Trust in the Consistency of Kindness

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I have observed this trait as of late in others as well as myself, something I hope to be a conditioned behavior that can be relearned, for I need to believe we are not hardwired with the propensity of doubt and distrust. I have seen a friend struggle with this, withdrawing when things get close, get tough. I am unsure if it is a lack of trust in themselves for they are greatly burdened by many past experiences that could result in such distrust.  I have seen that recently in my cross-eyes cat who keeps inching closer only to shy away when I reach to offer affection.  I saw it in myself the past day or so, facing what felt like an insurmountable task, I sat down defeated, ready to throw in the towel and with tears streaking my cheeks, I received pep talks that gave me the courage to return to the task. This was followed by lunch and a few more words of encouragement but I realized that I felt uncomfortable with the kindness for at times it has been rare and in my distant past it was not always offered unconditionally with the compassion and concern at its foundation.

I work hard to balance that fear, to face the gift of kindness and compassion with grace and gratitude instead of doubt and dread. I must believe that we have learned to doubt in kindness for as young children we are open to that level of empathy and consideration, we too offered it freely without reservation. If that doubt is not learned, if it cannot be modified then I have lost hope. At what point does this cold world condition us differently? Can we learn to return to that level of trust, at least in the safety of our most intimate relationships? For if we cannot learn to trust in the consistency of care and kindness in our personal lives how can we ever survive when the rest of the world wants to do nothing more than see of fail, to keep score of our missteps and remind of us our faults ?

“A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults.”

-Charles Kingsley

Fumbling Buffoon

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Why do I get lost in translation, between what I want to say with my heart  to what comes out of my mouth is a different rendition?  I have often wondered why I fumble with the words from my soul. I can stand in front of hundreds of my peers and present concepts but when I find myself in a safe place with someone I care for, I cannot always speak my truth with the same clarity. Just the other day I wanted to share some reflections on the past few years and say a simple thank you to a friend, I wanted to show my appreciation and recognize what they shared with me and I stumbled through just a few sentences, ultimately making a heartfelt moment into an awkward mess where I am afraid I made them feel bad, hurting them.  At a different point I wanted to ask just a few questions, although they were the difficult ask, they were simple questions and there too I felt that when beginning the conversation it just began to crumble apart along with my courage.

I often wonder if this is why I believe that old adage, actions speak louder than words, because my words sometimes fail me thus I work hard to show my feelings and thoughts through my actions.  It is as if my heart and soul wants to say something and it gets filtered through the mind filled with emotions and fears and is never said as it was originally thought. I seem to have no trouble in writing the thoughts but when if comes to the conveyance, why does my voice fail me?

“Sure, it would have been easy to point out where they felt short. It’s a lot harder to meet them where they are and acknowledge the fact that they were trying. And what else can you ask someone to do but try?” -Ash Beckham

Enlightenment Overload and the Cross-eyed Cat

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May has been a difficult and enlightening month….and there are 9 days left. Not sure how much more enlightenment I can handle. I sit here and look back over the past few years, I am forever grateful for this part of my journey, a gratitude that extends beyond any words I could express.

I sit here are the sun rises and think of all I have learned and all that remains unbeknown to me. Through this I have learned that even we are creatures of habit. We behave in manners we have learned, conditioned by the actions of others.  As a result of a lifetime without trust, it is difficult and even scary to open one’s heart and bare one’s soul.  Spending a lifetime without the reciprocation of emotion or caring it is difficult to trust that the care you are receiving now is genuine, without judgement or condition. Having a lifetime without speaking your truth, it is difficult to trust the safe place you now have wants to hear your voice, that one would want you to share your feelings, accepting with respect as opposed to judgement. I suppose it takes time and courage to overcome the ghost of ones prior life, to recondition one’s self in a new situation; that with the courage to take the risk and the time to trust in the response it can shift. It takes time and small actions to build the trust in the situation and courage to trust in ourselves too.

While we may want nothing more than what we do not have, nothing more than to find that place of love and acceptance, we can sabotage ourselves. Sitting here my crossed eyed cat comes out of the woods.  He is a beautiful neighbor, apparently being stray for long enough he understand to eat while he can he wanders from house to house, clearing the dishes left on the porch. He is crisp white with a buff coloring on his ears and tail, clearly part Siamese with the blue eyes so crossed he must not be able to see past the end of his nose. We go through this dance many mornings, he comes close but just out of reach, he wants nothing more than to have someone pet him but stays just beyond my fingertips  because he does not have the trust yet to know it is safe so he keeps the interaction on his terms…..maybe one morning my cross-eyes cat will find the trust or courage, only time will tell. I wonder when trust and courage can be found. At some point that cross-eyed cat may wander off without ever finding what it seeks. Is that why things are kept at bay? Will trust of ones self and the others it encounters ever be the standard in that safe place? Will that voice ever be shared without fear of reprisal or judgement? Will there ever be a time where there is enough trust to lean into the love and let it be the support when the world is too tough to face alone?

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.”  ― Shannon L. Alder

Not Put Together Like the Rest of Us

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A few weeks ago I had a conversations with a friend of almost 25 years, we have been around in each others’ lives off and on through college, marriages, divorces, kids, school, deaths…. We have seen each other in many life events. They said something to me that has resonated in my mind and I couldn’t quite figure it out until I was talking with another friend yesterday, having one of those moments of clarity. They said, “you are just not put together like the rest of us.”

