Saturday, June 27, 2009

When the need for peace and the need for drama collide

This piece of art is from a T-shirt I created to be hung on a clothesline in the lobby of our local theater in connection with our performance of Eve Ensler's play, The Vagina Monologues. I post it here this morning, not because it's great art, but rather because it represents a desired outcome, a longing for resolution for a difficult situation that arose earlier this week because of something I wrote in this blog.

And it's a struggle to stay present with the feelings that arise in me in response to the situation; to know the wounding -- on both sides -- and still to see the flower that could emerge out of this freshly tilled earth. For two days now I've been stuck on a page in Eckhart Tolle's New Earth that is entitled, "Do you want peace or drama?" Here's what he has to say:

"You want peace. There is no one who does not want peace. Yet there is something else in you that wants the drama, wants the conflict. You may not be able to feel it at this moment. You may have to wait for a situation or even just a thought that triggers a reaction in you: someone accusing you of this or that, not acknowledging you, encroaching on your territory, questioning the way you do things, an argument about money...

Can you then feel the enormous surge of force moving through you, the fear, perhaps being masked by anger or hostility? Can you hear your own voice becoming harsh or shrill, or louder and a few octaves lower? Can you be aware of your mind racing to defend its position, justify, attack, blame? In other words, can you awaken at that moment of unconsciousness? Can you feel that there is something in you that is at war, something that feels threatened and wants to survive at all cost, that needs the drama in order to assert its identity as the victorious character within that theatrical production? Can you feel there is something in you that would rather be right than at peace?"

When the ego is at war, says Tolle, you need to know that it is no more than an illusion that is fighting to survive. Step outside that surge of righteous indignation; try to see the other's point of view; try to remember that you two are one, and this flame is just the ego asserting itself again. There is more to us -- so much more -- than ego, but its red heat can mask the cooler, deeper, connected parts of us very effectively, and there are times when it's truly a challenge to cool the flames.

I felt stuck, reading this Tolle piece; tired of fighting to stay calm and centered, tired of patting all my anxious, shamed, and guilty voices on the back and reassuring them, tired of holding the leashes of the dogs of righteousness, all barking that I did nothing wrong... tired of trying to hold together all this fragmentation. So I decided to read something else, and, sifting through the pile of books that waits for me each morning, I decided to return to Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, and opened it to find this healing poem:

I am a city by the sea
sinking into a toxic tide.
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown
had poisoned my mother as she carried me.

It's here in all the pieces of my shame
that now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart --
oh let them take me now.

Into them I place these fragments, my life.
and you, God -- spend them however you want.

This poem was balm to my wounded soul, and all I can say is, "Amen."


Anonymous said...


I really needed this reminder this morning. I've heard the saying "would you rather be right or happy?" (Dr. Phil, perhaps? :OP ) But I MUCH prefer Tolle's "peace or drama" because that is a much easier choice for me to make for some reason...

Anonymous said...

BTW, Eve Ensler has several short video talks at Fascinating woman!

Anonymous said...

Another BTW....Of COURSE you are a bit outta whack, off kilter, stressed out, maxed out and off the charts! You are curating the UBUNTU exhibition!! Holy Moly! Tutu is my HERO!

altar ego said...

I'm sorry you're experiencing this hurt. Those words of Tolle sting, don't they? They are a fairly gentle truth, however, to which, if we all paid attention, might make our experiences of anger constructive rather than the destructive force they tend to be. I wish my husband could read them right now and learn from them as he wrestles with "feeling wronged and being right."

Blessings to you. I'm glad you found this Rilke and this it is balm for you. I think Rilke is amazing.

Diane Walker said...

Yes, I AM curating the exhibition, and yes, it has been both fun and challenging. Thank GOD the woman I am working with is an angel...

I agree that Peace and Drama are the real opposites here: they feel like larger broader truth, as opposed to right and happy which is a more-self-centered way of looking at it -- and also much less easy to assess. Right is not all that obvious, and what appears to make you happy in one minute can bring remorse the next; just too subjective. But we all know what drama feels like -- who hasn't been a drama queen at SOME point in her life? And I understand now that the surge of righteous indignation is usually a good sign the ego is kicking in. On the other hand, I don't believe in peace at any cost -- my daughter informed me (when she heard of this situation) that I was way too quick to back down, and that that doesn't give the other person a chance to see what they might be contributing to the situation. Oh, well. It is what it is, and at least I can see and halt my demons before they kick in -- it's just tiring, keeping them all in check.