Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is it Friday yet?




For the past 10 days, I've been mulling a provocative quote and question posed by Marcia Hyatt of Waterline in her weekly newsletter:

"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness,
and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity."
~Carl  Jung
 
Where do I need more patience and equanimity? 

My first answer was more like a question: um, everywhere? But somehow that seemed like cheating, so I've let question rattle around in my brain for a while, and I got clarity about it this week. Humbling clarity.

For the sake of the innocent (and not so innocent), I'll leave off the names and details. Let's just say it's been a hard 3 days at work. With a few tears. And a few embarrassing comments I wish I could take back. One verrrrrry long day. Some miscommunication. Some big ole fears triggered. And, mercifully, some resolution today.

But I very clearly lost any and all equanimity during the past 76 hours. I even uttered the words, "I expect an apology," which runs so counter to all I've learned since the Year of the Sledgehammer, when I realized that I can have expectations of myself, but to have them of others or even of a situation is to plant seeds of resentment. And, honestly, who needs that?

So, I love the concept of equanimity, that quality of remaining detached, wise, and yet fully present, kind, and so serenely grounded one cannot be moved off center. Like Nelson Mandela. Or Winnie the Pooh. Or Sister Paula at Clare's Well.

I don't know many people who embody equanimity, though I know some truly patient souls. I think it must take practice and discipline and deep trust that the universe is fundamentally good. That last one? Check. The first one? Working on it. The middle one, well, that may be what's tripping me up.

So, if you have suggestions about discipline or any other ideas about cultivating equanimity, please share them with me? I'm all ears. 

Image by Vicky's Nature

17 comments:

Shrinky said...

I have a feeling you carry far more wisdom than I do regarding such matters! Meeting anger with anger always throws oil on the fire, doesn't it? A disarming smile heals a potetial mountain of hurt (not that I usually remember that until AFTER the fact, of course - sigh). It is so true we are only hurt if our expactations are not met, and we sometimes set those expectaions far too high!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

I don't know what happened - but the quote you used is marvelous. I should have used that one in my post last night. Hopefully, things will work out in the workplace.

The stress of the season takes its toll. We are all tired. Ready for a break, but the break sometimes doesn't come in the proper form, huh?

I am most certain, however, that you will have the peace within yourself to help piece together and mediate between broken spirits today.

Derrick said...

Hi Kathleen,

I'm sure you are more nearly geared to achieving this than many. Human nature leaves us rather wanting in many ways and it takes time, experience and a special spirit to look upon things with equanimity.

Hilary said...

It's not always easy to walk away after a bad situation and study ourselves to see what we've learned and how we could do better. I'm impressed with your insight. And with that wonderful dragonfly photo.

Suldog said...

Oh, I suppose most I'd have to say might sound trite - God makes all work for good; All will become clear, so be at peace now; The check's in the mail - but I think a person of your wisdom, insight, and taste (that is, a person who has complimented my writing) probably knows, already.

God exists in us all, even the person who appears entirely UN-Godly. Look for the place where God exists in those people who piss you off. When you find it, tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they don't deserve to have it and, if you had your way, you'd rip it out of them right now, especially if it was their heart.

Oh, wait, that didn't come out as I wished. What I meant to say was that the best way to gain peace and joy for yourself is to give it on to others as the opportunity permits.

In any case, thank you, again, for your wonderful comments over at my place. You provided ME with joy via them, so you should expect some to redound to you soon!

ellen abbott said...

I try not to have expectations, that way I'm not disappointed but just accept and enjoy what comes my way. The key word here being 'try'. I'm not always successful. Like when I was putting my energy into being a sought after gallery artist. Caused no end of unhappiness. Now that I've let that go, I wonder if I'll ever get back to that work.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to get rid of negative emotions and most times I do pretty good. By that I don't mean that I will never experience bad or sad but...what Jung said.

OK, start by forgiving yourself (it's the hardest thing for me to do).

Oh and discipline? Why is that so hard?

Rudee said...

"when I realized that I can have expectations of myself, but to have them of others or even of a situation is to plant seeds of resentment."

Now I find this concept very interesting, and one I don't think would be realistic for me. I do have expectations of others, especially colleagues. I try to be understanding of the pressures they face, but sometimes I run out of patience. Many just don't do what's expected of them and turf it to the off shift where we lack, hello, the resources of the day staff. There are two of us at night to cover the entire city and dozens of "them". It especially annoys me when they can't seem to get to someone in crisis at 8 in the morning and figure it'll keep until I come on at 4. This happened once to me. I didn't mind seeing the patient at 4pm, what upset me is why it took so long to get resolution and why someone had to be in need for soooo long. While I expected no apology, it's my job after all, I did make sure the patient got one.

There is a fine line between equanimity and being a doormat, Kathleen. I think in order to avoid the latter, one must use her voice when things aren't going right--she just needs to strive to find the right tone and words so feelings are spared.

But expectations? You can and should have them of others. If the expectation is that I'll do something for you and I don't, well, I've not met my obligation to you. Are you supposed to accept this as though you have no thoughts or feelings about the situation? I don't think so, but in retrospect, you can review how you handled your particular situation and determine how you'll change in the future.

In the meantime, take that hairshirt off. It must be terribly itchy.

Barb said...

By just asking the question, you begin walking the path...

Dianne said...

the photo is so beautiful

I have been dealing with a trying home situation and I am finding that patience comes easier to me when I first see the other person as I think they see themselves

takes a leap of faith and a lot of assumptions based on experience but it does remove me from my own craziness and makes them more human, thus easier to have compassion for

♥ Braja said...

Samata, equanimity, refers to freedom from attachment and aversion. To be very much attached or to be very much detached is not the best. This material world should be accepted without attachment or aversion.
(from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, purports)

Alice Audrey said...

I hear you on the long days. Seems as the daylight gets shorter, what needs to get done gets longer.

darsden said...

Merry Christmas and Have a very Blessed New Year!

Becky said...

This post really spoke to me this morning . It always feels like a good start to the day when I come across some writing that really helps me make sense of things, and points me in a helpful direction. What a lovely channel you have here. Greetings from England.

Poetikat said...

Kathleen, My best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Kat

Land of shimp said...

I have no words of true wisdom here, but I will tell you what I would tell my son, and what I would do. If you feel that you were your lesser self in an interaction, make it right. That's how we change, not by simply noting when we weren't our best, but by going to the person we hurt and apologizing without any "but"s or waffling.

That's the best way I know to restore equanimity. By making the counter-balancing effort. Don't beat yourself up, we all fail resoundingly when it comes to be perfect.

But we keep trying to do better by doing, I guess :-)

King of New York Hacks said...

Sending you good tidings and some very loud Christmas Honks from Times Square NYC !! MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!

Kathleen said...

@My lovely friends: Thank you SO much for your amazing wisdom and insight. All your words helped me mightily get through a a tough week. I had intended to respond to each of you individually, but the aftermath of the the event that prompted the post definitely was a time drain, and then the holidays snuck and, well, once I again I found myself behinder and behinder. Please know I treasure and gave much thought every word you sent!

Gratefully,
Kathleen

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