Thursday 19 September 2019

Brendan O'Connor: 'The truth about my secret office relationship'

Lord, make me a more tolerant person... but not yet?
Lord, make me a more tolerant person... but not yet?
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I seem to remember that I often stumble into December a bit flat, punch-drunk and not sure where I belong. It's partially the rain and darkness and all that, and I think it's to do with the end of a run of TV too. No matter how long or short a run of TV is, I find it weirdly anticlimactic and bleak when it's over. You're dying to get to the end in one way and then you do, and you're not quite sure how to feel.

I think I also feel at this time of year I've used up all my tolerance for the year. People start pissing me off. If one person is pissing you off, it could be their fault. But if it's more than one, you have to wonder if you are the problem.

I've been trying to get through the irritation with furious bouts of meditation. I've been trying to do the Loving Kindness meditations on the app most days.

The Loving Kindness meditations are the most cringey of all the cringey meditations on the app. The idea is to teach you to be a bit easier on yourself and everyone else. They're very PC about it. They say if you are uncomfortable with the phrase Loving Kindness, you can just think of it as friendliness. I suppose you have to be careful these days with the free love.

You start by giving the love to yourself. So I lie there, hand on my heart, and try and infuse myself with warmth and compassion and all that jazz. And I try not to listen to the Cork accent inside me saying, "What are you doing, you dope? If this gets out, you're finished."

The lady suggests phrases to say in your head, to yourself. "May I be happy. May I be safe. Maybe I be healthy. May I be at peace." Once you've warmed yourself up, you do it to someone you love, someone who causes the heart to open up naturally. I think about my two girls. I image them there in front of me laughing together, which is, I realise, when my heart opens most to them. Even though when they are doing that in real life, I'm usually saying, "Come on! This is bedtime. Not playtime. Cop on and brush your teeth."

So I picture them there, feeling slightly guilty that it's not my wife in the picture, and I send them Loving Kindness. I sometimes have a vision of a laser-gun ray of it pouring out of my heart. The girls are the easiest one.

Then you do a person you are neutral about. Someone you see on the bus, or in work. For some reason, the guy who came to mind was this guy at work I never speak to beyond 'good morning'. So I picture him and then I say to him, in my head, "May you be happy..." etc etc. I have noticed it has made me warmer in my greetings to him in the morning in the real world.

He seems to gladly take my hearty greetings. Fair play to him, given he doesn't know what has gone on between us earlier that morning. He's just being friendly. I'm only being this friendly because I have this whole secret relationship with him in my head.

Then the challenging one. You have to think of someone you find difficult and offer them the love.

A guy told me recently he sometimes pictures Donald Trump for this one. He is a more noble man than I am. I have a different candidate every day. Whoever is pissing me off most in that moment. I admit it does help to send them the love. They sometimes look taken aback, in the little scene in my mind's eye, to see me smiling at them, saying "May you be happy. May you be safe..." and so on. But they take it. And it does dilute their poison slightly for me.

Then the worst bit. You have to do it to everyone. "All beings", as the lady calls it. So I picture as many of you all as I can and say, in my head, "May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be at peace."

And do you know what? As foolish as it all sounds, it does make me a little more tolerant for a while. So there you go. I am the font of all love, sending good vibes out to heal the whole world. But hey. Whatever gets me through the day, right?

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