a pop-up window.
Now, this isn’t a story about pop ups. So I hope you will read it through to get the moral of the story. It’s an important one, I feel. And it might save you from creating a mess.
I feel annoyed by pop-up windows that appear when you visit a blog. In fact, it’s interesting to see how much annoyance they bring up for me.
A big part of the problem is the fact that they appear each and every time I visit certain blogs. I’ll be deeply into reading the article at hand when the pop up window flashes open obscuring the text.
Since I have a small screen, the magic spot marked “X” – to close the window – is hidden above the top of the screen. That means I have to stop reading, scroll up to close the box, then scroll back down and find my place in the text once again. Annoying, right?
Many bloggers set their pop up window to only appear the first time you visit. But, I didn’t know that at the time. I just kept getting these windows every time I visited. So you see, it really started to get on my nerves.
I found it so unfriendly. I couldn’t imagine why any one would want to obscure their text – the very meat of their blog. And some highly accomplished bloggers like Leo Babauta recommend against using pop ups altogether.
Now onto the main point of the story…
On an impulse, I told a blogging friend that I was disappointed about the recent addition of a pop up on her blog. After all, the world revolves around me, doesn’t it? Everyone should organize their blogs to save me from annoyance.
Of course, her feelings were hurt. She could not fathom why seeing a pop up one time would cause me so much distress. She considers me a friend. In her view, friends stick by and support each other in their endeavors even when you don’t agree with a particular decision. Sure, she was having problems with her pop up, but she thought it was set to appear only once – on the initial visit.
In my view, friends give honest feedback. And that window popped up every time I came to her blog. At first, I was stuck on my position and feeling somewhat self-justified. Isn’t that what we often do when we hurt another person’s feelings? But very quickly, I decided to get off my position and apologize. After all, my friend was clearly hurt.
There were several sticky exchanges, but with heart-to-heart communication we were able to preserve and even deepen our friendship. I give her 5 starts for her honesty and willingness to work this through. As an extra added bonus, her pop up no longer appears on my every visit to her blog. Maybe she made a correction. Maybe my change of internet service made the difference. I don’t know.
But the problem is, I created a mess by acting on that impulse.
Reflection: Why It’s Smart Not to Harm
The quote for this week’s reflection is one that I read the day after the above incident. As soon as I read it, my remorse doubled up.
These are the final words spoken by the great Tibetan master, Khenpo Jikmé Phuntsok. A spiritual teacher often gives their most profound and pithy teaching at the moment of death.
“Never to disturb the mind of others; look upon them with love and compassion. My disciples, you must never abandon this vow.” – Khenpo Jikmé Phuntsok
Reading this was like a knife through the heart. Here this great spiritual master is saying to NEVER disturb the mind of another. I realized – even more deeply – how I had disturbed the mind of another due to my inability to curb an impulse over a silly and minor inconvenience. And then I momentarily tried to evade taking responsibility for it.
What do great spiritual teachers know that causes them to be so meticulous about the choice of their thoughts, words, and actions?
While their intention isn’t self-interest, they believe fully and know from the bottom of their heart that harming others only brings about more harm and suffering. Harming others actually harms you too.
“Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.” – the Buddha
In my case, the action may have seemed small. It might be easy to shrug it off as not a big deal. After all, I didn’t murder anyone. But it hurt my friend. It also brought me a slew of emotional turmoil. Then it took considerable time to repair the damage. I saw the boomerang effect immediately. That’s not always the case, but the harm always rebounds eventually.
It’s embarrassing to admit my folly. However, I also know none of us are perfect. And, it’s not always clear what is and isn’t harmful. Negative impulses do arise and sometimes we follow them. There’s no point in beating ourselves up about it when that happens.
Nevertheless, when we realize how much harm harming brings, it seems smart to consciously commit to not harming. And then to really try our utmost to maintain that promise.
That means being meticulous about our thoughts, words, and deeds. Of course, if we do mess up, we will do our best to repair whatever damage we’ve caused. But isn’t it smarter to avoid creating a mess in the first place?
These days though, it seems almost unchíc to be so meticulous about one’s behavior. While people can get behind compassion, the idea of non-harming seems less appealing all around. It has a moralistic ring that seems to make people shirk away.
What do you think? Do you think it’s important to be meticulous about the potential effect of every thought, word, and action you take?
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