The Middle Finger

All of a sudden, the guy driving in the white Mustang behind me zooms in and -while I’m making a right turn- cuts right in front of me, slams on the brakes briefly, sticks out his arm and gives me the finger. He then drove like this (with his middle finger sticking up) long enough until my son Isaac, who was with me in the car, noticed it. “Mom, did that guy just give you the finger?” he asked. I said, “yes, he did,” trying not to laugh as not to give him any ideas. I was still thinking about the whole incident when I got to the red light and to my surprise, the bird-flipping guy was waiting at the traffic light, right there, next to us. The paradox of life, many times we think we are getting ahead, just to end up in the same place -like everyone else.

The middle finger, a simple hand gesture that get people outraged, even that picture of Elizabeth Hurley might get someone offended. We fear the mighty finger to the point that we have come to accept the finger next to it: the index finger.

Whose fault is it? They’ve got the answer!

We all have done it -the blame disease. Romney blames Obama for the economy and who knows what else. Obama blamed Bush and Bush blamed some people in the Middle East that were busy blaming U.S. I would like to be above all this but I’m not. For years I blamed my mom for choosing my horrid name, and then I blamed my husband and when he became my ex, I still blamed him. Friends, spicy foods, assorted people, all of them have had their share in my blaming game. I have even blamed random body parts of mine, (I love mini-skirts but I hate my legs so when I go with the pants, it’s my legs’ fault). The list is endless.


But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that all this blaming stuff wasn’t really working out for me. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth when I discovered myself sitting next to everyone else at that traffic light. I wasn’t accomplishing anything. My shortcut wasn’t really one. In fact many times I felt I was getting behind by wasting precious energy on situations that were beyond my control. Blaming others is just like flipping the bird, it gets you nowhere and puts you back where you left.

Where does this blaming come from? I wish I was different. I wish my name wasn’t Priscilla. I wish my legs were tanned. I wish I didn’t have an accent. I wish I always knew what to say. I wish here and there. I wish, I wish, I wish! When I’m done wishing I start wanting. I want this and that. I want a world perfectly customized to fulfill my needs. Once I’m done wanting I start blaming. And so life goes on with this back and forth, going around in circles.

You worst enemy is not some kind of monster hiding under your bed. Monsters don’t sleep under your bed, they sleep inside your head. Hold on, someone is at the door. Ego, is that you?

Your visit doesn’t surprise me,
Now I’m gonna ask you to leave
You lies were your rhetoric
Your love has crushed my bones
There’s no need to apologize
But it’s time for me to get wise
It’s time for me to leave you behind,
To take you to the Himalayas for you to find death
I want to pretend we never met
I want to leave you, erase you, delete you
I want to unEgo

Leonard Mlodinow writes in his book, Subliminal, “…our ego fights fiercely to defend its honor” (p. 200).

Life is only a personalized perception of who we are, it’s like a giant puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces. We hold onto a few pieces dearly and believe them to make the whole picture. The problem begins when we find a discrepancy, when the pieces don’t match, and they will not match, the puzzle is incomplete! Then ego kicks in and the cycle of wishing/wanting/blaming begins again. We may recognize there’s a problem but we see it mostly in others.

How do I know when I’m giving my index finger a work out?

1.- I feel hopeless: We are masters of the Universe who find joy in victim-playing role. When the feelings of hopelessness arise and I do nothing to change my situation I know I have a problem. I have left it up to someone to make decisions about how I should feel. As result, I feel powerless and it becomes “your fault”.

2.- I become a mad scientist: In my desperation to match both perceptions I gather lots of evidence, find clues, fill loopholes, carry out tests, then come up with a theory that surprisingly enough supports my conclusion! It’s like writing a dissertation, only in this case I’m manipulating key elements to fit the world to me. I become a know-it-all. This pattern does nothing but to reinforce my distorted views of reality, myself and others.

3.- I get frustrated: “Nobody cares about _________________.” Well, if only I did. Again, placing emphasis on external elements that are not related to how I feel because how I feel is a complex perception of myself.

4.- I should have/could have: It all starts with the sentence: “I should have ____________________ (known better, eaten less, said this or that, etc.). Then I come up with a strategy: Next time I will _________________________ (do a better job, etc.).

Think about how the words “should” and “next time” carry emotional violence towards yourself. Instead of trusting what’s happening I’m pointing the finger towards me. This usually happens after I’ve run out of people to blame, there’s still one standing up -me.

5.- I become the center of the Universe: The Earth stops revolving around the Sun. I’m not really sure how I do this but I do. Here’s the thing, every day people die, children go missing. Natural disasters and diseases plague the planet. As I’m writing this, a woman is being sexually assaulted somewhere. Yet, I manage to make Earth revolve around ME. My problems, my world, me, my, mine!

How do you know when you are about to embark in the it’s-all-your-fault journey?

