Tag Archives: life

If this… then…

First of all Happy New Year! I love this time of year. I know, I know, it’s only a calendar date, it has nothing to do with the seasons, the equinoxes, it’s all made up… But still, somehow… It’s New, isn’t it? And there’s something almost irrepressibly optimistic about something New.

I disappeared for a while. That’s kind of symbolic, I think. Various technical complications meant that this site was unreachable for a spell, then reappeared in some bizarre form, and today I have found it again. Funnily enough, I rather feel like I’ve found me again recently, too.

Last year, the year behind me, became rather unfocused towards the end. Or perhaps mono-focused is a better way of putting it. Too much was overlooked and fell by the wayside. I say this without guilt or rancour because it was very positive, if exhausting, and because I don’t believe in regrets, but in lessons learned. This Christmas season has brought a fabulous refocusing.

The mot du jour is balance. And it is I this I shall endeavour to hold onto into 2014.

There we have it – my rather over-worded Resolution. Because, you know, I don’t think it does any of us any harm at all to refocus on a fairly regular basis. Stop, take stock, whittle away what doesn’t make your soul sing, nourish what does…

I was listening to Jack Kornfield today. Again, somewhat by accident, I appear to have managed to sign up for Google Play and I haven’t the faintest idea how to unsubscribe, so I’m making the most of it ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I was very pleasantly surprised to find one of my gurus there.

And the part that stopped me mid-mushroom chopping was breathtakingly simple.

It always is, isn’t it?

And then, when you try to explain it to somebody, you’re in danger of being considered a simpleton yourself.

I’ll give it a shot anyway.

He said this:

If this…. then that.

If not this… then not that.

And, he said, that’s life.

It is a simple string of actions and consequences.

But the problems (and I’m no longer paraphrasing Mr Kornfield here) begin the moment we start to personalise those actions – your actions, my actions, his actions – we get into hot water. Forget all that, it mires you in anguish, anger, guilt, the desire for vengeance. And the only thing any of that will do is keep you locked in that time.

In that past.

In that last year.

Why not try:

If I let it go, then I can move on.

See, I said it was simple. And I’m not convinced I’ve conveyed it the way it makes sense in my head. I mean, I hope it’s obvious that if your actions were detrimental to another, you make amends, you make your peace, you take your lesson and you move on a better person. Or that if you were the person ‘wronged’, you can forgive, whether it is desired by the other person or not, take your lesson and move on a stronger person… Those parts, I hope, don’t need saying.

After all, as wonderful Jack says:

“In the end, just three things matter:

How well we have lived
How well we have loved
How well we have learned to let goโ€



My Two Wolves

I’m sure this story isn’t new to many of those reading this. But it bears repeating since, like so many things in this adventure called life, it is just a strand of the tapestry that has recently taken a more discernible form in my consciousness.

So here it is:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

โ€œMy child, there is a battle raging inside us all. It is between two wolves.

โ€œOne is Evil โ€“ It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

โ€œThe other is Good โ€“ It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.โ€

The grandson thinks about this for a minute or two.

โ€œWhich wolf wins?โ€

โ€œThe one you feed.โ€

It’s simple, isn’t it?

But, like so many things of such apparent simplicity, although 1) it’s true, 2) it’s much more easily said than done. Partly because the battle isn’t confined to an arena within ourselves. And ye gods, it’s a tough enough battle when it is confined to that arena.

Before I go any further, I’m not talking here about good and evil. There is no evaluation or judgement in what I am trying to say. What has become abundantly clear to me is that so much human relationship goes wrong when the relating is fear-based, and love is forgotten.

There is of course, the moment you start talking about love, a very real danger of sounding like a blissed-out hippie (which is no bad thing in itself, incidentally ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I mean, the Beatles, man. They said it, right? “All you need is love”? And YES! I want to shout. It’s TRUE! And if everyone is operating from the same field, removing ego from the game, without becoming a doormat (another fine balance) then there’s nothing to fear. You’re safe to love, and to be loved.

Trouble is, as I see it, if one person is operating from love, and the other from fear, the wolf driven by fear will keep on, teeth bared, until one of you backs down. Usually Love, because Fear will just continue attacking, for fear of being attacked. At which point, after repeated attempts to stop the fight, a few bite-marks and battle-scars acquired, Love shrugs his shoulders, patches up his wounds, and whispers (inaudibly, to Fear) “When you’ve lost your snarl, retracted your teeth and claws, I’ll be here. Until then…”

It seems to be another truth that people will suspect you of operating as they do. Their prediction of your response is based upon the way they would respond in the same circumstances. And if you are driven by fear, then attack is your predominant modus operandi – kill or be killed – and you will expect attack from everyone else, regardless of the wolf they feed. You feed fear, so you expect everyone else to.

