two ways to be itchy

When the itch comes, appearing in the corner of my right eye, my first thought is to scratch it. More often than not, I take the automatic path without even thinking about what I’m doing. The itch is gone before I was even aware of it.

I can also let the itch be. I can notice it along with the urge to scratch it, and then decide to do nothing. Doing nothing, in general, sounds easier than doing something but in this case the situation is completely flipped. But if you can get through the first ten seconds or so, the itch changes. It becomes less… itchy. It goes away. It gets replaced by a back ache or a thought about breakfast. It comes back. It goes away again. In time it is just like any other part of your experience.

Let the itch be a teacher, a warning. Other unpleasant situations will arise today. Someone will tailgate me on the freeway and my instinct will be to shout a profanity at them (which they won’t even hear). Someone will email me about something I don’t want to think about and I may scoff, expelling some air out my nose. What do these automatic reactions accomplish? What do I gain by slowly, in small ways, learning to intercept them and reconsider?

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