Tangles or Tapestry?

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Other fears I’ve listed in a previous post:

  • Apathy (within myself) I guess I’m not really afraid of this.  It’s just something I’ve never experienced, and it’s something I tend to condemn.  Apathy implies a lack of concern where care should be given.  To recognize I don’t need to be interested in something or to discern I cannot make a productive response, is not apathy, and is often wisdom at work.  So while I hope I am never apathetic about something for which I should actively care, I am fully content to let go of what I cannot improve or to which I cannot productively and appropriately contribute.
  • Not knowing my purpose in something.  This is something I have experienced only during major transitions in my life.  I seek purpose, and I typically find it! I can identify two times in my life when I knew I needed to walk away from my life as I knew it then and walk into an undefined, undetermined future.  Of course the future is always truly unknown, but most of us establish plans before we end former commitments.  I am currently in my third transition.  I have yet to “discover” my “new” purpose.  This is extremely uncomfortable for me, however, I am discovering it’s not as unbearable as I thought it could be!
  • Vomiting.  This is an irrational fear that I have had since childhood and continues today.  As a young child I got the “stomach flu” frequently and often found myself vomiting into the toilet in the middle of the night.  I would wretch until there was nothing left to throw up; then my body would convulse with “dry heaves.”  I thought I could die, and I felt so helpless.  Sometimes Mom would hear me and come to my emotional rescue holding me until I quit convulsing.  As an adult I realize I won’t die, but I feel my historical terror none-the-less.
  • Failure to protect a child in my care.  I don’t believe this has ever happened, and I hope it never will.  To me, failure to protect a child in my care would be unforgivable.  I can’t imagine living with myself were I to fail in doing everything I possibly could to protect a child.
  • Not being prepared, if I’m the one in charge.  This is one of those fears of something I’ve never experienced, but it has been the drama of nightmares.  To me, “not being prepared” is on par with being naked when I should be clothed.
  • Poisonous creepy crawly creatures or flying things that sting (especially hornets).  I am somewhat allergic to bees so this fear is quite understandable.
  • Crashing in a car (because I’ve experienced this twice now, & I hope to never again!)  The moment before an actual crash is truly terrifying.

As I work through my list of fears I realize none of them are more than I can handle.  I suppose I could conjure up hypothetical situations that would be more terrible or terrifying than anything I’ve listed, but I tend to not concern myself with unlikely hypotheticals.

Facing my fears was an exercise I imposed upon myself.  It was mostly difficult, but I’m glad I did it.  Having done so, I believe the fear that still cripples me to some degree is that of Fear-of-Shame, fear of being misunderstood or unjustly condemned.  One constructive way I can address this is to write.  Much of what perpetuates shame is silence.  To write my story in my words with my voice helps me break that silence and dissolve the faux-shame.  Using my voice seems to be one of the most important avenues for my healing.  This is why I blog.  I mostly blog for myself.  But I am truly grateful for my readers.  To know someone has taken the time to read my writing, to “listen” to my thoughts, is amazing gift, and is a cherished thread in my tapestry of growing wholeness.  Thank you!

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Pacing My Perseverance

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Really? I must? My core’s philosophy is more of the “Follow Your Bliss” perspective.  But when I run into something I know I need to do in order to move forward with whatever is the next step in following my bliss, then I not only accept Eleanor’s wisdom but gratefully embrace it as a productive prod to persevere.

Tangentially, it’s a bit interesting to see what images people choose to accompany this quote in their memes. I’m sure these wise words have as many interpretations as there are people who quote them.  I chose this meme because 1) The woman’s posture is the shape I take in my dreams when I fly, so I resonate deeply and joyfully with this gesture, and 2) She’s really only a couple of feet off the ground!  This is no mountain she is climbing; there is nothing heroic going on here; she is simply moving herself into a space of interior freedom symbolized by a whimsical yet celebratory movement.  This is a do-able dare.  This is a manageable mandate.  This is where challenge meets bliss.

That’s pretty much what this whole blog is about: perseverance: Pushing through that which is most difficult so I can fly forward with a freer spirit.  However, sometimes this dogged devotion to breaking the bonds of what would shackle my soul feels more like a crippling compulsion or a pigish plowing ever deeper a rut that risks burying me.  So I take frequent and long breaks from this necessary but unwelcome task.

