I was told to fuck off by a small child today. The whole situation was rather laughable, a situation caused by a simple instruction that somehow warranted that reaction. It’s snowballed since, with the overreaction causing an overreaction yet in this scenario, I, the supposed wounded party, do not care in the slightest. Sure, it caused a little delay to the flow of my day and gave me something to do yet the drama of it all was lost on me. It reminded me of a piece from Meditations:
“If your distress has some external cause, it is not the thing itself that troubles you, but your own judgment of it and you erase this immediately. If it is something in your own attitude that distresses you, no one stops you correcting your view. So too if you are distressed at not achieving some action you think salutary, why not carry on rather than fret? ‘But there’s an obstacle in the way too solid to move.’ No cause for distress then, since the reason for failure does not lie with you. ‘But life is not worth living if I fail this’. Well then, you must depart this life, as gracious in death as one who does achieve his purpose, and at peace, too, with those who stood in your way.” – Meditations 8.47
While perhaps death in the face of being told to fuck off by a child when trying to break up a fight is a little extreme, it speaks here about also ejecting yourself from the circumstance. Death, in the spiritual sense is just a new existence and form of change – and in the stoic sense too. Change your purpose and approach in peace and grace. There is no real shame in it if you really cannot see past the obstacles in your way, imaginary or not.
At the end of the day, in my case, things were made worse by those who took offence to a thing where I found no fault. I was not injured, I was not distressed. If anything I was bored and wanted to get along with my afternoon and preferably the situation would have been resolved without any overreaction. Yet it happened, will continue to happen in some form or another because to expect verbal abuse to cease with one swoop is fantasy. It’s almost as fantastical as the impressions supposedly left on me by the curse words. I suppose in another sense, it’s a teaching opportunity to ensure that one day this child doesn’t say something to someone who will be as passive about the whole thing. If not able to teach, all there is left to do is tolerate and wish them luck to avoid being punched at some point.