Not being put together like the rest of us? This arose during a conversation on patience, forgiveness and strength but I didn’t think it quite fit in there.  Sure I try to live a life with compassion, focusing on accepting apologies and offering forgiveness so I am living without a heavy heart, sure I try to be patient and empathetic considering the others’ perspective, and sure I have had to find my inner strength to persevere but am I really that different?  Why did they say that? While I have not often feel I fit in was my discomfort with my place in life that obvious? The moment of clarity came when I was considering why I was struggling with patience at some level but have a wealth of it at another, how I can be empathetic but am lost on how to be supportive; all those pieces clicked.

In that moment, I realized that the reason I was so different was not in my makeup but a learned behavior. I process things at warp speed, looking at the situation from all sides, rational consideration as to the solution and then proceed with the recovery. I was never afforded the luxury of pausing in the moment, I had to learn to rush in, to fix the problem, to repair the damage and prepare for the next catastrophe all the while trying to maintain stability and keeping an eye on the surroundings.

That is not the way life should be lived; this old dog needs to try and learn a new trick. There are things which need to sit in silence, there are things that only time and patience can repair, there are things that can never be rectified where the only resolution is to collect the pieces and chart a new path assembling what remains. There are times that people just need an ear and no consolation can remedy the ailment. There are times that a hug can hold the pieces together and silence can allow for pain to wash away. There are times that my eyes need to see the world from a new perspective. The things I have learned sitting in silence holding vigil.

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” ― Fred Rogers

Humility, Compassion, and Gratitude

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As with everything in life, I believe that we will continue to encounter it until we learn our lesson, find our gratitude or gain our strength from it. For instance I have had so many of the exact same message, slightly reworded stream across my social media sights that I am thinking Someone is trying to tell me something. I suppose the conversations over the past week are no different. Three different discussions with three people whose perspective I respect greatly, two from my inner circle and a neighbor have made me think I need to consider the topics.

The topic of humility, the importance of being humble is one that keeps permeating the conversations. I could not agree more, it is essential to understand your positon in the greater picture, knowing what we can give as well as the worth of ourselves and others in that picture; being modest, respectful, essentially being humble which can feed compassion.  Being humble is a virtue that is in less supply in today’s world, we see that fact in the workplace, in our academic settings, in the supermarket and even in some homes which may be a direct result of the misconception that it is weakness. It takes strength to move toward humbleness, to give selflessly to others, to know your own limitations takes great strength. Humility and compassion come in many forms, you can be humble enough lay ones own needs aside for a moment and help others, to focus on our own failure and admit the shortcoming working to rectify the reason it did not work, being humble allows us to easily ask questions, to focus on the strength within ourselves and the fact that we do not hold all the strength we need to succeed, it allows us to be of service to others.

Practicing acts of humility allow us to grow our compassion and gratitude. This being a tenant of the major religions is no err, it is essential to the human spirit. I have found that in times of personal strife when I struggle to quiet the mind and spirit if I take time to help others, a simple act of dinner for someone or time to help in any form, it allows me to pause, focusing elsewhere later returning to my challenges I find new perspective.  Practicing even a small act of humility allows you to grow your compassion and can help you develop gratitude in the moment.  A grateful person has a humble heart for if we relinquish our arrogance and pride, we can receive a blessing with a grateful heart, and humbly return them back into the world.

It takes courage to allow this to also come full circle. For while it takes strength to renounce pride and give humbly, it also takes courage to find your own weakness and stand before someone and accept their act of humility. For the majority of my life I was conditioned to never show weakness for it was only fodder for the fire of someone else’s hatred and anger; to return to me as a projectile in some unnamed war.  I have struggled to accept acts of compassion and kindness out of fear, I suppose I held tight to that part of my pride, standing behind it as a shield of sorts. The bravery it takes to look within one’s self and see what is needed, the strength it takes to share those needs with others is an incredibly humbling act; for we are not intended to drift through life alone without support and love.  Having been blessed with a safe environment to show my vulnerability I have learned  gratitude and compassion that now fuels my humility, seeing the cycle come full circle at times is a gift not a danger.

It takes strength to move past the ego, pride, and arrogance to begin to practice humility. It takes courage to set aside our past experiences and face fear to learn a new way, that all offers are not dangerous, but are just acts of kindness and compassion offered from a humble heart.

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”  – Alice Walker

Holding Vigil

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I have finally reached the end, the path no longer marked. The map I had is tattered and all that remains are the words written on my heart.

I have asked for direction but no response has arrived. So now I know not where to go, what course to abide.

Through the pray and quiet, in the stillness of my heart and soul, I am told to wait, for compassion and patience are what are needed at this time.

So I suppose I shall sit here and hold vigil waiting for the clouds to part. At this point I can only send into the world what resounds with the stillness in my heart.

For when the sun shines again I may find the answers which I need or the new inclination with which to proceed. For now I can only sit and weather the remainder of storm, holding tight to endearment and empathy.

 

 “We lose ourselves in things we love. We find ourselves there, too.” ― Kristin Martz

Succumb

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The seaworthy vessel capsized a lifetime ago, leaving nothing but the fear the water and effects scattered. Quelling the panic, quickly treading water and gaining bearings. The only choice is to begin swimming against the current which seemed the like the right choice under the noonday sun, not so much now. The dread and doom Sisyphus must have felt; to wake every morning and face the same insurmountable task with no hope of completion nor success, life without hope.  Maybe the gifts already imparted, compassion to one, spirit to the other and willfulness to the third with sprinklings of intelligence to all three are the only things that can be provided.  As the darkness of the day descends the continual futility of the upstream battle has taken its toll, maybe floating for a bit with the current is the only real choice that remains,  otherwise one would yield to the water, collapse from my weakness and succumb.

 

 “I surrender myself to everything. I love, I feel pain, I struggle. The world seems to me wider than the mind, my heart a dark and almighty mystery.” ―Nikos Kazantzakis