On Christmas Eve, my ex-husband, Jerry, picked Sam and I up at our house and drove out to my dad’s. It was a quiet night, our small clan broken off into little splinters, talking, telling jokes, each of us shirking off our issues and our worries to come together and exchange gifts, kindnesses, remembrances.
We each got very nice stuff, though it was shockingly sparse all-around this year, and then it was time to go home.
I sat in the little truck cab flip-seat behind Sam. Closer to home, I felt myself becoming a little overwhelmed, a little overcome. So I put my arms in front of me and draped them on my son’s chest, and I put my head down on the headrest that was right in front of me due to how small my seating space was. I rested my head, felt my hands holding Sam’s chest, turned my head, and looked at the way my son’s head was resting on the car window, fast asleep as he was.
Why is my position so important? Well, it’s not. I guess I wanted you to know that while crammed into a child’s jump seat, in a car alternately freezing and like a furnace, I had a revelation.
I saw Sam’s hair poking up from his scalp, just a few hairs, saw how they fluttered with the heating fan oscillation. I realized in one crystalline moment of perfection, how absolutely, mind-poppingly fun this whole thing is. How intricate and dainty and complex and loving. So much love, it was really overwhelming.
Usually I can bring back a nugget, or at least a sentence, but from where I visited, but sitting in back of Sam in that cramped car coming home from Christmas at Grandpa’s, all I can really bring back are the sighs of my heart and soul.
First of all, I saw, just briefly, that the car, and we passengers, were all there on that road by something far more potent than choice. We were there because we wanted to be.
And I thought on Sam’s tuft of hair. I thought of him as a baby, as a grown up man, and as he is in this moment. And I was so moved by the strength of will and character he has, and then, by extension, how each of us is pretty magnificent. Here is Sam, figuring our what it means to be 12 in 2012. Here is Jerry, figuring out what it means to love an imperfect woman who he is not bedding. Here am I trying to figure out how to make my life better, now that I understand I am conjuring it all up, I am a part of it, a party to it all.
So I sat there realizing that this is actually breathtakingly FUN.
I realized that all of it, the worries and the false starts and the dumb job and the no money and the mess and the chaos, hey, it’s fun. Not the turmoil and sadness and all of that, but even that is purposeful.
I got a glimpse with my heart and soul that it really is true, we are creating it as we go along.
So, why then do I create conflict?
If I am this big fancy creator being, why is my life not cake?
This is a very slippery slope I would like to warn everybody about.
Take my job, for instance. This morning, I am realizing that the agreement field I function within at work is not a great one. The people I tend to, on the whole, would rather take none of what I am selling. They feel like crap, they are scared and lonesome, and feel out of control. They are often in a primal place. They are not there to tend to me. I am there to tend to them. Period. End of list.
I do not take care of little old ladies coming into get their monthly perm. I do not sell that one great book you’ve been looking for forever. No. I am the one who wakes you up out of a sound sleep when you have a fever and insists I jam a huge metal rod into the papery skin on the back of your hand so that I don’t get in trouble with my stupid boss, because I just remembered, at four in the morning, that your IV has “expired.”
The other thing I am doing with work is making it so that I can have no meaningful connections with others. I work every other night shift. Come on. What am I to do on a day off? I can’t schedule classes, can’t routinely do anything, because my schedule is dumb. It was a great schedule when I was in hiding from my reality. But this, it just no longer serves, this schedule.
But the biggest thing I now understand about my job is that it is one which really, to be honest, requires that the energy flow be very firmly switched to the “give it away” area of the dial, not the “gimme some lovin’” area. I need to have enough of a full tank of love and kindness and tenderness, or it will become painful to keep giving.
I got that realization, this morning, about 15 years late.
But the message has been received. And now I don’t see getting a different job as a punishment or a burden. I see it as a necessity, in order to get more things I like, not even material things. But to work in an environment which is not set up for me to be made to feel a criminal, always checked up on and scrutinized, judged, evaluated.
I realize we American workers suffer more interpersonal violence at the hands of our bosses than we have ever dared mention, but I’d to work at a place where my every keystroke is not used as a threat. “We monitor everything, and we can tell down to a keystroke what you did with your time.” We all have that to some degree. I just want to work somewhere where this mentality isn’t quite so strong.
But you see, this has been a huge area of conflict, of struggle. I don’t like my job, so I am glad to not go in, but it’s my only job, so when I don’t go in, I am poor, which I don’t like.
I’ve set this up so magnificently!
But, there in the truck with Sam, I came to see that all of these seemingly cataclysmic and terrific difficulties, they are fun too. The conflict and the resolution, that’s ok too!
