Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life Together

A video by the artist Courtney Kessel resonated with me. I keep thinking about the imagery. Her work titled In Balance With is of a seesaw that juxtaposes a mother at one end and a child with her accumulating belongings at the other end. The images capture the accommodations a mother makes to balance life with a child. The mass opposite the mother demonstrates there is a lot of stuff to counter balance in life with children, even children we love dearly and that we want in our lives.

Sometimes difficult people or circumstances aren't wanted in our lives, but they too require a balancing act. We might ignore these relationships or pretend they don't bother us, but they linger, remain unfinished, and despite every story we tell ourselves and others, the pain, the frustration, or the loss doesn't go away. A hatchet remains embedded in the psyche draining and sapping the vitality and love at the core of our being. This evolves into an all-consuming wound that festers, oozes, and deepens as years go by. Maybe you don't like fill-in-the-blank, but it's a relationship that you have to deal with to have balance in your life.

Public radio played an interview over the weekend about twins trying to get along. One twin said, "I don't like her," about the other. I felt for her and at the same time I know it doesn't help to say it. We all think it, sometimes say it, but it keeps us stuck despite the veracity of the statement or feeling-- energy focused on the negative keeps us on the dark side.

While we're busy focusing on the other's evil plots, hateful disposition, we are distracted from the moment of life at hand for ourselves. We invest time in telling our story, their shortcomings, and it does indeed show the other's flaws. Ahem, we all have flaws. The other may be selfish, but who is innocent of this? The other may even be evil and distant at best, but when a relationship must exist, and it must if you are already spending time grousing about it, then you have to find a way beyond complaining, storytelling, and lamenting.

These complex relationship linger a lifetime because to change them, we must change ourselves which is difficult because to we want the other person to do this work. No change and we get to complain endlessly, leaving us free to remain in a state of paralysis all the days of our lives. Then again, no change and we repeatedly get hurt by giving power over to the other which furthers our role as the oppressed but doesn't help us with making any necessary growth or change. Real change? The focus has to be on what you can do about the relationship (instead of what the other should do). What can you do?

Why do I have to work so hard to get along with someone who makes it difficult? There is no easy answer beyond they are here and so are you. We can't spew all that pain and anger onto others and think, good riddance. The pain producer is inside you and it won't stop until you do. It grows with every drop of negative commentary until you are left with nothing else but your injustice, your pain, your loss. The well can't be capped, and it won't run dry, until you stop feeding it, and only you can do this. Don't feed the hate inside you. Starve the hate. Feed the love instead.

Feed the love? Think about love and the connection we all have. You have to come at the relationship you don't like with your fill-in-the-blank with an open heart, not a closed one. You have to let them float over and through you by facing them with the best of you-- you with love in your heart.

You can't control their anger, the pain, the injustice, but you can practice being in open and in the state of love by simply holding love in your heart and not hiding that love from them or anyone else. It is a shift of focus that takes nothing away from you. Instead it can make you more tolerant of comments, actions, and the unnecessary energy expenditures they demand of you. Instead of being loaded for bear, be filled with loving kindness.

Raise the bar on your relationships. Ask more of yourself. Someday, maybe the difficulties will pass, or not. You can't change the other, only yourself. It's time to think about life together and being in balance with all the relationships that you have. We think of brave acts as being those who rescue others from danger. How about saving yourself from destruction? Give it try. Be a heroine in your own life.

Think about what it means to hold love in your heart before you meet your loved ones. That is the same love that needs to be in your heart for the difficult ones, the ones that aren't so easy to love. The continual trash talk is a dime store novel with no meat, fast food that weakens your spirit. That other will not be expunged with hate and complaints, only with light and love. Love is the only path that can help us around hate, injustice, and wrong doing. Stop adding to the pain of the world just because you can.

Holding love in your heart in the face of difficult relations might benefit from practice-- try meditation. Sit with love in your quiet, sit with love when it's easy, and then walk with love with those relationships that are your nemesis. You get better at what you practice everyday.

Visualize a big pink glowing heart in your chest. It is warm. Allow its light to shine on all. Relate to others from this place, from this view. Change only where you look from, but look from love. Overlook the flaws, the injustice that can't be changed, and focus on the transaction before you not the one from yesterdays.

Your pain, your hate, your love. You choose what you give to us, to the world. There is room for more love, and we can balance so much more than we think.

In Balance With by Courtney Kessel

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