There are times, when writing, my mind just goes blank, and then flits to something completely unrelated. One might be tempted to think that I am easily distracted.  Actually, I am capable of extreme concentration, and too often engage in a chosen activity with metaphorical blinders on, screening out my surroundings and not even noting the passage of time.

But when I try to write about something difficult, my mind throws up all kinds of obstacles.  And when those distractions don’t work, it just “walks out,” vacates!  My mental landscape becomes something like a desert: all white sand with a cloudy sky and nearly no perceptible horizon.  I could have chosen a “white-out” blizzard as a metaphor except that I enjoy snow and cold and am not easily disoriented by it.  But heat and lack of water make me feel sleepy and unmotivated to move.  This is another thing my mind does when I don’t want to address a painful topic head-on: persistent play with words (developing metaphors, etc.) rather than using words to actually TELL something.

Ach du lieber!  And then there’s that too: clichés.

So, I just keep typing. I let my mind move through its avoidance maneuvers, until I exhaust them. Explore, express, explain, exhaust. Return to topic?

Today, doing what’s difficult means finishing my last post regarding strong emotions.  Some so strong, so painful, I once attempted suicide.

Do I still fear the strength of my emotional capacity today? Yes and no.  I am still capable of a rage that is truly fear-worthy.  But I’ve learned to recognize when I am nearing the edge of that storm.  (I think of how rage feels and moves within me as something like a tornado.  It can pop up seemingly suddenly, yet there are warning signs.  It turns very fast, powerfully, and could be destructive to things in its path, but it doesn’t have to “touch down”.  And most importantly, it really is a storm within me, but it is not me; I can walk away from it.)  While I can’t control my world so much as to guarantee I avoid all possible triggers to my rage, I can even-so sense the perimeters of triggers and walk away when too near.  Even if I temporarily engage, I can walk away.  Walking away is a very important skill!  Walking away is always an option, and one that is as powerful as rage, actually more powerful because in walking away I dismiss the rage.  I won’t go into here and now what triggers rage for me; the significant thing is that I’ve learned how and when to walk away.

Other emotions which I can feel so powerfully that I fear being overwhelmed by them are grief and fear itself.  However, grief represents territory with which I have become familiar enough I am comfortable navigating rather than feeling lost.  Feeling a foreign fear, or fear before I understand what has caused it, or panic, or pernicious anxiety, I have learned to treat that sensation like a ferocious dog.  I can be terrified by a growling, teeth-baring dog.  And while it’s reasonable to be afraid of a dog that could attack, and it’s justifiable to simply avoid such a threat, I have been in situations where a dangerous dog had to be faced in order to get away from it.  The main thing I learned was to not SHOW my fear, to not show that I am intimidated, to refuse to submit to its terror tactic, to pretend to be the one in charge!  So when I experience a feeling of panic flare up within myself (and usually its accompanied with a racing heart and a rush of adrenaline), I’ve learned to bring up within myself, the “Commander,” She who takes Charge.  Taking Charge is not my preferred way of being, but I’ve found it’s a very handy tool in my skill-box.

Where, when, and how I’ve “learned” these things I won’t explore here.  Some of these capacities are unconscious instincts I’ve “discovered” I already have at my ready use; others are skills I’ve consciously and deliberately chosen to learn and develop.

The last fear of strong emotions I’ll mention here is when I notice (usually retrospectively) that others are somehow led by or dependent upon my “power.” Sometimes my “power”, that which I am exuding and others are following, is emotional; in those times its usually expressed as enthusiasm.  Sometimes my “power” is intellectual: clarity of thinking.  Sometimes it is spiritual: wisdom, or moral courage.  I don’t mind being a leader when I have chosen that role and those being led have consciously consented to my leadership.  I don’t mind leading in areas where I have expertise.  But when I find that others are led by my emotions I feel wary.  I don’t like that kind of “persuasion” exercised on myself, so I don’t want to manipulate others.

However, some people really enjoy experiencing the emotions of an artist-type.  That’s when I find myself being put into the role of Muse for others gratification.  And I don’t like it.  To me, it might be something like when a patient projects onto their therapist, or a parent lives vicariously through a child, or a fan stalks a celebrity!  Those things are not equal to each other, but what they have in common is the observer loses touch with the parameters of reality in relation to the observed; the receiver (or taker) of gratification assumes as their own something that actually belongs to another.  If I were a true performer, I would probably like being used as a Muse by others.  I think Performers know how to and enjoy developing a Public-Persona, and can keep their private-person shielded from the public experiences.  I however am mostly “just me.”  I struggle with the idea and use of shields.  I prefer to be fully integrated and to act consciously, directly, deliberately; it’s something I work toward every day.  It’s true I know how to take on various roles in different situations, but I don’t wear them as a mask; I use them as tools or skill-sets.