Here is the bottom line with my personal and interpersonal conflicts: I set the whole thing up. Sam set his deal up. So has Jerry. And so has Dad, and Mary and everyone else in my reality. We have set up these conundrums, these conflicts, with volunteers, with old loved ones, willing to lend us a hand through our trials.
On this more abstracted level, in the truck, I could understand that Jerry and I’s courtship, marriage and divorce, and our continued relationship, this was a huge gift, on so many levels, and he is a real cool cat for helping me out, and I am pretty neat to be assisting him. Of course I love him. I wouldn’t be involved with him otherwise.
I felt so much goodwill, so much love, and really, it’s only now that I think to mention there was an absence of shame. Shame was so far removed from the equation to be a fantasy. We were in that little car because we wanted to be. And we wanted to be there, with each other on that stormy night, because it is thrilling, and because we love each other.
Here is the thing with conflicts: If you have them, you are still spiritual. In fact, if you are having them, you are actively spiritual. First because it is just plain silly to think of oneself as anything BUT spiritual, but there is more. Let me explain.
I do believe there will come a time when we will all live together in love and harmony and goodwill. I really believe that. I think we function like that as a society in our dreaming time. But, what I saw in that truck was that what we experience while in bodies is the interpretation of our dreamtimes.
We all know ourselves to be who we really are, but there is this veil that is pulled down between these two very valid, nearly completely exclusive states, sleep and awake. And when we present ourselves to each other awake, we have no conscious memory of the other world, the other meanings. We awaken to amnesia and details, sleep to find we have remembered, and we are working out the big stuff while asleep, sweating the small stuff while awake.
But I got, very strongly, that the stuff that I have so off-handedly judged as stupid, dirty, ugly and slow, namely, physical life, well, that’s not quite right, now, is it? It’s fascinating and beautiful and so immediate here. That’s what’s really rocked me Christmas Eve.
The physical, I came to believe, is in-your-face, so intense and complex, and we have so little of our operating system on-line when we are in physicality, it’s just too easy to not appreciate how mind-blowingly crafted, with nothing but our hearts’ love, it all is. It’s easy to forget, or not appreciate, how Spirit has made it all from scratch. It is so complex, so achingly detailed, so lovingly crafted. Took my breath away.
And here we are, in our weird, juicy meat sacks, struggling against this amnesia getting blasted from us nightly.
I used to despair over this koan:
I know that if I approach others with my hands full of my own need, then they cannot easily give to me, and I am clumsier than usual finding and giving away the good stuff. But how do I fill this need?
I would think that before going to work, while in conversation with certain people, while doing something that I wish could make me happy.
If I have need, how can I give and receive?
This was a maddening koan. Maddening.
And often with koans, the solution lay in the wording of the question. If I have a need, how can I but not give and receive? They are two separate states of being, perhaps. And I confused them. Needing is one reality. Giving and receiving, well, they’re more like universal law. Two different things going on.
I thought that if I had any need at all, aimed at another, then I could not get or give love in a genuine way. If I really need it, I cannot have it.
This speaks, of course, to attachment and non-attachment. But it speaks to something else, too. It speaks to my role.
I saw myself as someone who must have no need. None. I suppose that is a remnant from the times when I tried to have others meet my needs and they could not, or chose not to. Who knows. But somewhere along the line, I decided that needing love from another, needing anything from another, is the opposite of my goal. I want to need nothing from no one.
And, indeed, truth be told, on one level, the truth is, I need nothing from no one. So maybe this was one of those insertive thoughts which served to wake me up on many levels at once,
But needing, wanting, love and affection from others, supportive words and generous deeds, this is something I feel such aversion toward. I do not want to need or want anything from anyone ever.
But, I am a human being, and I have a need for connection. I am beginning to see this as a need like food and water and air. The energies, and the realities of others, well, that is part of the package here. I know there are realities where this non-dependence is natural, and not considered weird at all. I know that this is one of the universal laws, that we are all self-sufficient, more than we know.
But, still, if I need you to be nice to me, and you are not, what happens then?
That’s another koan. They’re like nasty little seven year old twin sisters, giving each other the business every time the folks get busy tending to other things.
How can I give and receive anything if I have need? If I have a need that goes unmet, what then?
And, here, in the end, it comes down to one word, need.
What if the solution to the koan is this: There is no need.
Yes, that is about right. That’s what most of my koans have wound up looking like. Something that drives me to distraction, something with which I play and obsess and allow guide me, and then, there is work, and then, with the solution, I see that the koan never really even existed in the first place. That is how you know you’ve solved one.
