“When we refuse to work with our disappointment, we break the Precepts: rather than experience the disappointment, we resort to anger, greed, gossip, criticism. Yet it’s the moment of being that disappointment which is fruitful; and, if we are not willing to do that, at least we should notice that we are not willing. The moment of disappointment in life is an incomparable gift that we receive many times a day if we’re alert. This gift is always present in anyone’s life, that moment when ‘It’s not the way I want it!” ― Charlotte Joko Beck
Recently a good friend of mine applied for an apartment and didn’t get it. She was so very disappointed that she was almost in tears, very upset and felt rejected. Her response was a very normal one I think, she felt personally rejected by the person “holding the keys” to a beautiful apartment that she wanted to live in. She, as expected, wondered why ? Why was she rejected in this way ? Since I haven’t been a renter in many years I haven’t been on her side of this situation, but, quite a few times I’ve been on the other. The side of what one might call the “rejector.” I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to call an enthusiastic rental applicant and tell them that I decided to rent to someone else. What’s interesting is that I felt very disappointed too. Disappointed that they didn’t make enough money to pay the rent, maybe disappointed that they never submitted the financial information that I asked them for, and, sometimes, even disappointed that I can’t rent the place to all the wonderful people who want it – I have to choose only one tenant ! Above all these disappointments is often just the sadness I feel when I have to tell them I’ve chosen someone else. I often know that the person on the other end of the phone is going to be pretty heartbroken by the news I have to give, and yet I have no choice but to rent to the person most qualified. If I don’t rent to the person most suitable, I know that we all will suffer.
Both the landlord and the perspective tenant can learn from Joko how to work and be transformed by the emotions of this situation. We can throw anger and criticisms at the other person, or we can realize that sometimes there is disappointment in life and no one is to blame for it. “You can’t always get what you want.”
Some disappointments are so major that they even may lead us to suicide, like being asked for a divorce by (who you thought was ) your loving wife or husband. But even these kinds of difficult experiences can be transformed by the light of awareness. We can become more free by seeing them as temporary manifestations of the human condition, instead of something that has destroyed our life forever.