Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving Beyond the Hurt

One of the possibilities that occur in relationships is that we will experience hurt.  For some hurt comes early in life as a result of uncaring or immature parenting.  For others hurt may come from the breakup of a first love.  Then there are those of us who seem bent on creating circumstances that can have no outcome other than being deeply hurt and scarred for life. 

Mark Nepo, in “The Book of Awakening,” suggests that there are many ways in which we may discover how to get beyond a hurtful experience.  He says that like a radio that can only receive one station at a time, we may think there is only one way to resolve a difficult relationship.  In reality there are many stations being broadcast at the same time, but we choose the one we are listening to.  Further he states:

“. . . compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides (choosing a station).  Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality.  Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us.  Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.”

As a principle of faith, I accept that feeling hurt is a choice I make in how I respond to a hurtful experience with another person.  The fact is, in such a situation we are in pain.  We will stay in that pain until we decide we have had enough it and move on.  Life does not consist only of that particular hurtful experience for any of us.  It is up to us to decide that there are other parts of our life that we can pay attention to that will allow us a momentary change of perspective.  If, in that more serene moment, we can focus our attention on the power of compassion, we will find that we have changed the station to which we are listening.  We hear life in a different way and our pain will recede.

Compassion takes us to another level of our experience of relationship.  It does not take sides in the issue.  Rather we are then in a position to reaffirm our truth and our reality while at the same time recognizing there is a truth the other person is attempting to express.  Life does not require that we all share the same truth.  In fact, individuality requires of us a separate but equal reality.  It is when we judge what the “equal” notion should be that we get into trouble.  We have an equal right to see our reality in our own way and to live with the consequences.

Moving past the hurt will eventually require of us some action.  Hurt does not go away by ignoring it.  It simply falls into the deeper recesses of our consciousness.  That is why some situation from our past may suddenly surface for seemingly no reason.  A current event is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  That has happened to me, as I am sure it has for others.  I felt that was what surfaced for a friend when I attempted to share the excitement about an experience I was having.  The truth of my experience as I saw it was one thing.  The truth of the other person clearly saw something quite different.  I was staggered at first and my own past hurts began to surface with the accompanying anger.  At first it was easy to blame my feelings on the action of the other person.  Fortunately, I did not respond out of the environment of the now surfaced anger.  Instead, through working with the facets of the relationship in my mind and heart I found the compassion Mark Nepo wrote about.  The anger was the first to go after that.  Then I realized I had no reason to be hurt.  The truth of my experience was still real, still true.  I was able to return to the joy and satisfaction of my life.

It is not always easy to let go of the things that we feel have produced hurt in our lives.  The choice is ours whether we let go or not.  No matter how remote some of those other stations are that are broadcasting, we owe it to ourselves to search for them.  Tune into the one(s) that bring you to those peaceful moments where you can see things more clearly and resolve any issue that has produced hurt.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rearranging Life

I was in the process of rearranging the furniture in my second bedroom/office (yes, already after so soon getting settled!), and in the process, spilled contents of my letter trays where I kept correspondence, bills and other items not ready for filing.  It was then I realized an additional reason why I had begun this rearranging. Here is what I discovered.

In going through the correspondence folder I came across several greeting cards I had received in the past and had wanted to save.  I also found a number of photos (grand children); articles I had saved and some pictures I had saved from years ago that had been placed under the glass top to my office desk.  I managed to sort these various items out and saved most all of them again.

It was lunchtime when I got through with the arranging and after lunch I sat down to read.  While I was reading I found myself thinking back to the greeting cards I had discovered.  There was a get well card from members of my Ageless Conditioning class following my heart surgery several years ago.  There was a Christmas card from my good friends from back in the Whole Life Learning Center days in Colorado, the Ebrights, telling me of Jack’s hip replacement surgery done on my birthday and telling me I was an inspiration to him.  Finally, there were Father’s Day cards from family members.

I realized how valuable the sentiments shared in the cards were to me.  A couple of years ago I had gone through my files that contained years of cards from close friends and loved ones.  I had cards from my son and daughter that went back to the time they first were able to scribble their names.  These were so precious and re-reading them reminded me of the love that transcends everything.  As difficult as it was I had to let the cards go, but before I did, I scanned many of them into my computer.

I guess the point of all this is that if or when we begin to take our loved ones and friends for granted, it is wonderful to have those greeting cards to look at again.  It true that some connections remain stronger than some others.  Never the less the special people whose paths have joined with us from time to time leave marks on our consciousness forever.  To be reminded of our shared caring can strengthen our resolve to continue to care, to love and to respect each other more deeply.

So, it was a fruitful morning for me.  Once again my “re-arranging” brought clearer insight about important relationships. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Burying and Planting

In my morning reading I came across these words in, “The Book Of Awakening,” by Mark Nepo:

There is very little difference between burying and planting.  For often, we need to put dead things to rest, so that new life can grow.  And further, the thing put to rest – whether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing – becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form.  As the well-used thing joins with the earth, the old love fertilizes the new; the broken dream fertilizes the dream yet conceived; the painful way of being that strapped us to the world fertilizes the freer inner stance about to unfold.

Having just come inside from working early in my yard, trimming, watering and observing what needs to be done in the process of removing the weeds and making way for whatever I decide to grow in their places, this quote seemed more than appropriate.  In the spring many things that have rested through the winter and seem dead, now begin their transformation.  Without the “dying” there can be no “rebirth.”