As a victim of abuse I quickly learned how to compartmentalize my experiences, my world, my self.  But as a survivor and one who would thrive, I work to become fully  integrated.  Facing my fears, especially fears about my own nature, helps me heal, become stronger and healthier, and I hope eventually whole.

 

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“Where Night meets Day” by Loyan Mani (aka Maxine Noel)

To Live Or Give Up?

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This post talks a bit about my emotional struggle at a time in my life when I considered suicide. If you are depressed or could be in any way adversely triggered by this topic, please don’t read further and instead talk with someone who will give you life-affirming support.  Remember, there’s always a listening ear at:

1-800-273-8255

(National Suicide Hotline)

or 911.

Fear of my powerful emotions & whether or not I have the capacity to control them.

After I began to be sexually (and psychologically) abused, I began to have intense emotions that were so powerful I found it hard to control them.  That’s one of the reasons I eventually attempted suicide.  That feeling of “just wanting to die” was a desire to be free from the hell I was in: not only contextually, but also in my own mind, heart, Self.  I’m pretty sure I was born with the capacity for an extensive range of emotions and depth of feeling them, being aware of them. And I’m even more sure I experienced intense feelings before I was ever abused.  It might be fair to say that I was (genetically and socially) predisposed to being vulnerable to emotional turbulence and especially at risk to others’ provocation or manipulation of my vulnerabilities.

I was an easy target for bullies, predators, pedophiles.  I can identify characteristics in my family dynamics that contributed to all of this.  I can also identify (nearly? or outright?) institutionalized dysfunction in societal elements that definitely cultivated all types of bullies, predators, pedophiles, while offering nearly no protection for their targets. However that’s not the primary topic for this post.

My focus here is on what I have personally experienced within myself, and how I manage my emotions now.  I mentioned a suicide attempt.  There were actually several times I thought seriously of how I might end my life and made partial attempts, but there was only one time I made a serious attempt.  Again, more on that some other time.  But it’s important that I talk a bit about that here because, for me, it reveals how STRONG was the battle within myself.  It wasn’t “simply” a spiritual battle.

There are some, I would say naive, Christians who think turbulent emotions or any kind of psychological struggle happens and can be resolved strictly in the arena of the soul.  They don’t recognize the physical, psychological, medical, and/or societal factors and causes involved.  Thus, they don’t recognize the legitimacy and necessity of addressing those factors accordingly.

My view regarding the role of my faith at the time is that my soul, my spirit, my faith in Christ was SO STRONG that it kept my will to live dominant within myself! But the abuse, and my silence about it, was unbearable.  I think the stress of the dichotomy (my abused self vs my healthy self) was so profound that, had I not been fundamentally mentally healthy and spiritually strong, I might have developed a split personality or something like that. [I really can’t say that in clinical terms because I don’t know what causes split or multiple personality syndromes.]  But this is my way of saying there was a war (a life vs death battle) going on for my mind, my psyche, my Self between all that would keep me a Victim versus my capacity to be a Survivor.

I have to continue this in a next post.  Thinking again about that time in my life and the details of it is really exhausting.

To be continued…!

I’d Rather Be Heard Than Seen

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Fear of the spotlight.

Is this really a fear of mine?  The spotlight is actually something I’ve come to loathe.  So why did I go into performance?!?  Because I wanted to work on the best repertoire with the best teachers!  And I LOVE to play the piano.  I enjoy sharing music with others.  I just don’t like to be watched!

When others are physically near me, I like our activities to be either cooperative or parallel.  I don’t like the action of “spectator.”  I don’t want to be a spectator, and I don’t want to be the object of a spectator.  I don’t like watching or being watched.  Even when I view something like a movie or TV show, I am engaged.  I am thinking and responding.  (I often write my thoughts in response to what I’m seeing.)  Plus, the recorded medium allows me to do so without the actual persons being stared at.  In Mass, I don’t watch the liturgy; I am part of it.  Even when I gaze at the Eucharist, I am not a spectator; I am communing with Jesus.

I feel deeply and intensely that the sacredness of my Person is being cheapened in the eyes of a spectator; I am being  objectified.  Even if that objectification is in “positive” terms (admiration, awe, delight in my artistry), I don’t like how it feels, because I know fully that I am not an object; I am a Person, a Sacred Being.

