Distinctions, Superstitions and Change
Distinction is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as discrimination, or differentiation between two different things. Making distinctions effectively makes the difference between living in reality and living in made-up land, the place where one’s imaginings run one’s life.
Superstition, an irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance of a particular thing, occurrence or circumstance, same reference, is a form of imagining, a deterrent to living in the real world. For example, “If lightening were to strike in Frederick, it would strike my house.” Or regarding government, “Things never change.”
The tree that fell into my backyard last year, hitting and failing to destroy my impossibly derelict garage, leaving me still in the hands of the Historic Preservation Commission, did not mean God was playing with me. It happened, and that’s all there is to say about it.
Making the distinction between what occurs and the meaning we give it, is both a lot of work, and hugely liberating.
This has been a good year for distinctions for me.
I’ve learned, reminded by personal illness and sudden deaths among friends and acquaintances, that there really is no tomorrow. We only have one moment, the present one, in which to live. Accepting the riskiness of procrastination and getting off one’s hindquarters to do what one has in mind to do can be the most liberating and empowering of experiences.
Being open and vulnerable is a lot less risky than closing oneself off in self defense, as there is no real defense against pain and loss. All you lose when closed off is the chance of happiness. Grief is inescapable, sometime or other.
More important than moral platitudes is that misbehaviors, lies, etc., just don’t work. If lies are part of your relationships, the relationships don’t work. That doesn’t mean you have to fess up about the one night stand you had 20 years ago. You should probably just keep that one to yourself, weighing relief of conscience against the greater good. It does mean that letting the truth of who you are be visible is the secret to true relationship.
Leadership and parenting, very similar occupations, are not just about nurturing others and making them feel good. People feel good when they are achieving and meeting or surpassing expectations. When you’re supporting to excess, or enabling, instead of honoring others, including children, by expecting the best of them, people feel uncomfortable and disempowered. People do read body language and signals of untruth. They know you’re not being completely honest.
Things can change, no matter how much superstitious talk to the contrary abounds in our world. We fly in airplanes instead of riding in buggies. Much of our communication takes place on the Internet, rather than in person. We can buy Thanksgiving dinner, already cooked, from the grocery store. Michael Vick has gone from being an arrogant guy and dog abuser, to becoming a spokesman for the Humane Society, as well as a serious, awesome, grateful quarterback.
One person counts. Once, when my granddaughter Addie, then a toddler, was under my care with her two brothers, she escaped my yard through a front gate left unlatched by a workman. As I was searching and demanding of her brothers, “Where is Addie?,” a young man, giving me a very serious look, opened that downtown privacy gate and placed my precious, beautiful, brown eyed, curly haired little girl inside it without a word. That man counts. I thank God for his existence to this very day, years later.
This year, I’ve been working in a personal coaching program for children and teens. Our manager, someone I disliked at first meeting, has been very difficult to work with. She has been, in my view, taking on some of my responsibilities without telling me, or re-doing things I had done, failing to trust and empower me, etc. When confronted, instead of doing the usual “It’s not my fault dance” or bringing up my myriad faults, she had the courage to walk down the path of finding the truth about herself. Because of her willingness to face reality and her courage in admitting her part in our dysfunctional dance, I stayed on to continue working with her. We’re actually building a relationship of trust and workability and friendship, to the benefit of the organization, I can only hope.
Denying the possibility of change, or the power of one person, removes from possibility the one person who could be the one who changes the world.
All of this is not easy. But just imagine yourself as a small child, afraid to go to sleep because of the monsters under the bed. How would your life look if you got out of the bed and looked underneath it? How would you feel once back in bed? Would you sleep, or lie awake giggling with delight all night?
During this Christmas Season, while I’m cuddling and keeping warm, sharing gifts and food and hugs with family, friends and even strangers, I’m going to be counting my blessings ,one of the biggest being the learning this year has brought.
Let’s all get it that our every move counts, our time is short, being loving and respectful and loved by others is the best gift.
Let’s hit the ground running next year, open our minds to all there is and all there isn’t, and make our bit of the world a better place. We can, you know. Happy Holidays!