Another Way
    The news that the former cast of "Seinfeld" is going to reunite on the cable hit "Curb Your Enthusiasm," brought back some fond memories. As I noted in a previous post, I gave up my long-running obsession for watching "Seinfeld" re-runs last fall. I'm sure I've forgotten a few classic lines or episodes. But what I won't forget is the Zen of Seinfeld, one of the most underrated sources of spiritual inspiration on the planet.
    One of my favorite episodes was "The Opposite." The episode opens with Jerry, Elaine and George sitting in the diner, waiting to order lunch. George gives one of the most heartfelt speeches of his life. I quote it here:
    "It all became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision i've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of's all been wrong."
    The waitress checks in at the table and confirms that George wants the usual, tuna on toast. George quickly assents, then changes his mind. and delivers a Zen koan of a line.
    "I want the complete opposite of tuna on toast."
    Weirdly enough, that sort of sums up my attraction to Robert Scheinfeld's Busting Loose teachings. I'm not sure exactly what I want, but it's the opposite of something.
    As the show unfolds, George proceeds to do everything the opposite of what he would normally do, with great success in every facet of his life.
    Now, putting aside the judgment of his life and whether we can make a wrong decision, I always thought George was on to something. For me, the concept of "opposite" first appeared in my use of empowering language, a concept that I had explored before Seinfeld or Scheinfeld.
    In a few selected instances, saying something completely alien to my instincts worked miracles and helped me reclaim power.
    One time it involved a woman I'll call Helen Wheels, a competitor at the rival newspaper. In the early 90s, i had put myself through a particularly upsetting breakup with a girlfriend, we'll call her Roz, who also worked at the rival newspaper. Every time Helen saw me during this period, she would feign some concern, only to deliver a dagger to my heart with a tidbit about Roz and her life, which I was no longer part of. I had given Helen the power to hurt me.
    Several months after our breakup, and still admittedly not quite over it, I ran into Helen and her husband at a local coffee shop. Helen was not 30 seconds into the conversation before she mentioned that Roz was currently in Paris with her new boyfriend. For just a moment, I let the emotions wash over me, then quickly realized what she was up to.
    "Have you ever been to Paris in spring?" I asked Helen. "It's really beautiful. I'll bet they're having a great time." I went on for a couple more minutes about the wonders of Paris, but I could see Helen was bewildered. I felt like I'd just dumped a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. She never mentioned Roz in my presence again. I had reclaimed the power from that illusion.
    Another time, I began a torrid affair with a (single) soccer mom, whose son played on the team I coached. It ended badly when she broke up with me a few months later, on Valentine's Day. I could not have scripted this drama any better.
    The problem was, we still had an entire season to go and I really didn't want to continue to see her at every practice and game.  My discomfort, mixed with anger, was getting the best of me. I did not know how I would survive the rest of the season.
    I mentioned my upset to a friend, Rob, and explained how I thought she needed to apologize for the terrible way she had treated me. Rob, in his wisdom, suggested I apologize to her. This pissed me off even more.
    But after the next practice, I walked over to her car and apologized to her for not behaving gracefully in the aftermath of our breakup and not being sensitive to how difficult the decision must have been for her. Something like that. She burst into tears and apologized to me. It was a breakthrough. My power came back. The rest of the season passed quickly and we remained friends afterwards.  
    So now, when my awareness is aware, I will occasionally consider people and situations that are uncomfortable and think about what I could say that would not necessarily smooth over a situation, but grab the power right back. It often involves delving into my deepest fears and saying something unimaginable in my Phase 1 moments, but something that my Expanded Self would have no problem yelling from the rooftops.
    It might be something like announcing to an employee at the IRS office, "No problem, Agent Smith, the two-hour wait to talk to you was an exquisite opportunity to review my life and personal finances. I appreciate your giving me a moment of your time and most importantly, allowing me to express my appreciation for what you and the IRS do with this large cashier's check."
    Hey, it's worth a try.
    In "The Opposite," Elaine tells George the beautiful woman at the lunch counter is looking at him, Instead of rationalizing why he's not worthy of approaching her, George goes against all his instincts, walks over and delivers this suave line.
         "My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents." And he gets the girl. I'm just saying....
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7/30/2009 11:36:38 pm

I just watched "The Opposite" on Youtube and it immediately reminded me of a book called "Yes Man" by Danny Wallace. I'd recommend getting your hands on it.

7/31/2009 07:03:00 am

I so appreciate your style of writing..and Seinfeld.

1/11/2010 01:00:20 pm

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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