Archive for the 'roles' Category

Thinking you remember

December 23, 2012

I wrote a post here some time ago in which I referred to computer programming in Basic, to “if … then …” structure, and as I wrote it, I could feel myself not really remembering the details, in terms of the programming, of what I was writing about.  I’m not sure it mattered in that post, the concept I think I got right.

But that experience gave me a window into what some people apparently do when they continue to act as sources of wisdom after they’ve lost the knack of discerning in a way that gives access to profound understanding.

This is easier to see within a belief system that includes reincarnation, although maybe after I explain it that way, I will be able to see how to translate it into a system that doesn’t.

Somebody attains in a particular lifetime the ability to see beyond dualism, to no longer see things in opposition to each other but to see unity, to harmonize seemingly conflicting strands organically merging and to see unity without intellectual rationalizing.  I think what I’m referring to is what Richard Rohr describes much better in his book The Naked Now.

But they are missing something in their spiritual development and are reborn to explore that.  (I don’t think everybody develops themselves in exactly the same sequence.)  They grow up and they have a vague sense they should be offering wise counsel and they have a vague sense of how to do that.  And they have a fleeting thought that even if they don’t do it exactly right, it won’t matter in terms of whether their audience notices.

I think they don’t want to do what it would take to regain the ability to see in unity (again).  It may be that what they are looking to explore in this lifetime of theirs is the humility to relearn alongside of people learning how to discern in stereo for the first time.

That learning requires, I think, a huge amount of openness, and coming to that state of openness can be quite painful.  I suspect that for some reason the person in question just really doesn’t want to go through that, perhaps because they have a vague sense of what it would entail from having done it before, and they don’t have the vague sense that that’s just the point — to go back and do it again.

I’ve struggled with the explanation that maybe they have a good reason for not going through the learning process again, for not becoming more open.  In the end I think I made no determination on whether they could have done it successfully, because it became clear that, regardless, they weren’t agreeable with trying.  So somebody else took their place, in terms developing this particular talent.  And the original person tried to continue to offer wise advice, although now, in this lifetime, they were doing it while relying on their imperfect recollection of how to discern it.  And they did not pursue the lesson they had come to learn.

If I try to explain this without reference to past lives, I guess I would say it’s someone faking it, maybe after reading a description of how it’s done but not actually going through the process described.

For my own part, I’ve come to see that my lesson may be to learn that people don’t have to follow through on what they set out to do, that I have to stop believing their self-reporting that they will, and that eventually some other way of serving the greater good needs to be used.  Eventually, the “This is so stupid” aspect of the situation comes to trump any concern about whether finding another way to resolve it is “fair;”  who cares about who spilled the milk?  We can clean up a spill, regardless of who or what contributed to its occurrence, if cleaning it up is the important thing.

I’ve also learned not to wait around for the other person to perceive the situation as I do.  Jewel may sing about not being “made useless with despair,” I’m more worried about being made useless by waiting for something to happen that won’t.

Which brings me back to the issue of belief, or not, in reincarnation.  Because some of these people take the attitude that I should wait, that they really will get to it [in this lifetime].  What I see is that maybe they will get to it, but it will be during another lifetime.  That explains their sincerity and my disbelief.


Life report, death report

April 3, 2012

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the publication of Charles Snelling’s Life Report by David Brooks and the NYTimes and then Snelling’s ending of his own and his wife’s lives.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I had a lot of misgivings about the Life Reports, at least the ones published, anyway.  Horatio Alger, I kept thinking, stories for our self-improvement along certain lines, like hearing from one’s parents about a particular child in another family held out as a model for imitation, or, at least, aspiration.  I am sure the particular templates the published reports offer are helpful for some people, but I felt frustrated reading them.  They didn’t help me learn who I am and what might come next for me in my life and how to move towards that.  I don’t think I am unique, but as Gita put it pointedly to me last week, I am an outlier.  I don’t want to hear what works for other people because most if not all of it doesn’t work for me.  That may be my lesson from the Life Reports, but I came to it with some amount of annoyance, if not anger and alienation.  (Which, of course, is to say nothing about their intention, which I take to be very good.)

Another misgiving I have had has to do with the traits screened in and out by an assignment like the Life Reports and the criteria for publication.  I worry that we got a lot of David Brooks clones planted in other scenarios, or at least the kind of people David Brooks admires.  We could, of course, do worse than hearing about such people.  I also worried that we got treated to the lives and perspectives of people with a lot of ego, and I don’t think that’s particularly helpful.  I think I felt at the time that the reports were organic outgrowths of the beliefs and values of David Brooks and of The New York Times, not a cross-section of insightful older people or a group of people who could point to a way of living life that would translate to other people’s reaching their own potentials.

Of course, that’s probably not what the intent of the Life Reports project was, it’s what I would have wanted to do with the idea.

But when I read that Charles Snelling had apparently killed his wife and then himself, I thought, “So here’s what an example held up to us does in his own life.”  Well, Snelling was consistent: he got attention.  From his wife, from David Brooks, fromThe New York Times.  He and his publishers helped each other promote their brands, in a way, both through the Life Report and the death report news article, however much controversy was involved.