How true this is in our lives.  We need to recognize those things that have served their usefulness and bury them in the earth of regeneration so that what is to come next can evolve.  Just as we do a spring housecleaning and clear away the items we no longer need so we can begin fresh with the new items that bring us renewed joy and satisfaction, so we might well find time to clean our mental/emotional house.  Now is a good time to recognize how your life has changed, how things that used to be important do not seem so important today.  Instead, your mind, free of the used up energy of the past, is re-energized with new creative ideas, dreams and possibilities.

As we continue our journey through life, many things are let go in order to freely move forward.  Sometimes we find new friends taking the place of others to whom we may no longer feel connected.  Of course, we will always have those special persons in our lives.  We are always connected to them no matter what other changes we may go through and no matter how separated we may be geographically.  Sometimes, however, we may fail to recognize what isn’t working for us any longer.  Until we come to a place of recognizing and letting go of those “dead” things we cannot fully be awakened to the new life.

I would first suggest examining those things we have an inordinate sense of “needing.”  When we are desperate about clinging or holding on to something that seems to want to leave us, it may be time to bury it and plant a new dream, a new goal, a new social experience—whatever is moving in your creative consciousness.  Innately, I believe, we know what we need to do to change our lives.  Often, it is simply a matter of giving ourselves permission to change.

In a conversation I had with my neighbor this morning I mentioned trying to determine what I want to do with my flower garden.  It seems to me that the previous owner had what my neighbor called, “an eclectic garden plan.”  Whatever she liked went into the ground.  I cannot make sense of it, nor determine if it was “planned” or freely evolved on its own.  In any case, as pretty as it is, I have to bury some of what is there so I can develop the garden that satisfies my plan, my dream.  I think it is going to be fun.  Even though I feel like I am “killing” the plants that I need to let go of, somehow I think they are willing to become the fertilizer for the birth of new beauty.  We will see!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Your Happiness Is Your Job!

I recently was able to purchase a manufactured home in a small Oregon town heavy on farms, orchards, open space and light on traffic (and traffic lights!).  I had lived in an apartment since retiring from Safeco Life and Investments in 2003 and selling my mobile home in the Seattle Metro area and moving back to Oregon.  I didn’t fully realize until I was actually moved into my new home and began to get settled how totally happy I was.  I suppose much of the feeling came simply from a new environment and new experiences.  However, the longer I am here, the more I realize how many factors there are in one’s life that lead to happiness or the lack of it.

Primarily, of course, our happiness depends on our attitude about life.  Our attitude can be influenced by many things:  friends, relatives, social interaction, money, power, culture, ideals, spiritual activity, environment, and on and on.  What influences we accept as contributing factors in how we live most certainly results in the quality of life we have.  I believe that due to our inherent social nature we enjoy sharing our lives with others who are important to us in some way.  When we feel good and enjoy life, we like to share those feelings with friends and family.  Conversely, when we are in the dumps we may tend to share those feelings with others as well.  If we are lucky, our friends and family may rise to the occasion to be supportive and help us through the current challenges.  Sometimes, not so much!

One of the things I have always done when I was not clear about what I should do about some issue, I rearrange my furniture.  Many times I rearranged the furniture in the office where I was working if there was a particularly difficult issue that needed to be resolved.  I have done the same in my home from time to time.  It just seemed that rearranging the way things were outwardly gave me a new arrangement in my thinking and feeling that would lead to resolving the concern.

It is a major rearrangement when we make a physical move from one home to another.  I won’t go into the potentials of moves that constitute a “running from” some situation.  That is another story for another time.  What I am interested in is a move that truly comes about because one has begun an inner rearrangement of priorities and interests.  I had been feeling the urge to make a move, literally, for about a year.  I dabbled at looking at manufactured homes.  It was interesting that I never actually went in any!  Driving by was my way of flirting with the notion of a move.  I shared my process with only one other person.

Then I received a notice of a rent increase coming up at my apartment.  The rent on my storage locker had already gone up.  That was the catalyst that produced a serious consideration of the pros/cons of purchasing a home.  I had seen a listing of a home in Dallas, Oregon and decided to drive down for a look.  To make a long story short, I turned out to be looking at the wrong listing.  The mobile park was large and consisted of two separate, but connected parts.  As I was driving through the adjacent park, thinking the one I was originally looking for was not what I wanted, I stopped to pick up a flyer for one of the homes.  As I was getting ready to get back in my truck, I saw a lady come up the street waving her hands.  She said, “Do you want to look inside?”  I paused in surprise, then, said, “Yes. I would.”  It was exactly the home I wanted.

I quickly contacted the sales agent and arranged for a meeting.  I offered considerably less than the seller was asking, even after it had been reduced in price.  I also was asking the seller to take half the offer in a note for three years. The agent’s jaw dropped when I told him what my offer was, but he dutifully submitted it to the seller, who now lives in Arizona.  A few days later I got the word, “Start packing.  Your offer was accepted.”  Not even a counter offer.

There were many “co-incidental” factors to the whole process, but to mention one is the fact that I had been living in Greenway Square Apartments.  This home was located in Greenway Mobile Park.  The similarity was not lost on me.

Now, to get to the “Your Happiness is Your Job” part, I wanted to share my good fortune with others.  The result from others was varied, primarily supportive from the ones joining in my happiness.  One person in particular found it necessary to dump on my choice of making such a move.  Seems an inter-personal issue made the person think my action was somehow directed at offending him.  Go figure!  I was taken aback and frankly, it took me awhile to determine not to let any dissenter decide my happiness.  Some folks just can’t stand to see others happy when they are not.

I have had more happiness and interest in life in the last six weeks than I have had in the last five years!  In response to the dissent, I am reminded of the words of Edwin Markham:

He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!

From the poem " Outwitted”

To fully enjoy my happiness, it is necessary for me to express the ability to include others in a loving embrace.  What the other person does with that love is up to him/her.