So how do I cope with being watched when I perform?  Mostly, I have learned how to exercise a psychological “bubble.”  When on stage, there’s enough distance between the piano and the audience, it’s possible to focus my mind so entirely on my music that the rest of the world becomes a sort of perimeter, and I don’t allow my mind to wander to the edge.  I know it’s there, and I accept it as my context, but I don’t engage with it beyond being aware that I am throwing my heart and music out to it.  I simply hope some souls will graciously catch my gift, but I give it regardless.

I imagine “natural performers” are eager to receive their audience’s energy and not only enjoy interacting with it while performing, but actually thrive on it.  Clearly, I’m not a “natural performer”!  Recently, nearly all of my live music-making hasn’t technically been performance because it was the liturgical music for Mass.  When I play in Mass, I am actively worshiping.  I also lead or facilitate others in their worship.  Given that where I’ve served in Mass the instruments have been either in the back or in a loft, or partially hidden behind a pew, I wasn’t watched, except by the cantors or choir who were joining with me in making the music.

I’m certainly not saying performance is bad!  As a teacher I help my students learn how to manage the performance scenario.  I’m just acknowledging that, even though my career has often put me in the spotlight, it’s not a place I prefer.  I am happiest when I can interact with an individual or a small group of people, with everyone involved, engaged, contributing as well as receiving.

 

Teachers are students too!

Even though this isn’t quite on topic for this blog, I’d like to write about an experience I recently had with a piano student.  I had prepared a set of exercises I categorized as “Mental Warm-Ups” for a specific student to prepare her for a quiz on related material.  I had designed the questions to lead her mind along lines that would help her organize her thinking for the quiz.  I knew this student’s approach to problem-solving was often more creative than straight-line logic. But I also wanted to expedite the time given to this activity in the lesson that day.  So I set up the questions as “puzzles.”  The first set presented several sequences; she was to complete each series.  The second was a collection of whimsical mnemonic devices; she was to match each saying with the info-set to which they referred.

What I neglected to take into account was 1) this was an unexpected activity, and she perceived it as a pop-quiz, even though I had said it wouldn’t be graded, and she didn’t even have to finish it; I just wanted to see what was familiar to her; and 2) I hadn’t assessed her emotional state before I introduced the activity.  It turned out she had had an extremely exhausting day, out in the sun, had suffered an injury that while minor was painful enough she had taken some Tylenol – yet it was wearing off, and because she had made great progress with her repertoire she was disappointed to start with theory.

I had given her the activity to do during her brother’s lesson.  Before I knew it, she was in tears.  She hadn’t been able to finish the activity before her lesson.  She exclaimed in tears “but I’m not ready!”  Oh, my heart broke!  This is a girl who is so generally conscientious and responsible yet seemingly “laid-back”, generous towards others, usually cheerful, and typically very prepared.  I apologized heartily for having surprised her with the activity, reminded her it need not be finished, would not be graded, and in fact we could simply set it aside for another day.  She replied (through her tears) “I feel like I should know all this, but I don’t!” I assured her “Well, I think too you really do know all this, but maybe you just don’t know it today while you feel tired or stressed.  That’s really okay; we can come back to this some other day!”  I looked at her mom who quickly explained the exhausting day her daughter had already experienced before arriving, and assured me I should not take her tears personally!

I didn’t even look at her theory paper.  I set it aside and we focused on selecting repertoire for her recital.  She quickly recovered her composure and we had a productive lesson.  She was so restored, at the end of her lesson I dared to ask her if she would feel comfortable taking the theory test (for which the “Mental Warm-ups” were meant to prepare her), but do so orally, rather than on paper.  (I knew it would go much faster that way.)  She brightened up at that idea, so we talked through the test, and although she initially gave the en-harmonic name for two tones, and I prompted her to correct them, she clearly thoroughly understood all the objectives of the test.  Upon finishing, I said “You aced it!” She apologized “I feel like I didn’t really do it all on my own.” “Well, even with those two prompts, I’d say you did at least 99.9% on your own; I’d call that an A!” She laughed and seemed satisfied with her achievement.

