Thursday, January 28, 2010

When the haze clears...

"Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that your grievances have no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self."
-- Eckhart Tolle, Oneness With All Life

One of my chief worries about this blog is that it might get overly preachy at times, and that it might become an unfortunate example of "Those who can, do; those who can't, preach." So it was with some trepidation that I posted yesterday's quote about negativity.

After all, that's not really something any of us really wants to deal with: when sharing our problems, to be told it's our own fault. I mean, OUCH! And, of course, one friend did tell me that as soon as she saw that quote she skipped the blog for the day...

So of COURSE the universe had to come up with a perfect opportunity to practice what I was preaching -- you have to love the synchronicity of that.

So here's how it went:

Last week I had to swap two exhibits: I spent most of Friday taking down the black and white one at our local clinic, taking it to the nearby hospital; taking down the boat exhibit at the hospital, mounting the black and whites there, bringing the boats back, and mounting them here. But yesterday I got a note from someone at the clinic saying she had set aside one of my black and whites and wanted it for her office: would I be willing to sell it to her for a reduced price if she put the card with my name on it next to where it would hang?


It was a lovely opportunity for ALL kinds of negativity in me to emerge, and all sorts of things in me leaped up to do battle. My history with the person wasn't that great to begin with, but the setting aside, the bargaining, the extra trip that would be required if she didn't take it after all -- all guaranteed to get my juices flowing. But of course it was a lovely opportunity to practice what I preach.

So I sat down with a pencil and paper and asked myself all the questions posed by yesterday's quote: What in me WANTS to be angry, and WANTS to feel unfairly treated? What in me gets PLEASURE out of this fury? What do I think I will GET out of this reaction? And, while I was in the midst of all that, another friend suggested I ask, "What feeling is this reaction protecting me from?"

The answers to the first three weren't pretty, of course; it's NOT really pretty to walk in there and look at those parts of you that respond in situations like these. So I was particularly grateful for that last question, which allowed me to see -- and love -- the wounded soul beneath, the one that was hurt and frustrated and anxious and fearful.

In the end, after the angry haze cleared (which is why I chose this image, taken yesterday after the fog cleared) I was able to pen a perfectly reasonable response -- well, at least it seemed reasonable to me. I thanked her for solving the puzzle of the missing image, hoped she hadn't set it aside too long (thereby keeping it from other potential purchasers), told her that if she wished to purchase it she could leave a check for the full amount with the woman in charge of the exhibit, and if not to please leave the image with the woman so I could take it over to the hospital as soon as possible. It wasn't a warm response, but it was even-tempered.

As I meditated after writing the response, I felt an unexpected sense of power, that I'd been able to overcome that initial egoic lashing out. But, more surprisingly, I felt a sense of forgiveness welling up within me, not just for her actions, which I had initially found so distasteful, but also for our past history. It happened just as Tolle says: "With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges -- the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light."

So let me just say this: I know there are many things that happen in the world that are much harder to forgive than this one tiny incident. And there are things that have happened to ME that are much harder to forgive; that I still have trouble with. But I find it very heartening to see that it's possible -- if you stay with it, go into it, see what you're bringing to the problem-- to emerge back into the light. And perhaps if I can keep practicing this on a small scale, I'll be able to tackle some of the bigger stuff that still haunts me.


Maureen said...

Putting aside one of your pieces was not cool and then being cheeky enough to ask for a discount! Irritation fully understandable. Good that you noodled it awhile and then acted.

Every artist I know runs up against someone thinking himself entitled to or asking for a discount. I tell artists not to discount (even though I know some of them do). Work is worth what it's worth. And that goes to the heart of this irritation: being de-valued.

You are aware and awareness serves you well. And practice practice practice. . . it was clear from our e-course how important that is to achieve even the smallest change.

Unknown said...

So well done. The quality of your blog gives me something to aspire yo.

Kimberly Mason said...

Great job on standing up to the Discount Lady. Boooo to her!

And geez, Diane, I REALLY need you to either get outta my head or I need to get outta yours! I was listening to Tolle talk about these VERY things off and on throughout my day today. DANG how I love this sychronicitous connection.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Diane ... good job! I think it's hard for us to hold onto the value of our creative products. Easy to let one person devalue them and take on that devaluation personally. You held the line and refused to let that happen ... good for you.

Dianna Woolley said...

AMEN! Great post!