It is a very difficult thing, eschewing fear and embracing love. (It is actually also proving rather difficult to talk about without sounding… oh, I don’t know, trite, or naive, or as though you have all the answers – hah!) Maybe it’s something you can achieve once and for all. Eventually. When you attain enlightenment. ๐Ÿ™‚

But for most of us, it is a battle we are invited to on a daily basis. And the most important thing I have learned about this fight,ย every single time it comes around, is:

The more you feed love, the stronger it becomes.

And fear? Well, it just kind of ceases to matter….


Teddy. No more. No less.


Day 7: Forgiveness and Personal Responsbility

Periodically, I come back to forgiveness. And each time I do, and prod it a little, gingerly, just at the edges at first, to see if it’s still tender, the quality is subtly different.

With time, growth, life, love, trust, things change…

We all have a story.

We all have someone to forgive.

But why do we find it so damned *hard*?

I have a suspicion that it all comes down to victim consciousness again. Whilst, I think we can all agree that we want to forgive and move on with our lives, that harbouring resentment is at best unhelpful, something keeps us there, locked into the battle, holding onto that resentment which stops us really forgiving…

We don’t want to let them off the hook

It becomes easy to say “I’m over it. I’ve moved on.” But have we really moved on if it still resurfaces when we think or talk about the object of our potential forgiveness? If thinking about them brings difficult feelings surging to the surface, there is still work to do.

Allow me to share a little of my own experience. After all, I feel I’ve rather run the gauntlet of the victim consciousness – anger and resentment – impotence – acceptance – compassion – forgiveness spectrum over the last half decade (almost)… Well, actually, if I am to be brutally honest, I think I’ve probably been a victim my entire life, until quite recently. I very clearly remember telling ‘my story’ to an older ‘mature’ student friend at university. A lot. And feeling very sorry for myself. And that was half my lifetime ago… She was a kind listener, sympathetic, and I was grateful, but looking back now I cringe rather. I wonder, a little, if it might not have been better for me to tell me to start looking forward, to stop dwelling on the past, to focus on what I do have in my life and release the fantasy experience I felt I should have had… But maybe that, too, is ungenerous. If everything happens when it is supposed to…

As I said, we all have a story. And those stories evolve and transmute over time. Mine involves pretty much every member of my immediate family, and I think that forgiveness is especially difficult if you feel ‘wronged’ by people you feel ‘are supposed’ to love you. (It is perhaps the subject for another day, the belief in the story… Why are they supposed to love you? Why was it wrong? And with deep examination of even these questions, presumptions about our entire lives, our whole worldview, it all begins to unravel). Over the last years I have really struggled with the concept of forgiveness. I had always understood (without giving it much examination) that if you follow a spiritual path, then surely forgiveness shouldn’t be difficult? Well… that was what I thought. But I don’t any more. I don’t think it is something you can just do. I don’t think it comes until you are ready. Until you have processed your life experience, until you have raged, grieved and let it go. In other words, I think that forgiveness is a kind of organic by-product of working through victim consciousness. When you stop blaming everyone else for the way you feel…

…Hang on. Let me stop there and examine that. What I didnt say was
“When you stop blaming everyone else for what they have done“, but
“When you stop blaming everyone else for the way you feel“…

Because these two things, I suspect, tend to meld in our minds into one. But they are so distinct. You cannot control what other people do. They may set out to hurt you on purpose, or simply hurt you incidentally. How it is done is secondary. What is important is your hurt. Because only you can control that part. You can choose to let it hurt you, or you can choose not to. It is fine to be flummoxed by someone else’s behaviour, words or actions. Every day, in this world, I witness things, the motivation for which I simply cannot fathom. Being confused or baffled by other people is almost an inevitable part of life. Taking their actions personally is the part that we can control.

The simple truth is that deliberately setting out to hurt someone else can only really hurt you. The buck stops with you. Your behaviour is under your control and no one else’s. So blaming your actions on extraneous circumstances simply doesn’t wash, does it? And if you hurt someone else because you acted without thinking, or insensitively, the buck still stops with you.

But we are talking about both sides of the coin here, aren’t we? Hurting and being hurt. If you act out of genuine compassion and love, without judgment, with integrity,ย mindfully, it would be enormously difficult to hurt someone (I’d like to say impossible…) And if you believe that everyone is following their own path, that everyone has their own lessons to learn, and that those lessons necessarily take them on routes that give them choices; that you might not like those choices (which are choices that they make for their own lessons, after all), but you don’t take their choices personally, then you can’t be hurt either… Does that make sense?

I tested my theory today, during my meditation. I prodded that hurt part of me very gently to see if it still hurt. I summoned into my mind the person with whom I have the longest history of hurt, whose victim I have allowed myself to be for the greatest time, and I found love. Not affection or fondness, I should add. I think that may be a bridge too far. Too personal. More a universal love for a fellow flawed human being. But more pertinently to this point today, not hurt or anger. Nothing difficult or edgy.


I have let it go.

And if I, a victim for almost four decades, a mummy, a daughter, a partner, an ex-wife, a sister, a friend, can do it…

What are you waiting for?

Start now.

It’s time to live. ๐Ÿ™‚