I generally take this as a good sign – a solid indicator that my life is moving in the proper direction. At the same time, I am utterly amazed by the small number of jerks and douchebags I have had to deal with in the past half-decade or so. Of the few I do have to contend with, none play a major role, nor exert any significant influence on my day-to-day existence. It really is remarkable. I mean, I can remember times when my waking days were reduced to the level of an extended coping exercise; when all I seemed to do was find ways to maneuver my way through a veritable minefield of obnoxious, reprehensible, and dislikable people.
Now, this change was gradual and extended over time, sort of like the trend line of stock. And like a stock trend line, the movement of the line was jagged, with many ups and downs, but over the past decade or so, a clear trend has established itself, with the biggest gains (or losses, I suppose) happening in the past five years.
Many obvious factors account for the diminishing frequency and impact of nefarious individuals during this time. I live in a small rural village with fewer than 700 residents and work in small urban centers with populations of less than 80,000. I am far more independent and autonomous in my current employment situations than I ever was in my previous jobs. In fact, since I complete nearly all my tasks alone, I don’t really have co-workers in the strict sense of the word. I have learned to avoid events and places that attract the sorts of people I do not like coming into contact with. And so on.
Though important, the obvious factors interest me far less than the more subtle factors that are likely at play here. I consider learning to be the primary goal of our mortal lives in this world. Not learning in the conventional, materialist, educational sense, but spiritual learning. We choose to materialize in this world for spiritual development, and the world is arranged to provide the best possible combination and array of learning experiences that can serve to benefit each individual best. A big part of this learning process entails the ridding of false selves – the stripping away of erroneous beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions and the concurrent unveiling of an individual’s true self.
As I look back upon it, I come to the rather startling conclusion that those periods of my life that were plagued by pestiferous people probably had to do with the plain fact that I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time engaged in the wrong thing.
The strained relations I had to endure for much of my adult life appear to have been part of that learning process. You can learn much from loathsome individuals, especially those who harbor the expressed intent to harm you, but dealing with antagonistic people all the time can also hinder spiritual development by draining away energy, energy that could be better spent on reflection, prayer, and nurturing of positive relationships.
And that’s the place I find myself now. I am certain I will encounter some insufferable individuals in the future. And I also know that I have undoubtedly played the role of the insufferable individual in other people’s lives (and perhaps still do today). Having said that, I am happy for the extended reprieve I have carved out/been granted in my own life, and I sincerely hope it extends well into the future. Not because it's more pleasant or comfortable, but because the learning I am engaged in now demands relative tranquility and the smallest number of distractions possible.