Believing I have something within me that, if not satisfied, could destroy me, that is not wise. Kind of silly, really. And could that not be considered a definition of need?
So, what have I been considering a need? That is the real question. Take a look at that, take it out and put some legs under it and see just how far it can go. What is a need? What do I believe, in my heart of hearts, I truly need?
That’s where the gold is buried.
So, I see now that a change in schedule, and maybe even a change in work, is in order. Probably as a nurse, a day job, like I have talked about before. Or maybe at a record store, a bookstore, an auto shop. I don’t know. But a predictable schedule which will allow me to go to some classes, go to church regularly, have consistency with my daily life. That’s a good place to start. And not because I am needing to fix a mistake or a problem, right a wrong, any of that judgmental crap. Nope. Just because I want to make more friends, and I can’t make friends very easily with this schedule.
Thank you, Divine Neutrality. Glad to see you could make it. Here, settle in. I’ll get you some coffee in a minute.
So, I am beginning to concede that I need others, and I need conflict right now, because it is helping me. Further, as I am triggered less and less, perhaps I will have fewer and fewer conflicts (though I will not be holding my breath!), and maybe, just maybe, I can begin to give myself a break and start manifesting more with the tools of freedom and exhilaration and joy and ease!
I would prefer no conflict. Let me say that loud and clear. No conflict feels better than conflict.
However, when I am in conflict, I refuse to hide it from you or from myself in some attempt to pretend that I am already perfect.
I am human. Therefore, I have a different agenda than a light being. Light beings, angelic hosts, archangels, I appreciate all of their advice. It’s the only way to do this, checking out their crib notes. They talk a lot about unconditional love and forgiveness.
But can I just say, I think authenticity rates real high too. I have come to believe that it’s the judgments placed on these other feeling states that needs to be addressed.
If you and I come together in a feeling of love and mutual interest and admiration, and we discuss stuff, if one of us disagrees with the other, what do we do about that?
Is the mission here, now that we have evidently raised the vibration a bit, to be conflict free? Is the state of nirvana the one where, finally, no one gets in your shit?
I had a moment before waking this morning when I was walking down a hospital corridor. I understood that I was full, and I was beaming out an incredible amount of light from my body. I was just ramming it out, blasting it. And it was fun then. What isn’t fun is when I go into that environment not mindful, feeling empty, giving only of myself and not of the light that is pouring into me. And with that, I understood many things. I have been very mad at nursing for a really long time, because nursing has not been giving me what I need, or at least what I would prefer.
Have you ever considered a nurse’s job? There are very few kind words spoken to me once I put on that uniform. When I wear my uniform, I am saying, “No, really, I’m good. What can I get you?” And I am really OK with that set up, that’s a set up I actually do very well in, but somewhere along the line, I stopped giving myself other ways of getting the good stuff, smiles and compliments. I turned away from others. I became very lonely and afraid of others.
And, doing shifts couldn’t possibly give me what I refused to allow myself outside work. And then I slowly began to die on the vine. I have spent years withered, rattled by the elements, dry and unappealing and avoided. I didn’t feed myself, looked to a non-nourishing environment for sustenance, and, when nearly dead from starvation, it dawned on me that perhaps why I am starving is because I have stationed myself somewhere that does not serve food.
Does it make a whole lot of sense to hate the place I wandered into, plopped down, and refused to budge from? Pissed off because my needs were not seen, not recognized, not filled, when, really, I was not in the right place to get any one of my preferences filled, just my needs. I’ve been mad at my profession for not giving me something it was never designed to give me in the first place!
It really had nothing to do with nursing at all. It is a noble and enjoyable profession. Sure, it attracts a lot of obsessive-compulsive whack-jobs, but, really, I’m one of them, so it’s cool. It’s just time to find a different schedule, make some more friends, take some classes.
Is being conflicted about my work bad? Am I non-spiritual person because I hated something in my reality? No.
I used that emotion, all of it, all of it, and I stayed with it, and here I am, on the back end of it, it would appear.
I am not convinced that the point is to get along all the time. If we could be conflict free, authentically and lovingly, I doubt there would be many who would opt out. But we are not there yet. And denying the existence of dissonance does not, in fact, make the dissonance go away. It makes it worse.
I have always felt there is a heroism in staying with something long enough to get all its gifts. Or, maybe I am an extraordinarily slow learner. That’s quite possible.
So, here’s the kicker. Maybe it’s another koan forming, who knows.
