Relationships

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing

Gus Spero PaintingFor the past few months I’ve been carrying around a ukulele like Stacy and Clinton had personally recommended it.  It makes meeting people incredibly simple.  “Requests?”

While it may come off as an endearing eccentricity, going around singing to innocent bystanders, this isn’t an altruistic musical exchange. If I peak behind the curtain, the thoughts driving these actions are not of giving, they are of wanting.

In every interaction this ego is trying to get love.

The attempt to “get” something from another person, like we’re all perusing some crowded emotional bazaar, is how many egos live their whole lives.  It becomes the subtext of relationship.

The mind made self sees other people as fulfillers of needs. While the true self, who is watching and observing this all take place as I sing “Part of Your World” for the nineteenth time, is aware that there is nothing to get.

Unbeknownst to the mind, love is not a thing, it is a state of being. Love is a reality, and it is really within me, obscured by the insatiable wanting of my mind made self.

So how can I get the love my mind made self so admirably tries to win for me?

Give up. Be with people without trying to get anything from them. Let each interaction be an end unto itself. And let that unfulfilled desire rise up and subside like ocean tides. This is presence. This is being in the actual present moment and not asking it to be something else. This is letting go of the war the mind creates with the now. This is surrender.

The state of being that then rises up, in the space between what was once a constant stream of thought, is love. Real love. It is always there in the quiet chambers of your consciousness. In silence, in surrender, it will sing to you, and you’ll realize what you were wanting before was merely a phantom of the real thing.

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Relationships

The Crazy Idea I Didn’t Know I Believed

LightIt wasn’t until a job training that focused on “positive discipline” for children that I realized I was walking around with an insane idea that greatly affected my relationships.

A slide in the presentation read, “It’s a crazy idea, really: to make children do better, they have to feel worse.”

Have you ever unknowingly operated from this crazy idea?  I know I have.  When I care about someone deeply and want their behavior to change, for their benefit or my own, I make them feel bad about it.  It sounds harsh, and consciously of course I wouldn’t try to make a loved one feel worse.  But up until this idea was exposed to me in such a clear manner, I was making people feel worse when trying to “help” them.

Human beings do this all the time, and not just when disciplining children.  We do this with our spouses, siblings, friends, and co-workers.

Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline series, talks about the deep roots of sprouting behavioral issues in children.  But how can we react when encountered with an adult close to us whose behavior we want to change?

That question cannot be answered in one small post.  But there are a few essential steps before you go about trying.

Firstly, take a look at the “man in the mirror.”  Ask yourself what parts of the issue bothering you, do you contain within yourself.

Then completely accept the other person as they are, and forgive them.

Lastly, become utterly present.  Let go of the unhappy story you are telling yourself and instead focus on the feeling of your hands and feet.  Feel the inhale and exhale of your breath.

While this won’t necessarily change someone else’s behavior, it will change yours.  Whatever you do in a state of presence will be positive and productive for everyone.  Of course the consequences of this presence will not be known until it is tried and tested.  I will attempt these steps the next time I feel the impulse to change someone else’s behavior through the old, criticizing manner. Comment and let me know how it goes for you!

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Relationships

Why My Relationships Will Never Be The Same

DucksAll of the sudden it happened.  After months of lazing about recovering from surgery I have found myself back in the workforce.  I now have emails to respond to, lessons to plan, projects to coordinate, and an alarm clock going off in the morning.  Of course I am grateful, but I have yet to experience a transition without growing pains, yet to feel completely comfortable with letting go.

This new lesson in acceptance is one I am beginning to navigate, but there is one lesson from the surgery that I’m still holding onto: I was treated differently, and still am over three months after the fact.

I found on the whole that friends, family, and acquaintances were kinder, more appreciative, and altogether more forgiving of me than I had ever experienced.

These changes in relationships could be chalked up to compassion during a difficult situation, but I don’t buy into that.  I’ve experienced compassion before, and it is beautiful and life affirming.  I also have a ridiculously loving family.  But the kindness I received during this period of my life carried an even deeper undertone that I’m sure few would ever admit, even to themselves.

People realized I was mortal.

I know how this sounds; am I ridiculously asserting that my friends thought of me as immortal before it turned out I had a tumor in my skull?  On the intellectual level, of course not, we all understand the reality of birth and death.  But one of the things that makes life less scary, more ordinary, and makes relationships easier to handle is that, in the words of my friend Mark, we temporarily assume we are all immortal.

Having brain surgery created relationships in which the fragility of life became more real.  And while this could sound grim, it was the most profound, loving, and fulfilling experience I’ve been blessed to witness in my short life thus far.

Now that I’m well again, what does this lesson mean, and why am I still holding onto it?

I saw that it is possible to love deeply, appreciate people meaningfully, and forgive people’s faults easily.  This can be the reality of all of our relationships and interactions.

Perhaps contemplating the unstable nature of all forms will be your catalyst toward this type of human interaction.  Or perhaps, like me, that is altogether too frightening an approach.  If that is the case, just love others, and be kinder than necessary.  Even if you haven’t been on the receiving end of this depth of kindness yet, you can be the initiator of a new way to be human together.

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