Ten Thousand Days

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 392 – 398)

September 20, 2015
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Photo: Jordan McQueen

On Thursday of this week we passed a milestone of another full month of gratitude!

This week my life is reflecting the inadequacies of relationships lived long distance and over text messaging.  Sometimes, it is the best we have but nothing replaces the real world.  Also, this week my overwhelming thought was: “Could I get through one week without unnecessary drama, emotional upheaval and seriously bad news?”  We all go through phases in our lives that are difficult and I’m sure that in the middle of them, we do think – could I just have a respite, please?

I am grateful that I can get a flight back to Canada next weekend. I need to go back for business but also it will be important to see family. I have not seen them since May and things change with people’s health and I really want to spend some time with them.  I don’t want to say more on that except that I am present enough to know that it is important I fly home.

I haven’t had a lot of time with my family over the past 20 years because I left Canada around 1994. But, I make as much time as I can to see them – certainly several weeks a year. It is difficult on me to travel with such a big time difference but I will just deal with the jet lag when I return and I’ll be fine by November, I hope.

It is when things happen to the people we love that we really lose tolerance for all the unnecessary drama in our lives.

 

Unnecessary drama is sometimes our own fault because of what we tolerate and we will continue to have it till we stop tolerating the behaviour that goes along with it.  I am grateful for a hard lesson I learned in boundaries and compassion.

This week, I gave a second chance to the person who stood me up last week.  I wasn’t sure I should, but I do believe in second chances.

We made arrangements again to meet for something that would help his business.  There was very little in it for me.  The day before we were meant to meet, he made a very poor joke.  He joked that I had too much interest in him.  (?!?)   I felt his behaviour and his comment were arrogant and insulting.  I let him know that  his joke was not appreciated.

As WRDSMTH so eloquently put it (photo courtesy of @nixxnak)

    As you may have already predicted, the next morning when we were supposed to meet, he cancelled again for a reason that made no sense.                        I got angry.  This person wasted my time and wasted my energy and thereby did not respect me.  That’s not okay.  He took advantage of my compassionate nature and treated me as if I was less important than he is.           But, as I sit with it, I see that the latter thought and my anger is simply ego.  I know who I am, and I know we are not separate or better or worse.  We just sometimes think that we are.  And, I see that compassion is complex.  I engaged with this person out of personal reasons.  I had compassion for what seemed to be emotional suffering around disconnectedness.  That suffering is long standing and would not have disappeared, nor would he have learned better social skills in the few weeks I had known him. If I really wanted to help alleviate the suffering of a person who was disconnected from others, I had to accept that his current repertoire of skills was lacking.  If I am to help him, I need to accept him as he is, set boundaries to protect my energy, offer alternative ways of relating, and not punish him around the ways he fends off connection.             I see now, that I really had bit off more than I had intended to chew, but I would do more harm than good by wading in and reinforcing old patterns for him and for me. The drama was not just because of bad behaviour on his part, but because of my response to it. As I sit with it, I see that  I can still set and keep a boundary, have compassion and do what I can to help alleviate both of our suffering, with clear communication.   I am grateful for the life lesson and although it took too long to learn it,  I am grateful nonetheless, because I am becoming more nuanced in my approach to people who all live in shades of gray and who lead complicated lives with challenges that most of us cannot understand.  I am grateful that I am learning my lessons more quickly and am being offered deeper ways of relating than I once would have.                      Joy this week came in spending time with Pn.  We had a few drinks to send him off as he returns to his home in another country.  I spent a few minutes of the evening speaking only to him.  It was a nice few moments and I really wish we had had more of them.  I like him so much as a person and I am really interested in knowing more about his art.                I love finding his pieces in the street and watching them evolve.  The pieces he has done in London are quite different from the pieces he has done in his home country (according to his instagram account) and I would love to see his work in his home country as well.  He is such a gentle, kind, thoughtful and genuinely good person.  He is filled with light.  I don’t think anyone could meet him and not like him.      Everything about him is an enigma but it really doesn’t matter, because he brings to the moment something that is so pure.    I have only known him a little while and in a few encounters but I will miss him. I am grateful to have met him and for every moment I had with him.  And, I am grateful for yet another difficult lesson in letting go.  I’m not there yet and I’m sure that I will be spending time with his art for a long time to come.  I think he’d be okay with that.                 And that brings me to Oneness.  As you know, there is a special Oneness I have with that thing greater than myself which I get through looking at art.  I engage with each artist’s work differently.  Much like Alo has, Plin’s work has encouraged me to slow down and really look deeply.  Intellectually, I continue to discover more depth in his work, the more I look.  I can see beautiful paintings on the streets and appreciate and admire the styles.  But I never feel invited to engage with them in the same way as I do with Plin’s characters.  I was thinking about why is it I only touch his art?  I’ve tried it with another artist and it just felt wrong.  I felt that I was doing something wrong and that the artist would not like me touching their painting.  But with Plin, there is a feeling of purity – not in the prim sense but in the sense of being stripped away of pretense and of being distilled to the essence. Perhaps there is a rawness to it, but his characters invite me in to their world.  Whether they look fierce, or funny, or even a little sad, they talk to me before I can even talk to them, and when I see them, we are on an adventure together.  I feel compelled to stop and share a bond with them through touch.        

 

With Alo, I talk to his paintings.  They often have tears and so I ask them why they’re crying and I try to ‘listen’ to the art to ‘hear’ an answer.  I take time with Alo’s paintings.  I once touched one to see if it was a painting or a paste up and I felt wrong for doing it.  I love Alo.  I’m not sure he’d mind but it didn’t feel right so I won’t do it again. With his work, I listen….I have not yet been able to hear a response, but some things take time.

 

  Even with Fanakapan, whose work is so whimsical and often evokes happy childhood images, I engage differently.  With Fanakapan, I hear music or rhymes.  I see his work and I come away with a broad smile and singing aloud, but I never consider touching a piece.          

 

I may soon become known as the crazy lady of Brick Lane who sings to and talks to and touches art.  I don’t care.  Engaging with art connects me to the artist and to the collective unconsciousness that each of them has channelled.  Being in that collective unconsciousness gives me energy and I am grateful I have found a portal to it through engaging with art.

 

If you are unhappy, go and look at art.

 

Well, I guess that leaves service for this week…..I didn’t do anything earth shattering this week….because I have wanted to demonstrate how small things add up.  I offered an interview to a couple of lesser known artists (not street artists) whose works I admire and one took up the offer…stay tuned.  And, as a friend was marking a milestone, I gathered some people around him. The group was small on short notice, but I think it was exactly who was meant to be there.  I think he was touched by knowing that people care. We all just want to be loved, in the end, and it is important to show our love every way we can.  To me, if we act always from love, that is the greatest service we can do for one another.

 

So, it just remains for me to ask you:

 

For what are you grateful, today?

 

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