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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Is there an Inner Grumpy Cat?

January is the Interdependence Project's Responsible eConsumption Month, and I've been observing it by not turning on electronic devices during the first hour I'm awake. The experience has been as different as the days.

For most them, it's been pretty lovely. The day is quieter, obviously. It finds its own rhythm rather than having it dictated by my choice of music. I even get out of the house a few minutes earlier, a plus. Truth be told, I'd say it was a revelation -- rather than adding to the day, my habit of putting on music was covering up the quiet.

And then there was Wednesday. The previous two Wednesdays were holidays, and I got to sleep in. This past Wednesday was a workday, the third day in a row that I was up and out of the house before the sun was up.

I was cranky. I noted this as I was making coffee and getting breakfast ready. My thoughts were on a repeating loop of why-am-I-awake? and I-would-prefer-to-be-asleep, a constant drone of pervasive dissatisfaction. Then I was dissatisfied with my dissatisfaction. What would stop this?

Music, my habit mind said.

No, my thinking mind replied. You have made a commitment not to listen to music in the first hour of the day.

Fuck that, said habit mind. I'm CRANKY. Get me music, something poppy and mindless. Unleash the true funk soldier.

Caving to habit mind's intensity, I hit the on button on the CD player. The party got started.

I turned it off.

What is the practice here? one of my minds asked. If this was happening during meditation rather than breakfast, what would the practice be?

Note the aversion. Note the repetitive thoughts. Right now, it's like this. But is this a permanent state? Is there, in truth, a solid, permanent Grumpy Cat somewhere inside me? Look for it. Can it be found. No.

Oh good, coffee. There's my mug. There's my cereal and almond milk. A clean spoon in the drawer. Life is good.

On a regular day, I would have turned on music, maybe danced a few steps between the coffee maker and the table. I would have bypassed that moment of crankiness. But this way, I realized its insubstantiality, its impermanence. This way, I didn't skip over my bad mood or suppress it or talk myself out of it, I saw it, I accepted it as how things were in that moment, and I moved into the next moment.

And that was better than the best song ever.
IDP invites everyone to become more mindful of their use of cellphones, computers, televisions, and all electronic consumption starting in the New Year.   Join the month-long Responsible eConsumption practice.
Grumpy Cat photo from