Because she did so well with the test, I asked her if she minded if I looked at her theory paper or to leave it for next week, or I could even throw it away without ever looking at it.  She said we could look at it and seemed completely content to do so.  It turned out she had answered all the “puzzles” except for one!  Wow.  I was really surprised, given how distressed she was previously.  Everything she had answered was correct.  She simply had not been able to figure out one of the whimsical sayings.  Even though it was a matching activity and the correct answer was left by default, she felt thrown by the fact that she didn’t positively know it for herself.

I’m pretty sure the tearful crisis really was “just” the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” However, I believe it was important for me to see (and reckon with the fact) that my student deeply valued finishing her work, and how important it is to her to feel prepared.  I sometimes tell my students “I not only want you to know what you know; I want you to know that you know what you know!” Meaning: my goal for my students is to work to the point where they not only can play their music well, but to play it confidently and with self-established/affirmed poise.  However, I don’t always work through their theory activities with the same thoroughness.  I was terribly remiss in not recognizing my most conscientious students would apply all their learning to all their endeavors!  I need to help empower them to do that successfully.

My student was smiling and laughing, and even thanking me for a good lesson by the time she left.  I heartily thanked her for making that possible!  I am so blessed to have such kind teachers in the guise of my students!

 

Judging Judgement

Fear of being judged.  This is a fear I am out-growing.  In fact, I’ve almost completely out-grown it, but I still remember the pain of some early experiences of being (what felt to me) condemned, and the anxiety of pending critiques by others.

One of my earliest memories of being “judged” was when, in first grade, my teacher made “an example” of me.  I know I excelled in math.  I was doing multiplication and division by the age of four.  I don’t think I was aware at the time of my advanced skills.  I just enjoyed math activities, and I greatly enjoyed my dad teaching me!  However, there came a day when I neglected to sufficiently read the instructions at the top of a test paper.  The test comprised only subtraction problems.  Each problem was presented with a larger number over a smaller number with a line below, but there was no plus or minus sign beside the second number.  The instruction to do subtraction was indicated only in words at the top of the paper.

I sped through the test, adding each pair of numbers.  I even took time to check my work.  I knew my addition was correct.  I was the first to turn in my paper.  I was expecting an A+ per usual.  When everyone had finished, the teacher called everyone’s attention, held up my paper, and said something like “I’d like you all to learn from a mistake by [she said my name].  The instructions were to subtract, but she added each pair of numbers.  Her addition was correct; however she failed the test because she did not follow the instructions!”  As she held up the paper, everyone saw a huge black “F”.

I was horrified.  I felt such burning shame.  I was shocked I hadn’t done what was instructed.  And I was appalled to receive an “F”!  But I was even more dumb-struck that the teacher was humiliating me in front of everyone.  I wanted to hide, but there was no-where to go.

I don’t remember if I told my mother about it when I got home.  I probably did.  I think she looked at all my school papers.  She probably “consoled” me with some unspoken sign of sympathy, yet reinforcing the teacher’s lesson that it’s important to follow instructions.  I certainly learned the lesson to read instructions, but I’m too much of a non-conformist to pretend I always follow them.  But I also learned another lesson, one I believe is even more important: teachers should never, ever humiliate a student!  Shame is cruel.  And as a teacher, I follow THAT instruction faithfully and consistently!

In fact, the #1 rule I set for myself is to ALWAYS show respect to each student, and if they make any kind of mistake (which all learners do because that’s part of exploration), first find the good in what they’ve done.  I believe in first empowering what is good in a child’s native ability, and reinforcing the goodness of every particle of excellence.  More often than not, what needs correcting can be done in terms of showing how what they did well could be furthered.

A simple example of first focusing on what works regards fingering: if a piano student stumbles through a passage, and I perceive it’s because of faulty or sloppy fingering, I don’t immediately point out what they did wrong and how it marred their fluency.  Instead, I point out passages they played correctly and beautifully/ fluently/ meaningfully, and then I show them how their good fingering facilitated that.  Then I ask them what they think they might improve.  Most of the time, students will know well enough for themselves without being told what could be better and how to make improvements.  If they need a little nudge, I gently help them notice.  Often simply modeling better alternatives is sufficient.  Even if a student were to play a piece composed in a minor key entirely in the relative major, I still wouldn’t make them feel shame for not reading the key signature!  I might even note how interesting it was to hear it in a new key!  We could have a chuckle at how marvelous it can be to hear something from another angle!  But then, that’s the luxury of being an artist: multiple viewpoints are valuable.

