By pricey I mean that admission to this room costs you more in peace of mind, anxiety, and sleepless nights than nearly anything else you will ever do.
One of the good things about the Viper Room is that it’s always open. In fact, you’re in charge of the command performances. You could be standing in line at the supermarket and suddenly you’re in the Viper Room. You could be jogging, trying to study or trying to go to sleep, and you can be transported to the Viper Room instantly .
You’ve got a front row seat to the drama that is your life–at least the life in your head. Right there on stage a character that looks a lot like you is holding forth eloquently, laying out irrefutable points and truths that leave the character or characters playing opposite “you” speechless. What can they say? Your logic and brilliant analysis are unassailable. This is the stage upon which you get to say what you should have said when it happened. This is the place where you have the perfect comeback. This is where you get to be the hero.
One amazing thing about these dramas is that even though the actor playing you is always right, you always feel worse after the performance. For some reason, it is not satisfying being right on the Viper Room stage.
Perhaps that is because what happens in the Viper Room rarely, if ever, plays out in real life the same way.
The dramas I wrote, directed and witnessed in the Viper Room generally left me feeling depressed. I watched these dramas repeatedly, and usually I left that theater of my mind feeling more angry and frustrated than before I went in.
Viper Room dramas aren’t deep reflection or honest soul-searching. Most of the time they are just venting and ranting; dramas in which I am clearly right and someone else is clearly wrong. Irrefutably.
Yet in the cold light of day, these scenes never play out like that.
Over time, several things occurred to me about Viper Room performances. First, I was greatly affected by the dramas. Yet in real life the person, my “Viper Room nemesis,” was not nearly as affected by “my inner drama” as I was. After all, I was the one losing sleep watching these dramas.
Second, being right didn’t mean as much in the real world as it did in the Viper Room. What was clearly “right” to me was often not considered right by others, sometimes including people I cared about deeply. It occurred to me that there are times when I had to choose between being right and being happy. Sometimes you can have both. Sometimes you can’t.
Third, I realized that although I controlled the outcomes of my Viper Room dramas, in real life those story lines usually involved factors over which I had little or no control. And one of the cardinal rules of sane living is to be able to know the difference between things you can change, and things you cannot.
Finally, there was another element that ran through all my Viper Room dramas: I was always the victim.
Let’s state the obvious: Life isn’t always fair–at least by any reasonable or provable measure. Sometimes people really are mean and hurtful. I learned long ago that just because you’ve been victimized doesn’t mean you have to become a victim. In fact, in my experience the least empowering thing you can do when such situations occur is to adopt a “victim mentality.”
In part because you’ve been hurt or attacked, it’s important that you focus on what’s best for you. Ideally, you will adopt attitudes and behavior that allow you to think clearly and make good choices.
Some people become so caught up in the “unfairness” of things that they spend good portions of their lives in the Viper Room, usually to the detriment of themselves and the people who care about them.
Lately the Viper Room has become an indulgence I can no longer afford. In fact, like many old habits I have determined, through experience, to be harmful to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health, I do my best not to go there anymore.
So I boarded up the Viper Room.
I’ve decided to turn that space into a meditation room.