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Things we care about

March 24, 2011

I missed your “hey” on Facebook tonight, and it bummed me out. It’s a little thing, but so meaningful to share a few chatty lines. I really hate to miss a single opportunity. I feel okay using the word “hate” in the previous sentence, even though, as you know, the word was made verboten by Grandpa John roughly 55 years ago. I think he would understand and even allow this use. We weren’t allowed to use the word with reference to anyone, and for practice in remembering to not hate, we couldn’t even hate inanimate objects. I detested. Liver was one of the things I detested. Still do.

Things we strongly dislike are the most disruptive things in our minds, invading our consciousness with their hard edges, and nudging common sense, honor, integrity, and sometimes, sanity out of the way. We feel sure in our mind that we truly do dislike, if that is indeed where the surety lies. For me it’s the gut. It hurts in a vague way when I really don’t like something, and I often find it has little to do with my mind other than that is where my own ignorance lives. I sometimes learn that I don’t dislike something once I understand it. It takes time and a conscious effort to learn and understand, and making the effort can be scary and feel a little heavy at times.

Some people will tell you its easier to go along with the crowd. Some will simply parrot the words they hear from the crowd, and will say with righteous indignation that they are absolutely correct in whatever crazy position they are determined to hold. Most don’t understand that being true to ourselves demands that we reach out in all directions to learn truth, even if we must reach out alone.

Once we have established that we are standing in the correct position we can defend it. It takes passion, courage, logic and unshakable integrity to successfully defend something that lives in our heart and soul. A successful defense does not necessarily mean that we have won the argument or the battle, but if we stand honestly and with love to the end, we will have won.

People and ideals that affect us to our very soul are rare and we can expect that compromises must be made to keep them balanced in our lives. We might be forced to make a stand beyond which we cannot accept inclusion in a belief or relationship, and fight to make our stand known. With ideas and ideals we may not wish to accept compromise, but in relationships we usually need to take a less hard line approach. If the goal is to keep, rather than end a relationship, weigh the value of your demands against a possible total loss, and choose your battles well. Savor your wins and let go of the things lost in a compromise, for now. Ask again later.

It’s important to remember that each of us has a right to define our relationships and participate in them equally. Too often we take what is handed to us with hope that we will not upset the other party in our relationships. When we do that, we are saying that they have a right to define our relationship and, by extension, define us.

Relationships thrive when both parties are allowed to grow. Think of the sapling in the back yard—with the soft nylon holding it straight it is allowed to reach for the heavens, with just a little bit of aid from a supporting stake. If we were to gird the trunk with hard ropes the tree would begin to grow around them, embedding the ropes into the soft flesh and leaving deep scars in the bark. Aid and support in an equal relationship allows it to thrive. Tight constraints asphyxiate, deeply scar and twist souls.

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