What do you do when someone you value as much as yourself is in conflict with you? What happens when someone you love holds a belief that is in exact and true opposition to your world view? What if it is a world view that is central to your make up, one you know to be a key to great peace and self-actualization, something you see as being the preferred way to live.
What happens then, when you are in conflict with someone you’d rather see eye to eye on, but you just can’t bring yourself to do fold, and they really really need you to fold on this particular point. If you roll over and agree, there is peace. If you don’t roll over, there is not peace. Is it you who is the cause of the problem? Or is it the one who is demanding you see things as they do?
Well, here it is.
I am my own universe. I have had many past lives, and I have my own story. It’s retarded, but I can’t remember much about my story or my purpose right now, let alone someone else’s. But I do know that I have them, and they are awesome.
You are your own universe. You have had many past lives, and you have your own story. It’s dumb, but you can’t seem to remember much about your story or purpose right now, let alone anyone else’s. But you know you have them, and they are awesome.
How can I dislike or fear or hate you for having formed an independent opinion about something that I might not have considered as even something to think about?
I have people in my life who I love very very much, and some of them hold such weird beliefs, I really can’t even begin to understand how it is they function day to day. Some of those beliefs lead to calamity, chaos, interpersonal pain, financial ruin, crap jobs and shit relationships.
Do I abandon the person I have signed up to do stuff with simply because his beliefs are juxtaposed to mine?
Why not, instead, hold fascination for how it is possible for someone to live their whole lives believing as they do?
But now we get to the root of things.
Because, what it all comes down to is feelings.
If I do not agree with you, that does not necessarily carry any sort of charge with it. If my boss disagrees with me, that carries a charge, because I might get fired if it escalates. If I disagree with my ex-husband, well, tough titties, we have to get along! If I disagree with my best friend, so what? If I disagree vehemently enough with anyone, then there is much unhappiness. I’d rather keep the conflicts on low boil. But, each situation contains within it an impossibly boggling amount of ways I can interpret it.
By honestly owning the charge something holds for me, I can then begin to understand it and maybe even start putting it in context. If it matters a whole hell of a lot, on an emotional level, then it’s always worth exploring.
Because, really and truly, it’s the charge and not the charged event that is your golden ticket. Do you see now why conflict might not be so bad a thing? It creates dissonance. It creates chaos. Emotion knocks me off my pedestal and makes me examine my life, my thoughts, my beliefs.
I want to feel happy and free and giddy with universal love all the time.
Some people are unthinking. Others can be rude. Some don’t even know what I am thinking. Others care what I am thinking. No one is feeling this feeling I am feeling in this moment but me. Something triggered it out there, and now I am in here, maybe I am even reeling a little bit.
I have a choice on how to proceed. I can either hate the thing or person which sparked these feelings, began this journey into dissonance, and then do my best to get rid of or destroy or silence the noise, or I can see the dissonance as a built-in, personal warning system, there to tell me when I need to work on something, and then I roll up my sleeves and get to work.
I was more than willing to walk away from nursing, because I had such feelings of dissonance. Horrible, long years of dissonance. But now I am seeing that maybe destroying or silencing and hating the work is misguided, at best.
Yes, the hospital lacks the Mr. Magorium feel that I would prefer in a workplace, and I’ll bet there are other places where the agreement fields were not tilted quite so strongly toward shame and fear, but, let’s face it, it’s a context within which I have always made sense. I don’t want to be a nurse forever, but I think I can exit gracefully now.
I was willing, right before Christmas, to throw out my career and start over. Who knows, I may still. But it is so nice to have the option, to not feel like my hair is on fire over the whole thing anymore.
The Teachers told me, one time when I came in bitching about a job, to consider the following before switching situations. Is the unhappiness highly discrete? Can you sense when it is coming on, and can you feel it leave, and is this predictable, and consistently occurs in this one trouble spot? If so, change jobs, or apartments, or schools, or whatever is causing the discrete pain.
But, if the discomfort is more wide ranging, if there are many areas of my life that are feeling messed up, it’s probably not the job, or apartment, or school, or whatever.
And I have something to add to that.
Whenever I am feeling that dissonance, or a strong surge of discomfort or pain emotionally, then I know now that I have just been given a hand engraved invitation to bring another part of myself home.
In that truck, Christmas Eve, yet another one under our belts, I felt so abstracted, and so peacefully exhilarated.