I think there’s something very positive about the combination of reports prompting more conversation about health care, old age, and death.  I think if Snelling was held up as worthy of our attention, it’s good that we can see many facets of him and think about him from more than one (his) perspective, by reading about how he died.  I guess my question would be whether his Life Report would have been published had we known how the rest of his life would play out.  He was, in effect, a death panel for his wife.  He wasn’t a government or private insurance bureaucrat, or even a medical professional, and he had that affective relationship with his wife, but he went further with visiting his will on another person than many of us would be comfortable doing.

My own elderly dad is a caretaker for my elderly mom (and sometimes vice versa).  Does he take care of her the way I would?  No.  Is it my business?  I think up to a point but only up to a point.  I’ve always felt that it’s their marriage, it preceded my birth, and it’s not for me to interfere in it.  But I don’t see things as my dad does.  Which makes me wonder whether I would have seen things as Mr. Snelling did.

Finally, I step back and try to look at the whole picture.  I see patterns.  Multiple iterations of the theme help me see that each is by itself insignificant in the great scheme of things, just a particular turn of a kaleidoscope.  My pattern itself is of no great significance, either.  I share parts of patterns with others, our lives may even intersect, but I need to let go of a need to have the patterns play out in particular ways I think I would prefer.  I think Snelling’s life contained elements that are also contained in my own, but in mine they have played out differently.  I think the sum total of energy in our lives will have been the same, just channeled differently, into different actions, from which our respective lessons may be learned (or not).  I think the hardest thing for me is to be forced to view a similar pattern and let go of a need to make mine conform to it or it to mine.  That, to me, is a lesson from this drama.


The method’s the thing

March 11, 2012

I am trying to process what it means when a person gives me an explanation, for behavior, that I know isn’t, at least completely, accurate.  I don’t like trying to choose between seeing the explanation as a lie and going along with something I know doesn’t capture what I distinctly heard coming from the other person.

But it occurs to me that it’s probably not the content of the interaction that is important, at least for me, here.  It’s probably simply to see that the other person does not connect with what’s going on at the deeper levels of themselves.  If they did, I don’t think my personal situation with them would necessarily be resolved, but they would have a better technique themselves for navigating their lives.

So, I could tell this person that he was uncomfortable with me and asked me to go away, although he had, whether inadvertently or not, asked me to come in the first place.  These pieces I know.  I know I experience other people empathetically, that is, as an empath.  I know I hear them, and I know my role is passive, as a recipient and a mirror.

If I am called and I come and I am sent away and the person tells me that’s not what he thinks happened, I will say that that is actually the issue he wanted diagnosed, that he doesn’t hear himself.


November 29, 2011

I am trying to figuring out what lies behind the apparent fact that sometimes when we’ve experienced an emotional transaction with someone else we try our best to avoid doing it to others, and why sometimes, whether intentionally or not, we wind up repeating the transaction but with ourselves in the other role.

So, for example, I’ve received very unhelpful condolence notes myself and I make an extra effort not to do the same myself when it’s my turn to write.  On the other hand, I resented that my father refused to teach me how to drive (someone who was like a second mother to me taught me instead, including how to talk to other drivers), and I’ve taught neither of my children to drive (my dad did teach my older sister), although for very different reasons.

I suspect this has to do with how the life lesson needs to be taught, perhaps like the difference between reading about something in a textbook and doing a hands-on project.

So, I titled this “Oppression” because I am wondering how people who grow up feeling oppressed deal with that as adults, whether they try their best not to force others to conform, for example, or whether they visit oppression on others in some other form or guise.


Role play

November 18, 2011

I have had this sense for a long time of my allowing people to experience the other side of an emotional transaction in which they were previously involved with someone else by my taking the part of their previous emotional role.  So, if someone has been emotionally distant to a spouse, for instance, I might wind up playing that sort of role to them, if they have been cut off abruptly from a friendship, I might wind up being on the receiving end of their unexpected detachment from me, if I watched them mourn a loved one who died young, I might lose someone similarly while they observe my grief.  I suspect we all probably do this for each other during our lives, I just notice the pattern.  I can also see myself experiencing first one side of an emotional interaction, and then the other side with someone else in my previous role.  It isn’t clear to me, though, to what extent we can vary the way the second scene plays out, whether the first scene determines more than just that one emotional note that needs to be experienced from the other perspective; so, for example, if it’s about a friendship severed, and how that feels, I’m not sure whether in the second enactment the former friends get to do any better than their predecessors at figuring out what to do next.  I’d like to think so.

Different sides of the same issue

August 25, 2011

When a politician who has, for example, pursued prosecution of prostitution becomes involved personally in something similar, we sometimes see a disconnect or irony, but it seems to me that both behaviors can actually be seen as pointing in the same direction: grappling with the issue and experiencing it from many perspectives in the course of trying to come to terms with it.  So, too, with people preaching to others about their intimate lives whose own lives differ from the standards they espouse, or with firefighters who commit arson, or with other pairs of opposing behaviors that taken together are often seen as evidence of hypocrisy or irony.  It looks to me instead kind of like people taking turns with now the bare-chested team, now the team wearing the shirts, or like people dancing first the leading role and then the role of the dancer who follows the dancer who leads, in order to experience the transaction in all different ways and to experience the flip side of what they experienced earlier and to experience themselves what they put the other person through (what it was like to be the recipient of their earlier behavior).