Sea lions and Resentments

sea lions

Resentment: re·sent·ment



noun: resentment; plural noun: resentments

  1. bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

I live near the Sacramento River, close enough to the Bay that we sometimes get seals/sea lions (not sure which they are) chasing prey. Most often during the Salmon run you can see the sea lions going after the poor fish. When they catch a big one, in order to devour the fish, the sea lion will shake it’s head side to side. This results in the violent flinging of the fish and strips off the flesh. The animal will do this several times before moving on to the next fish and the next until their bellies are full.

Several things that happen when a sea lion is in the river chasing fish. One, the fisherman are not happy. The sea lions are smart and will rob their hooks. It is easier than swimming after the fish. The second is the poor animal is besieged by seagulls. The seagulls know that when the sea lion catches a fish and does the flinging back and forth, little bits of fish flesh get tossed about as well. That is what the sea gulls are after. However, you can track where the sea lion is by where the birds are. They hover over it’s position and soon as the sea lion pops it’s head out for a breath, the seagulls drop down.

So what does this animal ocean planet show special have to do with resentments? Well. The other day as I drove the by river, I saw a sea gulls flying low over the river, some were even floating on the river. I figured there was a sea lion near by, but the gulls seemed very relaxed. Perhaps the seal lion was just resting as well. I was wrong. . As soon as that animal broke the surface those gulls were on it like bees to honey. They swarmed the lion. The animal took a breath and sunk below the surface. The seagulls resumed their previous positions. Of course, if the animal was able to grab a seagull, make a meal of it, the others would stay at a respectable distance.

All this took mere seconds. As I watched, I thought wow, those gulls are bit like resentments and I am the seal. I can cruise under the river for long distances, minding my own business, doing my thing, but as soon as I surface to take a breath and look around, bam, those resentments are right back, flying at my head. Over and over again, mostly because I can ignore them. Eventually, though, the resentments become too much, and unless I grab one, make a meal of it, the others will remain, making my life miserable.

Holding on to resentments is not a healthy way to live. So why do we do it? Not sure. I do know that it becomes comfortable. My resentments become my friends, something I can talk about with others and discuss how I am “working on them”. Perhaps it is because, somewhere deep inside, I am afraid if I let them go, if I no longer have those resentments available to deal with, something else, something worse will take their place. Isn’t that funny? Resentments are not tangible things. I cannot touch them, feel them with my fingers, maybe move them around with the décor. Throwing out the resentments does leave a void. There is no empty space one has to fill up. If anything, dealing with and removing resentments gives you the time and ability to just enjoy life.

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Dr. Paul, pg 449 BB 3rd edition