Perfectly Imperfect

I admit it, I’m not perfect. And today was the day (well, one among many) that I felt the need to prove it.

Have you ever woken up and had that feeling, you know, the one where you feel like whatever anyone does or says, you just might punch them right in the mouth? Unless you’re some kind of divine entity walking the Earth in the guise of human flesh, of course you have.

Today was that day for me.

So what did I do with that feeling? Did I announce I was going to the beach and run away from any and all human interaction like a sane person would? No. Did I ask Tony (calmly and with resolve) to put all sharp objects away and to avoid making eye contact with me? No. Did I avoid drinking coffee – that dark, mood-deepening liquid that tends to irritate my senses? No. Did I turn off the modem and avoid any and all communications? Nope, that neither. And that is where the REAL trouble began.

Instead of doing all the aforementioned things and maybe a few others (take a valium for instance), I sat down at my computer and commenced to pen an email to a friend and neighbor. Without getting into the details, I wrote a nasty, negative, complaint-filled email and basically tried to alienate two of the few friends I have left in this backwoods hell-hole (hmmm, ya, I guess I’m still not over my negativity).

THEN I left and went surfing and got some perspective.

Yes, there is nothing quite like being one with Mother Ocean to clear the head and lend some perspective. Now why didn’t I do this BEFORE sending the nastygram? Why didn’t I show a little humility and just SAVE the email without sending it? Because, like I already said, I’m not perfect. And sometimes, the little shitty crap of life gets in the way of my ability to be good and kind and thoughtful. Sometimes I just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and then throw a little fuel on the fire by drinking coffee.

For the record, I should never drink coffee. The first time I drank coffee I thought I was going to die. I thought for sure my heart would pound right out of my chest and make a bloody mess of my pajamas. My heart raced that fast. Clearly I have a sensitivity.

But still, I drink it now and then. And if I’m in a foul mood it just cranks up the volume.

The challenge of course came when I returned from my mood-enhancing surf session and realized the full weight of what I’d done. There were replies in my inbox, several of them, and now I had to face the music, pay the piper, bite the bullet shot from my own rifle, swallow that bitter little pill.

So I ate crow. I saw the error of my emailing ways and choked on some humble pie – a pie filled with my own caustic words.

To err is human, to forgive divine.

I hope my friends are feeling Godly.

Duck Soup

In a recent blog, Forgetting Forgiveness, the issue of when to bring up past injustices was discussed. In this case concerning a specific slight felt at the hands of a friend, a long, long time ago. A friend who was no longer in the life, but with whom communication had recently resumed thanks to the miracle of Facebook. It was wondered whether the subject should be raised or just left in the past and forgiveness granted silently.

After some days of consideration, the decision was that the issue should be raised. Because, in the words of the advice giver, “trust must be the basis for all relationships.” He felt it was a matter of the trust having been broken between us and that the other must apologise before the friendship could be renewed.

In the days leading up to the history composition, a feeling in the gut was felt each time the topic was considered..a subtle sense – call it intuition – that this was not the right course of action. Even as the message was written, detailing the circumstances and their emotional results, the sensation continued – nagging and churning in the pit of the stomach.

Despite the misgivings, the friend received the email with great understanding and compassion, even tenderness. It was admitted apologetically, however, that neither the incident nor its long term consequences were remembered. But how was this possible? The pain experienced was recalled with such clarity, as though it had been branded into the soul on that day 27 years ago.

The recipient of the email did offer up an explanation of sorts, which in a few days time would gain deeper, more universal meaning. She wrote,

“I was so caught up in my own suffering, I was oblivious to your pain.”

We were both suffering, unaware of our shared emotional pain. The thought arose, “How could this be when we had been such close friends?”

And then the larger context of what had happened begged to be understood. What causes suffering? Why do we human beings seem to be in an almost constant state of suffering. Discontent, anger, resentment, bitterness, anxiety and depression seem to be the predominant emotions permeating the planet. It seems to be rare to encounter someone who seems genuinely happy and isn’t just saying “I’m great!” in an attempt to hide the truth or convince themselves that all is well in the world. Because we also share a blindness to each others suffering, the charade of pretending to be happy can be seen as even more tragically ironic.

The Buddhists say that life IS suffering. And we are only released from it upon realizing enlightenment. Okay, fine, but what about those of us who are mere mortals a long way from Siddhartha’s Banyan tree? Surely we aren’t meant to go through life suffering day in and day out? What would be the point of that?