Even (especially?) as a teacher, I sometimes discern a mistake need not be corrected at all.  I am aware that often the guidance a student needs from me in a particular situation is simply how to think, how to focus forward, what to actually DO (rather than what to avoid).  I find that, for myself, and I believe for most creative types, what we focus on in our thinking is what will be made manifest in our art.  If I were to instruct a student to not do a particular thing and they kept thinking “don’t do x,” they would likely DO x, despite the “don’t” in the instruction.  But if I were to say “focus on y,” they would focus on y and they would DO y.  I.e. the object of focus is the issue, not the instruction about it.  So, in my opinion (and vast teaching experience!), it’s far more important to direct growing minds towards good habits, strengths, goals, choices, rather than call (especially any unnecessary) attention to mistakes, weaknesses, or what to avoid.

Focus forward!

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Understanding My Fears

The Nut Gatherers (Credit: “The Nut Gatherers” by Bouguereau)

My “fear of not being understood” is really a fear of being misunderstood.  Surprisingly there’s a big difference! I have a longing to be “understood” but what I actually fear is being positively misunderstood.  And the worst is when someone thinks they understand me or “have [me] all figured out” and in reality they have jumped to conclusions, assigned a label for me and a box in which they can contain me or cast me away.  Possibly everyone does this to some extent in our genuine attempts to become acquainted; we look for what we know, and what we don’t, we explain to ourselves in terms of what’s familiar.

I very consciously and actively try to let my understanding of others be a blank book in which they write the chapters they choose to share with me.  Not only do I hope to let them be the authors of my knowledge of them, I assume they are sharing only part of their story.  It’s wrong for me to draw too many conclusions.  I can’t claim to do this perfectly or 100% because I am human and as it’s a natural or instinctive way for humans to learn by comparison of what’s new to what’s familiar, I realize I am going a bit against the grain of what’s a natural way of functioning. However, I find it is much more fun and interesting to let people reveal themselves to me rather than to make assumptions and then try to force their round gifts of self into any square holes of stereotype I might have on hand.

So when I try to count the people who have done this for me, persons who have allowed me to reveal myself to them and I think have really understood me as well as anyone not in your own skin could possibly do, I find the list is shockingly small.  In fact, I find I recognize gradients of being known.  Which is really what one would expect; only God knows us through and through, totally, without buffer or distortion.

“For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

~ Psalm 139: 13-14a

When I consider how this “being understood” manifests itself to me in these relationships, I realize that they actually have acknowledged they don’t know me entirely, they are open to getting better acquainted with me, they recognize and honor that I am the author of my story or the expert of my personal experience, they value me for who I am, and (it tends to be true that) they love me as unconditionally as any human can.  Given that I define this group of people in my life with such rarely fulfilled criteria, it’s no wonder my list of Those Who Understand Me is so small!

Considering all that, I recognize the relationships I have with each of those people are wondrous gift.  Being “known” like that is extremely rare in this world.  The other thing I realize is that as I mature, I find I don’t need an abundance of such benevolent intimacy.  I am content to be mostly unknown with most people.  The thing I have to work on is two-fold: First, don’t assume others should understand me.  I am (as my dad sometimes said) “not your average bear”!  Truth is, none of us are!  But maybe some of us are less “average” than others?  I don’t know.  I choose to view each person as terra nova.  At any rate, it’s up to me to reveal whatever I want understood by others.  And another truth is: very often being “understood” is not a prerequisite to being accepted!  I know many people who accept me even though they know they don’t understand me.  That too is great gift!

So my fear of being misunderstood is now a recognition that it is my responsibility to communicate what I choose, to correct when necessary, and to accept that most people don’t really care how accurate they are in their perceptions of others, and that’s actually mostly okay.  Society gets along pretty well without everyone understanding everyone else.  I think the human family needs more empathy than it does actual understanding.  In fact, it’s more often willingness to be empathetic that opens the door to understanding, than it is the other way around.

It’s so lovely how analyzing my fears dissolves their power!

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

~ Lau Tzu

There are so many great quotes and scriptures (and by the way, all of Psalm 139 is a lovely and encouraging passage) about the wonder of being known but one of my favorite songs about this is “On A Clear Day” by Alan Jay Lerner:

On a clear day,

Rise and look around you,

And you’ll see who you are,

On a clear day,

How it will astound you,

That the glow of your being,

Outshines every star,

You’ll feel part of,

E’vry mountain, sea and shore,

And you can hear,

From far and near,

A world you never heard before,

And on a clear day,

On that clear day,

You can see forever

And ever more.