Equanimity — Taking the Good with the Bad
When doctors take a reflex hammer and whack your knee, they are looking for a response. Your leg reflexively should kick forward. You get to giggle, and your doctor knows that you probably don’t have an issue with your nervous system.
In medical school, my classmates and I couldn’t wait to get our hands on our reflex hammers and test some reflexes. When my turn was up, my lab partner took a whack at my knee.
Then whacked again.
“What’s wrong with you?!”
Whack. Whack. Whack.
A teaching assistant notices my partner’s frustration. “Don’t worry. I am really good at this.”
Whack. Again, no reflex.
I just shrug, not sure whether to feel bad for being a horrible partner or worried that I have some neurological disorder.
“Aron, clasp your fingers together and pull. Close your eyes too. You’re probably thinking about it too much.”
Again, no response from my knee.
At this point, my lab partner began looking around the room for a partner that wasn’t broken.
Fortunately, I did not have a neurological disorder. I’m just one of those people who doesn’t have a noticeable patellar reflex.
The thing is, I can be pretty unresponsive in other situations. I don’t startle easily when someone jumps out from behind a door to scare me. I don’t freak out when things don’t go my way. I don’t get very angry or excited.
Maybe this is a super power.
Need someone to not completely lose his shit when things spiraling out of control? Call Unresponsive Man!
Are your friends doing their best Chicken Little impersonation? “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
Unresponsive Man to the rescue!
But with every super power comes a kryptonite, an Achilles Heel.
Having a serious discussion about potential marriage with your girlfriend of eight plus years?
Not a time to be unresponsive.
Donald Trump gets elected as President and all your friends are freaking out.
I didn’t vent. I didn’t think the world was going to end. I didn’t get that angry.
It almost feels wrong NOT to be angry. Maybe I should be really pissed off, but I am not.
Not yet, at least.
Am I being unresponsive or equanimous? Is it time to wake up the lion or time to stay calm and composed?