So, I’ve been tossing THIS mediation around for a looooooooong time… Mainly because my ‘keepin’ it real’ theory kept changing.
What’s real? Or in the words of Pontius Pilate, what is truth?
Well, naturally, I always thought that shalimamma’s outlook was the real one. Of course, right? My outlook and way of thinking has been the measure with which all my perceptions have been compared… Until one day, it occurred to me that the world wasn’t shalimamma-centric. Oops.
It appears there are other people (lots of ‘em), and they all have a myriad of completely different experiences, perspectives, wisdom (or lack thereof), mental challenges, personalities, temperaments…. And all of us see through our own eyes. And what we see we believe to be true and right as far as our thinking….
Until we step outside our own brains and watch ourselves. Let me tell you, this is not easy to do (and requires that we are still sane, which sometimes I’m not even sure about THAT!)
Some time ago, I had a questionable relationship experience. For the first time in my life, I lost some friends unexpainably. At first I stomped and raged, and declared, ‘they MUST be wrong!’ In many ways they were, actually. But I only realized that when I stepped outside myself and saw that in many ways I was wrong (or lacking in prudence) myself. I literally trained myself to pretend I was floating above myself and observing my actions. Now, I try (emphasis on TRY) to do that whenever I’m about to write something online, or share a deep opinion… How might others perceive this? What are the motives in my heart? Are they driven by envy or competition or depression? Why do I ‘need’ to express what I am saying? Why am I acting this way?
This has opened my eyes (embarrassingly, sometimes) to how I look. As in, whoa, if I were the other person, I would think I am two years old. Other times, when I am able to harness my brain (and mouth), I think, boy am I ever glad I rethought about my reaction… And other times, I have felt at peace with expressing something on my heart, even if it was difficult for others to hear.
In other words, I started to think in terms of ‘what’s reality… to the other person?’ How can I be compassionate, even if their way of thinking is absolutely opposite of mine?
Now, this isn’t some sort of encouragement for relativism. (Different subject altogether). It’s about how we react to others, which I am, of course, still working on. ‘What I see’ is not necessarily what or how the other person sees, or even their language. This revelation has been shocking to me at times… To realize that what I saw as ‘reality’, sometimes that everything was doom and gloom, may have only been the lenses I was seeing through, and not the lenses of others who may be on cloud nine.
Many times I have also felt, perhaps with misguided compassion, that I needed to jump into the same ditch with those that are suffering, since I am deeply empathetic. I remember times when I was alone in my suffering, and I never want anyone else to feel that way… But largely, even among those closest to me, this hasn’t served either of us if the other party wasn’t asking for consolation from me. In fact, I have discovered a phenomenon where some people need to keep a rainbow and unicorn view (whether it’s what they really see, or whether it’s denial) in order to cope with their life. We all have coping mechanisms, and who am I to try to tear that down in order to prematurely show them ‘the reality’ of their situation, which is most of the time only MY perceived reality? What if letting down their guard and seeing a figurative concentration camp in their life causes them to despair? Who am I to shove my opinion into their gates?
What I have learned (as I overcame codependency several years ago) is to let them live in their world, even if they choose to suffer because of life choices and are not open to change or advice at this time… but to be there for them if and when they need me. This, I believe, is charity, as opposed to believing my way of seeing things is the absolute truth. Now, I say ‘my way of seeing things’… which leads me to a big disclaimer: This excludes absolute truths, which are not my opinion, but God’s. It is an act of mercy to ‘instruct the ignorant’ when it comes to grave moral acts, or lifestyle choices that threaten my family or my children… With those types of grave issues, I am not compelled to remain silent or in denial because of the lenses of absolute truth. Some people remain silent about absolutely everything, and that is their choice. But I do believe we truly are our ‘brother’s keeper’ when they are in danger, both in their physical life, and even in their spiritual well being.
Outside of grave issues, however, most of my outlook is even based on my ‘mood of the day.’ And I am starting to reach outside that natural mood when it is gloomy, and still say I’m doing well. Even when my hubby and I are at odds, when the kids have pushed me to my limits, when finances are strained, when relationships are challenging… I AM doing well. I CAN be joyful. Heck, others are doing this who have much greater challenges in life than I do… So why can’t I? Because the absolute truth is what is real. And the absolute truth is that no matter what happens on this earth, even if we are going through a tragic time, GOD IS GOOD. OUTSIDE of ME. INSIDE of me. He is All Good, and He has already been victorious, even if I’m swimming in a river of mud.
And that, my friends, is keepin’ it real.