happiness

LOVE has come for you.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

as you were.

Leanne's post on happiness really got a lot of us thinking and sharing. It seemed some people were coming at the subject from different perspectives, and perhaps thought they weren't on the same page. Disharmony on the happy train. As I read those comments, however, they didn't seem to be opposing opinions. Perception is everything. To me, there was a lot of agreement, at this center point of happy, but it was found by many from different starting points. Like a magnet, all those fragments drawn together.
Sometimes our interpretation of others is filtered through our prejudices or compartmentalizing or insecurities or life experiences in a way that we are unaware. There are people in my world who inspire a bit of fear and in whose presence my guard is up and on high alert. Anxiety ignitors. Of course I am the actual cause of those feelings, whatever it might be in my head that colors my view of such a person. What power I "give" those folks who have fueled my dart and avoidance tactics! And there are those people for whom I have great admiration, love, or envy. Awe inspirers. Neither sort is a proper summation of the heart and character of the beast/beauty. My understanding of you, my impression of you, my connection to you is completely within me, from my place here in this world, with all my 33 1/3 years of living (okay, so its a bit more than a third, more like 2/3, but I like to squeeze in t'irty-t'ree an' a t'ird where ever possible) between my eyes and your person. In this way, it seems life must always be some shade of gray, rather than black and white. Except that it is certain there is no certainty to the shade.
My hope is to accept with no judgement. Oh! It is challenging at times, since it is difficult to control you if I can't shove you into this perfect little box I've spent a lifetime preparing. Last Sunday I was tested in acceptance. I was physically displaying resistance--deep breathing and rubbing my brows, but mostly "just as she is" was good enough. She is part of a five-petal flower and so am I. She is my sister. She approaches every day with more years of life than I, and from a completely different attitude and launch point. We are attached to the same stem, but it looks different from her side of the flower, the shadows fall across us at different times and at the same time and change our colors. As far as I can see, she is always there in her spot, and our connection is consistent, and true, from any angle. Her version of happy is just as valid as mine.
What is your perception filter? What are your classifications of the people in your world? Why is it some folks can be accepted as is, while others are in need of change? Where is the line? Is it a chalk or paint line? Why do I want to change the way "people" do the dishes in my house? Is it the same kind of rules? Your kind of happy, your brand of tp, your level of intellect, your fitness routine, your you?

16 comments:

Elizabeth said...

darn .. I was going to head out to a movie, and now I want to ponder this instead .. it fits in with what I've been pondering and reading and sitting with lately.

Like Anais Nin said, "We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are." That is always true. Always. And yet it is so easy to forget that.

Our interpretations are always filtered, whether it be by prejudices, insecurities, ego, emotions, background, predisposition, .. which was sort of the point I was trying to make.

For example, if I have decided to like someone, I will filter everything through that "liking". They may have a habit of being late. I will either disregard it or not notice it or count it as endearing or accept it. If there is someone that I do not click so well with - they may have that same habit; I will likely not think so positively of the trait then, even though it is the exact same trait. Odd that.

Hmmm .. but why is it that I have decided to like them. Maybe I was in a great mood when I met them. Maybe something about them rings true to me. Maybe they have or do something that I aspire to. Maybe they come recommended by a common friend. Maybe conversation flowed easily.

Interestingly .. in the beginning of any relationship, I believe that we celebrate both similarities and differences. It is only later in the relationship that those differences can become "things in need of change".

What I am trying to remember is that that "box" was created by me, ostensibly to protect my ego. I was the one who decided what I liked and disliked. I am the one who is coloring encounters based on my filters. Another person is not really the cause of my anxiety - my mind's perception of that person is the cause. Everything really is all in our mind .. now if I could only learn to harness it for pure good, think what it could do. :)

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

now I have a favorite song in my head, "Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be .." :)

ethiopifinn said...

who sings that song?
i'm so glad you commented! i was thinking of deleting this post. yes! why do we like who we like!?

MindiJo said...

I had to read this post twice. The way you write is so interesting. Hmm.

