Saturday, August 24, 2013

Being who we are, allowing others to be

As I walk through the forest in the summer, I am always in awe of the hundreds of shades of green, and the diversity of the textures of the plants and leaves. It would be pretty boring if there were only one color or one type of plant. Instead I see a diverse ecosystem where everything from the towering pine to the rotting fallen tree on the forest floor serves a purpose and has a reason to be.

We are like that too, according to the angels and yet, at times, when you interact with someone whose way of being is different than your own, it can be a challenge to find that balance between allowing yourself to be who you are and allowing them to be who they are as well. If you can master this with someone who is not in agreement with you, that's really an achievement.

I thought I had achieved a degree of mastery in allowing myself and others to be and in truth I have, but the real test came last week when I spent a glorious week on an Alaskan cruise with my dear parents who celebrated their fiftieth anniversary this year. I was so excited to go and to see them, that I couldn't wait! So it was with some shock and upset that I remembered at times when we interacted that my dad and I, in spite of our many similarities, have a few glaring differences, that arise out of the necessity of our being. He was a Captain in the navy reserves - a job that calls for barking orders and having others follow them immediately. He is by nature a leader. I am such a sensitive soul that words spoken harshly even if not aimed at me in anger often feel like a slap or a punch in the gut. So the first time my dad spoke strongly to me, I found myself, much to my great upset and embarrassment reacting in an angry and defensive way. He didn't mean a thing by it, but it still didn't feel good. I saw a lifelong pattern that I had of reacting to this and knew it had to stop.

So I did what the angels taught me to do. I took some quiet time and allowed myself my feelings in private. I prefer kinder conversation, but I had to come to grips with the fact that while we often had this between us there would be times when we would not. I knew there were times when we would not always make the same choices, even when walking from point A to point B. I decided as the angels often say, that it is better to be loving than right, and really what is "right" anyway but "right for yourself" and "right for the other." So, not altogether gracefully, but eventually in a way that worked, I reminded myself that dad's way of speaking did not mean anything personal. I know he loves me very much and I focused on that. I reminded myself that while my own way of being involves meandering according to my heart in the moment, his as a scientist involves doing things the logical way. I surrendered to the logic reminding myself that a loving interaction is ultimatel y what the heart wants more than anything. My ego had to take a back seat. It turned out to be a loving and beautiful trip.

So when your way of being is at odds with another you have many options. You can part ways. You can initiate a conversation if that is possible and come to a compromise, or you can simply let someone else be in charge for a short while. There is no clear right vs. wrong here, only a need to drop into your heart and pick the path that feels most right to you. It is a waste of time to try to change the essence of who you are or the essence of who another is. However you can if you like, alter your behavior without altering your heart. In some cases I would walk away from these behaviors, but in the case of my family, this is not what was deepest in my heart.

Love is ultimately who we are, and ultimately we can always be that :)

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