Thursday, June 26, 2014

This being human...

This being human is a guest house...

So starts one of my favourite poems by Rumi and the resource I forward any friend who is in the throes of grief.

The line danced into my head as I was washing the dishes earlier today. I'd been pondering how I'd been stuffing my gob with sugar most of the day yesterday and woke up feeling deflated today.

I realised that some of my "stuff" had been tiggered by a lovingly curious conversation. I noticed all the usual business -- feeling overwhelmed and inadequate -- and tried to let it pass through with as much loving kindness as I could muster. I also noticed the urge to trip my "task master" switch: the one that sends me into manic To Do mode, with all the negotiating finesse of a hippopotamus in boxing gloves.

I wondered if there would ever come a time when well-intentioned and perfectly appropriate conversations would not trigger my "stuff". If I'd not turn to salted caramels and smoked almonds and yet another cup of coffee to navigate the morning. If I could soften in to the challenge rather than pull myself up sharply by the bootstraps.

And then the image of my lovely therapist popped into my head, challenging me gently: "But you thought you would be different to everyone else?"

She had said this in the context of another conversation and we later discussed how much I liked the way she said it. There was no accusation in it, no mocking, no bemusement. It felt like a gentle observation, a kind reflection of where I was at. And it felt true.

I recall stopping short. And thinking to myself, "Huh! I really did think I should have done better than every other human being in the same situation, even though it is well known (and I know) that most people struggle with it?" And then, with genuine wonder, "How funny!" Which, in turn, enabled me to ask without a trace of threat, "Wonder what's up with that?"

Today, as I saw all my stuff come up once again, that line of Rumi's danced in my head.

This being human is a guest house...

This business of being human is all about the feelings coming up and passing through. Our job as humans is to notice them, let them pass through, with as much compassion and curiosity as we can manage.

Today, washing the dishes, I remembered that I am no different from most humans now, or back in the 13th Century BCE.

We all have stuff and sometimes it gets on top of us. If we're lucky, we know where it comes from -- even if we can't always see it coming -- and we can build the skills to emerge from the fog with a tiny bit more strength and grace.

Maybe we'll clam up less. Maybe we won't numb out with quite so much sugar. Maybe we'll talk ourselves down before our anxiety reaches fever pitch and we snap the next person's head off (then hate ourselves for hours for being so mean).

Or maybe we won't.

But maybe, over time, even just the fact of being self-aware will help us become the most caring and capable human beings that we can be.

And maybe that is what makes us not like most human beings... and maybe a little bit special.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read that rumi ... and I needed it so much today. Thank you!