Love the comment about each person's version of happy being valid.

I still have to ponder this post.

Sarah said...

wow- lots of interesting questions and topics!! your metaphor of petals and flowers when talking about families and sisters was lovely. I thought about this for a while. Sometimes we have a strong negative reaction for a good reason- if someone is narcissitic, disregards others’ feelings and opinions, is bigoted, etc. we should take note of that. But it’s hard to separate the character traits you might not like from the person. I had to deal with a person in my childhood who didn‘t care about my feelings and opinions. I know there are people out there who have a high opinion of this person, but if I see this in another person I distance myself quickly. I’m sure this has caused me to permaturely end some friendships, but I was also able to react in a situation where someone did want to hurt me. Maybe it helped hone some of my instincts?? I think we all play all sorts of roles every day. sometimes the good person/ bad person label can be relative. My take on this is seen throough my filter, of course. thank you for the post!!

Leanne said...

This was a lovely post, as always. You have such an intense writing style, and I love it so much.

It's given me a lot to think about. This morning in church, I was looking around me at all the people. I was trying to see them all as souls, not as bodies. It was an interesting challenge for me. Because our characters are as complex as you described. There are so many forces that change us and shape us, as previously mentioned.

I read a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell last year. It's very facinating, about our "gut instincts." Why sometimes we just know upon meeting someone whether or not we like them. Mind you, it's more of a clinical phsych book than a spiritual read, but it's definitely worth picking up.

Thank you for this post, Jenny. I am certain I'll have more comments as I process this thought.

*Not sure if it's just me, but I am in love with the deep discussion lately. Thanks for driving the deep thought train today!*

Laura Jean said...

I read this earlier today, and am still pondering...

Elizabeth said...

I've been thinking about why I like people .. if I think though all of this, the reason that I like someone initially is because we have something in common. But it has to be more than that .. because, though it may be hard, you can find commonalities with anyone. [Yes, I believe and have experienced that to be true.]

If I think about my later years, the reason I like people in many cases has to do in many cases with passion. They are passionate about something, and that passion draws me in and makes me like them (assuming they're not passionate about animal beating or something ..). Or they are caring, and their caring draws me in and makes me like them. Or they are intelligent and articulate and make me think ..

Hmmm .. maybe it really does come down to the fact that I like people who I aspire to be (or think I am) like in some way.

Elizabeth said...

oh - Jenny - I don't remember who sings that. I'll have to look up the lyrics.

Sarah said...

I think that is a nirvana song- come as you are.

Anonymous said...

OK, for what it's worth I will speak.
A friend of mine just said, "people are only comfortable in their own 'truth'" I thought about it for days.
We all have our own version of "truth" that makes us comfortable. Our comfort level. It is hard sometimes to break away from that.
In me, it causes anxiety. Especially when I feel like someone has disapointed me. I don't know what box to put them in.
(Like the previous posts, part of my own ego?)

In parting, I will print my logo....I want everyone to like me, I just don't want to like everyone. Ha ha.

Bette

ethiopifinn said...

bette, that is so true about our own truth!
leanne & mindi--my writing style...hmm. i like things thick and tight, like my jeans. Blink sounds interesting. i have all these intentions about reading, but i'm only on my 3rd or 4th book in the last 2.5 years. thankfully there is still time, and hopefully i will get a library card again soon :)
sarah-sound like you are really tuned in to your filters, thank you for sharing.
nan, where u at?

Laura Jean said...

Hmmm...

I will just comment on what attracts me to certain people. It is a sense of someone being genuine. But do I have a criteria of what I consider genuine? I don't know. One thing I know for certain, is I tend to NOT like people who are rude, or seem to be "fake".

Man, I'm still pondering this one. I take freguent breaks because my mind isn't use to such deep thinking! :D

Laura Jean said...

frequent, not freguent. :P

Anonymous said...

Jen
You are WAY too deep for me right now! my mind is on shut off mode. I tried to comment 2 times yesterday and just could not! Sorry! Nan