We are not experiencing problems at all. Not at all! We are reaching out and helping each other with every conflict, every missed opportunity. We are lending our strength to our loved ones, the one who is sitting in her chair telling me how much she hates this and that and that over there. The one who is so convinced of her own incompetence that she is frozen in space. The one who is wounded and so afraid to cry that she is lashing out at anyone who is kind. The one who refuses to allow pain to enter her home. The one who has so much going on in his life that is perfect, but just completely ineffective with loved ones.
Have I just described others in my life, or have I been describing myself? Who among my loved ones does not have a hand in showing me themselves, how they are coping, how they are managing. Who is not also engaging in exposing me to myself, through their very own acts of self-discovery?
And I have been through the wringer so many times in this life, do you really think I give a tinker’s damn about these foibles? Do you think I can find no weirdness in my heart? Do you think I am incapable of a bad choice? Well, if you have been reading these blogs, you know I do very very well at making bad choices, thank you very much, and the last thing I need is someone to be up in my grill about them. And, at this point, I am so far removed from wanting to tell anyone how to think or feel, I just shrug my shoulders and let them go on their way.
If I have a great cosmic truth that I think might help you in your conflict, and I tell you my great cosmic truth, and you think it is really just the most harmful concept you have ever heard in your life, does this mean that I am bad? That you are slow? That we are broken?
Some things are just made to become worse for wear.
But imagine the utopia I’d be waking up to if this morning, all my friends and family saw each other as loving supports, there to help, to interact, maybe even to disagree with, but there none the less to help, maybe by virtue of the disagreements. Who knows? Remember, each of us is an amnesic universe.
Conflict. Want. Need. Obsession. Koans. Meaning.
There is more to it than just blindly loving the other. There is a lot more to it than blindly hating the other. When I feel resentment, slight, righteous indignation, I know it means I have been triggered. Someone in my weird circle has done me the honor of upsetting my calm.
So be it.
These are not calm times, but I have people in my life who are doing their best. They may not speak my silly esoteric ancient language, but they show up, they are here and present, whether massaging or poking at my buttons, until I have used my common sense, my need for completion, and my emotions, to explore something which made me feel off.
I don’t need to feel hate anymore for those and that which knocks me off my balance. It is in getting knocked off center that I then find my center again, each time more and more quickly, with more and more fun attached.
There was peace in my world Christmas Eve, arms draped over my son’s trunk, looking out into a grey, snowy night, quietly having a moment of splendor, seeing everyone who hits me and hurts me and knocks me off center as the friend, the courageous and monumentally magnificent friend they are to me, inviting me once again to check in, decide for myself what feels best, what is the cause and the resolution to this conflict.
I leave you by telling you that I have had some of the same conflicts in my life since birth. There are some places in this life of mine about which I wonder if I will ever feel good. And I really do wish for less and less pain. I think it is possible to manifest more gently, more peacefully, maybe even a bit more respectfully.
But I will keep having conflicts, right up until we all go crashing into some other reality. While I am in this skin, talking with this face, feeling with this heart, functioning within shifting belief structures, I will not always agree with you. You will not always agree with me. We are in separateness., there are opinions, there are conflicts, and that is ok. That is the way of it.
I’ll see conflict as a gift now, and I will unwrap it with my mindfulness. I will study it with gratitude, and I will feel special in a way, because challenging gifts are from the best gift-givers. Not painful gifts, challenging gifts. Those that require just a bit of something from me, that call a piece of me back home. And I, just like Jerry and Sam, in that little truck, I am here to give my support and friendship to these great beings showering me with gifts, as I am showering them with my gifts, some conflicting and mutually exclusive in nature.
I love my people enough to allow them to stand strong and proud in their own knowingness. Their own realizations are why they are here, that and to help others, so I am not about to take away their beliefs to make me comfortable, and I won’t demand they believe as I do. I love them too much to subject them to such willful pettiness.
I love my friends, my family. And when in conflict, all I really want is for peace to return, but sometimes things just don’t feel that great. Can we do much more than lend our support, lend our compassion and patience and tenderness to the situation at hand?
I am less interested in being right than I am in being in communion with others. I recognize that I can be extremely, outrageously wrong. Just embarrassingly wrong. It’s happened more than once. It may very well happen again. So, what is more important, a view which could very well turn out to be stupid, or a person, a whole universe, sitting next to me, having words about my view?
If each of us approached the other as grown-ups, capable and responsible for fully categorizing and assigning meaning to everything that enters their reality, wow, wouldn’t that be nifty? Then I wouldn’t trick myself into thinking I have a better belief structure than yours. You wouldn’t trick yourself into thinking I am doing my life wrong. We wouldn’t be standing in judgment of each other then, would we?
In that space, is it possible to have a conflict?