Monday, February 11, 2008

regarding the world.

walking trail, down by the river
We do not receive wisdom,
we must discover it for ourselves
after a journey through the wilderness
which no one else can make for us,
which no one can spare us,
for our wisdom is the point of view
from which we come at last to regard the world.

Marcel Proust.

The street I live on is a small residential one with very little traffic on it because it's not a thoroughfare. One end has a cul de sac with a walkng path up a hill leading to the next neighbourhood street and a small field. Its a great street for road hockey, pick up basketball and kids to play in and around during the day. At night, it is lit by only two streetlights, far enough apart that isolation creeps in through the darkness. So does the silence, especially in winter when the snow envelopes the landscape with complete command.

What's interesting about snow is that despite the cold starkness of it, the brilliance of it's whiteness reflects more light and in turn takes away the feeling of isolation one normally feels when it's dark outside. Instead, there is a comfort in the cocooning feel of the snow all around you.

I took my dog for a short walk the other night after returning home from work. A strong sense of being present in the moment and a gladdening sense of contentment that I am where I should be touched me. This is where I belong. Not a soul, not a peep, nor any movement even in the trees distracted us. We had the street to ourselves as we headed for the path up to the field, Lily bounding after errant snowballs and me thinking about the revelations I had experienced. These revelations seemed like a gift of wisdom after a long forage in the wilderness. As Proust states, our accumulated wisdom is the way we view the world. Add to the wisdom, alter the view.

I learned years ago in one psychology course or another that our most fierce reactions to someone or to some event reflects the opposite of what we value the most. If honesty is the priority, chances are you will react very strongly to anyone who lies. There is less forgiveness, less tolerance, less respect. If the dishonesty lies within the person who upholds this value as a foundational belief, the inner turmoil and complete discomfort wreaks havoc until it can somehow be resolved. Sometimes we aren't even aware of why we are reacting with such heated anger. It's is such an impulsively felt response from an emotionally charged trigger point that it may be a while before you figure the whys and "what was that all about" questions.

I learned recently that I wasn't going to be offered the job I had applied for. It wasn't a surprise in itself because I am not fully bilingual and the job was designated as such. But, there were a couple of surprises which initially knocked the wind out of me and I automatically went to feeling a great big gulp of rejection. I felt like a discarded piece of used up kleenex. When the rejection button had been pushed, I wanted to run away from seemed like rejection has visited WAY too many times, and it kept me feeling very stuck and very sorry for myself. When I received the news, my reaction was no different. I was swamped by it and decided to leave my office and to go home to regroup. I kept thinking..............I need to regroup, clear my head, catch my breath, figure it out. I also thought that perhaps if I went home, I could react to the news and the feelings with some privacy.

Funny thing happened on the way home. All of a sudden I realized two things.

1. I am the only one wallowing in this river of rejection which I have allowed myself to slip into. It's not hurting anyone but me. And, since I don't like the feeling whatsoever, it's got to stop.


2. One of my prized values.....what I try to live up to and provide to others is a sense of belonging and acceptance. The nicest compliment someone could give me is to say how welcome and comfortable they feel in my home. My husband feels the same way. We've spoken about it many times and work hard (behind the scenes so to speak) to ensure that feeling is present in our home. Because I havent been feeling a sense of belonging....of feeling like I matter, I was reacting very strongly and emotionally to it.

Once these two epiphanies somehow found me, I could feel a shift in my focus. I could honestly feel a sense of becoming UNstuck. Funny how that happens............we whirl and swirl in an endless rumination trying and trying to seek some kind of understanding and then BING.....almost when you aren't expecting it, the idea/concept/knowledge finds you. I took hold of the driver's wheel again and began navigating differently.

Pip recently posted a very telling quote from Victor Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning) on his blog, which serendipitously captured my thinking about how it was time to take charge of understanding where the deep sense of rejection simmered and why...... It also provided another small shift.......I will call this one an ePIPany..........

"Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it"

I read it over a couple of Pip's personal application of forming a clear picture.....and another layer of bad rejection feelings slipped off me. I was able to look around me. My gaze became beautiful again.......or at least it was cuter.....not yet full blown beautiful. I tried to capture in words what I was regarding my world had altered somewhat. But, the words weren't there yet because I hadn't had a chance to think it through enough.

I happened upon them during my winter walk while I stood up on the hill at the end of my street, gazing at my sanctuary I thought. A warm glow sanctuary for my family and my friends. I then thought about my office where I meet with people who are dealing with big life issues and who most of the time feel comfortable enough to spill their stories openly, knowing they are in a place that they are welcome in. It doesn't take help someone feel that sense of mattering. And if I can do it for others.....................I need to be more attentive in providing this for myself. As much as it would be WONDERFUL to feel this around me and have it offered to me........? I'm a big girl. I can set my own thriving environment.

Quite a lot of ePIPanies in one dog walk on a winter night?

here's another............................

Today, I took another step toward letting go of the pent up feelings of rejection by trusting someone new I have met by sharing some of the "stuff" which has fed this feeling in me. I'm feeling hopeful, because I was heard.............I'm feeling hopeful that perhaps the whole process of applying for the job has offered me a chance to find someone who may be able to help me find a place where I can feel that sanctuary feeling again. Afterwards, I realized that if one doesn't trust others, one will always set the scene for rejection. If this is the big trigger button issue for me, I need to own it. I'm normally a very trusting person. Not being one lately has worn me out.

Gotta risk the trust thing to welcome acceptance..............

You know what else I realized today? I am never alone "regarding my world." Sometimes life lessons ....... the ones that test your mettle and drive you to sleepless nights ..... can lead you to a strengthening of feeling Divine presence. Those lessons are always transformative because they give you a gift of new wisdom to regard your world with a new set of eyes.......and in my case.... bright green ones!


Barbara said...

Dana, I am printing this one out to read over and over. I love what you teach me by sharing your life so openly. (and your writing is ALWAYS such a delight to read...and I don't use the word "delight" often - lol).

Awareness said...


Sharing this has helped me make my thoughts more tangible/real. Plus, I figure if what I'm learning personally along the way can be of benefit to someone else, even though Proust states that we all must go through that wild old wildnerness on our own, I want to share it.

thank you for letting me know. you've made my day!

Gypsy said...

I couldn't agree with Barbara more. I will read this again and again because I had a light bulb moment of my own while reading it. I have been having an internal struggle for such a long time about something I find almost impossible to accept. As you pointed out the only person who suffers is ourselves so I have to find out what it is that makes this emotion so difficult for me to deal with. Thankyou Dana, thankyou so much.

Awareness said...

Gypsy....a question we need to ask ourselves more often when we're struggling with discomfort like that is ..... "where am i?" It helps to trace the path of the trigger what it was that possibly stirred the unsettling feelings.

We do have a tendancy to react more intensely when a "value" we hold dear is violated.

I'm really glad to read you had a light bulb moment. I posted this to share in hopes that it would offer that to others too. No point in learning something ourselves and not sharing it, eh?? :)

Marja said...

I am impressed how you work through your emotions and give them a place. You will get there I am sure.

freebird said...

My sister always says to give her 3. Three days, three hours, or at least 3 minutes to deal with a change that has been thrust on her. I find it to be quite useful and true. With rejection, change, any thing that happens that is not our choice a time to adjust is very important. You took it by going home and also by taking your walk. Then our feelings can meld with our reason and we can become ready.

paris parfait said...

Proof positive that to risk change - in attitude, in place, in work, in surroundings - is to fully embrace life's possibilities, good and bad. Wonderful - and wise - writing, Dana! xo