Priscilla P. Wood

.- Origins: I was told I was born in the farthest North country of South America. .- I write: To empty my brain. .- Myself: An outsider. .- Humor: Soul food. .- Fascinated by: Stunning Angkor Wat, Cambodia. .- Addictions: Lots but mostly Belgian chocolate cake and Excel spreadsheets. .- Scariest thing I've done: I was born. .- Issues: Socially awkward. People usually freak me out. .- I value: Brutally honest people. .- Ideal partner: Extremely smart to balance it out. .- Can’t live without: Attachments. .- Favorite Authors: Mostly dead people and then Stephen Hawking. .- Deepest secret: Can’t tell you. .- Second deepest secret: Maybe later. .- One thing I would change: My imperfctions, they're painful. .- Future Goals: I’ll tell you when they get there. .- Origen: Se dice que nací al Norte del Sur. .- Escribo: Para vaciar mi cabeza. .- Yo: Completamente ajena a lo que esta sociedad inculca. .- Humor: Sopa de pollo para el alma. .- Fascinada con: El imponente Templo de Ankgor Wat en Camboya. .- Adicciones: Muchas, pero mas que todo el chocolate y hojas de cálculo de Excel. .- Lo más aterrador que he hecho: Nacer. .- Problemas: Socialmente reservada. La gente me desespera. .- Aprecio: La gente súper honesta. .- Pareja ideal: Alguien extremadamente inteligente para equilibrar la relación. .- No puedo vivir sin: Los apegos de la vida cotidiana. .- Escritores preferidos: En su mayoría ya están muertos. .- Mi mayor secreto: No lo cuento. .- Mi segundo mayor secreto: Quizá más adelante. .- Que cambiaria en mi vida: Mis defctos pues me recuerdan lo imperfcta que soy. .- Metas futuras: Te digo cuando lleguen.
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  • Largo

    Haha i like your solution: ” … bring more people from various backgrounds… ” Hey diversity brings spice to life in many way :)

    I like your straightforward analysis of the difference between driving in CA and driving in AZ. The facts hold in your theory.

    You are right about people and theirs believes. they often embrace the answer without really asking questions. “… it is true because it comes from the month or this book…” If i was “God”, my first statement to my people would be: Doubt in me before believing in me. I believe that this statement is equivalent to what i once said to a man: Google me before you challenge me. But that’s another story.

    O yes I think it will be interesting to read your thoughts on how resilient to change human beings are. Changes in all lives, Social, academic and financial.
    One interesting statement i read in your tweeter page is “Change is the only constant” ~Heraclitus. Of course different approaches to the statement may lead to different interpretations. But one straightforward investigation would lead to the following:
    The word “constant” by definition is something fix once for all. Something that does not change. Therefore, If “change is the only constant” then “change is the only thing that does not change.” The only thing fix once for all. The only thing that is here and will always be here…
    Thus, One should embrace it and make a room for it. I believe that is part of the formula of moving forward.

    • Priscilla P. Wood

      Interesting statement about God, in fact he probably does say something along those lines but again God and religion, two different things. Google me before what? good one, big loling!

      So expect change as the only constant! This is so easy to read but hard to embrace -we are habitual creatures. Have a nice weekend!

  • Largo

    Leonard Mlodinow writes in his book, Subliminal , “…our ego fights fiercely to defend its honor” (p. 200).
    I say to an extent that, “some people don’t seek the true; instead, they look for theirs believes to be confirmed”.
    I live in the Phoenix area, a city ranked number 74 in the list of the best cities to drive by a survey that ranks these cities by the number of accidents. But Phoenix is said to be number one among the big cites with population over one million. Despite these good ranking, I see every day a driving behavior that makes me doubt about the safe driving record of the Phoenicians. But guess what? We blame it to the Californians that invaded our state. Indeed Los Angeles is as you may guess by now, just second the worse city to drive: Philadelphia. But the question remains, does less accidents means less incidences?
    Incidents such as the “line cut”, the “sudden stop” and many other incidents of rudeness are witnessed daily by Phoenix drives in our diverse highways and streets. But who should we blame? Our leaders for not being visionary enough to predict grow of our city and build a head of time infrastructures that will meet the demand of increase in population? Or ourselves for not adapted to change?
    “Life has ups and downs. Economies have cycles. Relationships change as people grow. Careers and jobs adjust. All of these changes are to be expected, but they still create huge tension in our vision”. Why? Because we were created to change, but raised some time to be scared of change.
    The person who blame has only two questions: “what’s the problem?” And “who to blame?” Hence, this person will not make a good leader. Indeed leading is also taking the blame and sharing the credits.

    “This life is yours
    Take the power
    to choose what you want to do and do it well.
    Take the power
    To love what you want in life and love it honestly.
    Take the power
    to walk in the forest and be a part of nature.
    Take the power
    to control your own life No one else can do it for you.
    Take the power
    to make your life healthy exciting worthwhile and very happy.”
    _Susan Polis Schutz

    • Priscilla Wood

      You’re certainly right, we mostly seek what fits our beliefs. Very few people have the courage to see outside this glass, maybe we are afraid of finding out we’ve been wrong all this time and have our beliefs challenged.

      Interesting your CA – AZ comparison. I lived in LA for 5 years and even though I drove and got stuck in traffic a whole lot more in LA than here, I still find AZ a bit more on the rude side when it comes to driving. More accidents in LA but less patience here in Phx.

      I have two theories for this:

      1.- AZ is more of a homogeneous state than CA. I know, race, but diversity is necessary to develop tolerance, tolerance to accept that everybody is different even when driving.

      2.- I think the fact that people drive more in CA helps to keep the rudeness level low(er) ironic? Maybe. The more people drive the more they expect delays (traffic, slow drivers, accidents, etc). It’s like knowing in advance that things won’t go smoothly, it becomes your daily routine to the point that you get used to it and don’t make it a big deal when things don’t go your way (at least when driving).

      I have the solution for this, bring more people from various backgrounds here! Lol.

      “We were raised to be scared of change” Love that quote, I may blog about it. Thanks for reading me!