The answer came a few days later in the form of a book.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book “A New Earth: Awakening your life’s purpose,” professes to have the answer to these questions and many more. Most importantly and impressively, he tells us how to end suffering. All suffering.

According to Mr. Tolle, the EGO is at the core of all unhappiness and conflict in the world, on an individual, national and international level. Infighting, petty bickering, crime, wars and all manner of conflict, he says, result from egos out of control, trying to dominate and maintain power in the individual and in the world.

While it is normal to have an ego – and we all do – the problem arrises when the ego runs the show – suffering can be the only result. To accomplish its end of getting and staying in control, the ego tricks us into thinking “we are it” and that the ego is therefore essential to our very survival. Fear of death is directly the result of our identification with the ego.

This ego-indentification occurs gradually as we grow up and mature, becoming particularly combersome during adolescence when self-consciousness, insecurities (all products of the growing ego) become the emotions driving our actions and all too often reactions. The more we identify with the ego, the more we feel separate from the “other” and become blind to the fact that they are experiencing similar emotions.

Identification with the ego distracts us from the reality of life. The “beingness” of life that can get us out of the cycle of suffering.

The ego, it turns out, is a lot like a whining child looking for attention. The ego likes to bring up the past and make us worry about the future. It is concerned with “I”, “me” and “mine.” It is that part of each of us that clings to the past by identifying so strongly with “our story.” It needs to be right and prove others wrong. It is the voice in the head that never shuts up. It keeps us from living in, and thereby enjoying, the present moment.

Mr. Tolle would assert it was the ego that in the present circumstance needed to bring up the past injustice, that needed to be consoled, apologized to, told it was right and the “other” wrong. And that by doing this the ego empowered itself, guaranteed its continued existence and, sadly, continued suffering.

Two ducks on a pond meet and begin to fight. Feathers fly and they squawk and honk and make a ruckus. Then, as quickly as it started the fighting ends and they swim away in opposite directions. The ducks then both stretch their necks out and shake all their feathers. They settle and then glide back together as though nothing happened.

The duck at the core of the Being urges us to shake out our ruffled feathers and move forward. To let go of the past and recognize that we are all the same at heart, all afflicted by the same suffering. And rather than dredge up old grievances, to be happy that at long last, the lost friend is back in the life.

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To buy A New Earth: Awakening your life’s purpose go HERE.

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Forgetting Forgiveness

You know that saying that goes around by email every once in a while, the one about how friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime? Well, regardless of how corny it might be, lately I’ve been thinking about that notion, what it really means and how various people have touched my life over the years. More specifically I’ve been thinking about how Facebook has thrown a wrench into the natural order of things and really stood the notion on its head.

In FB, we find a new force acting on the nature of relationships. All of a sudden we are in contact with people we’ve not seen nor heard from in years, decades, possibly a lifetime. People we would otherwise never get back in touch with.

On the phone to a reconnected FB friend recently, I wondered “Just how many marriages do you think are being destroyed by Facebook?” Relationships broken asunder by old flames reconnecting, for better or worse and more often than not due to boredom. [Not completely irrelevant is the fact that the friend in question happened to be someone I’d had a burning crush on for the majority of my adolescence and I was really wondering what his wife thought about us getting reacquainted on FB.]

Reconnecting with old friends inevitably leads us down the dusty, vine-ridden and hidden paths in the garden of memories. I happen to have a memory as long as a toothpick, but it’s a tragic flaw of the human psyche that even I can remember injustices or unkind words like it was yesterday. On the other hand, we must receive a compliment upwards of a dozen times before we actually believe and remember it.

And so the distant past comes into view through the foglight of a jogged memory. The depths of pain and sorrow felt at the hands of long-lost friends are remembered more easily than memories of sunny days building sand castles and swimming at the lake.

The question at hand is whether there is a point to bringing up a deep emotional wound to the person who so many years ago bore the blood-stained sword of friendship. In the current situation, there has never been an opportunity to address the issue head on. The wound was delivered and soon after our paths diverged.

Dredging up the past. Old wounds heel. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Can forgiveness can be granted in silence, without extension of the olive branch on the part of the other? Is the betrayal even remembered? “How could it not?” Was the depth of the wound perceived? “Callus bastards they would have to be and therefore not worthy of renewed friendship.”

An insightful friend of the present feels strongly that the issue cannot be ignored. “Trust,” he said, “must be the basis for all relationships. Without it, you cannot have a relationship. And this person broke your trust. To move forward, to renew your friendship you must address this issue and they must apologize.”

Dear reader, what do you think?