Seeing with the heart

my father in 1957

I recently came across this photograph of my father. He was about to turn 32 years old,….the same age as my sons are now (they are  30 and 33). He looks like a little boy to me…under that serious hat and coat. When I take a moment to imagine what his life must have been, to try to see him in a different light, I only feel love for him.

I had originally written another post about my father. One that had to do with a recent interaction with my sons. I emailed it to them first (since it had something to do with them as well), and while neither said not to post it, they were both glad when I didn’t. For so many years, the only talk that I ever heard, even out of my own mouth, were words of criticism for the way my father lived, the money he spent, the places that he went (instead of being home), his lack of communication …

I was taught to do this, as most of us were; to judge everything and everyone that comes into our lives. But I know that this is not a natural state, and it is a heavy burden to carry. I still catch myself doing it every day (but the good thing is, I catch myself!). The Dalai Lama once said, “I do not judge the Universe” (and I think that must mean the people, places and events that are a part of this universe as well).

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” Albert Einstein

21 thoughts on “Seeing with the heart”

  1. Another post that speaks to my life! How do you do this, Mary?! I was taught to judge, as well, and it is only recently that I have taken matters into my own hands and stopped myself as soon as I feel the judgement starting. And I must say, it is akin to laying the burden down. What sweet relief, if only momentary. Thank you for another life lesson.

  2. Thanks for this post, Mary. It is helpful today to have these words. Judgement is a burden, it’s true. I want to lighten up.

  3. How I love timing. My heart is smiling!!!.. I am on a similar quest (just much older and more delayed! ;)) and am amazing and loving myself daily…Amazing myself with how often I need to say WHOA..BACKUP.. RERUN please to myself. Loving myself that I care to do it! What fun it is to live in a brand new world everyday!

  4. Isn’t it interesting how our heart mellows when we try to see the other person through their eyes? I was 3 years old before I ever met my father. He was overseas in WW2 when I was born and when he came home he had no patience for an active 3 year old child. I feared and avoided him most of my growing up years. I was in high school before I realized he had a sense of humor and was actually a very kind man, yet he always seemed like such a stranger to me. He has been gone 25 years now and I wish I could tell him what a fine man I thought he was. It was many years before I could understand what it must have been like for him to come home to a wife and young child when he had been through 3 years of war.

  5. Not judging the Universe, How freeing. One less thing to do. And,( in a creative sense), what a great photo of your Dad, such a feeling of time and place.

  6. Great Post, Mary. I love the Einstein quote, and can so relate to your feelings about your father. My mother raised me to believe that all men, especially my father, were “the spoilers” of life. Raising a son, who like your own is in his early 30’s (33), and learning more about my father through my own adult experience of him, and from letters I discovered after his death (written by my mother when she was young and very much in love with him!)….all this has helped me to Let Go of my own resentments for my father, and to realize that my mother’s hostility was born of the pain they created for/with each other and their too intimate relationship with alcohol!!!

  7. I think that freeing ourselves from judging others is part of coming of age. We approach a stage in our lives when we have learned from the great teachers and, through our own experiences, there are choices to be made. One choice is to include self in joyous days. We still need to grow, to love others and to be forgiving but, also, value our own days by bringing light and laughter and love to ourselves. Each of us dreams a unique dream. I, personally, no longer have time to participate in groups or events that don’t bring comfort to me. One might say I have become selfish. I prefer to believe that I can do good and still live MY life to the glory of HIM.

  8. My father was born in 1923, Mary, two years before yours, and he too, by the time he was 31, had three daughters and a son, all under the age of six. Having two sons myself, one who is 33 and one who is 37, neither of whom is married,( though my older is in a very committed relationship with his girlfriend and the little 8 year old boy I spoke of yesterday) – well, I guess I am just feeling for my father the tremendous responsibilities he had, all the time suffering from serious bouts of depression that left him many times unable to function, eventually taking long periods off from work. We were shielded when young, as best as my mother could, from knowing why Daddy would go into silence, a scary sort of brooding, and sometimes angry. It is just with the perspective of the years, (one blessing as we grow older), that hopefully the lens of our insight is tinted with a greater compassion for the shoes another had to walk in. He has passed on now, and though I know he loved us, it saddens me to know what a insurmountable cloud hovered over him, swallowing him up into a vacuum where daily pleasures could not penetrate. Compassion – I just checked the root of this word – though obsolete, the “passion” part means suffering (as in the Passion of Christ) – and the prefix ‘com’, together, to suffer with, to empathize. Peace to all.

  9. From my experience, growing up in a climate of criticism of others breeds self criticism. I am on a journey of getting out from under the burden of thinking critical thoughts of others, and I am finding I have more energy and space to love myself.

  10. A wonderful post today Mary. Being judgemental of others is a terrible burden we lay on ourselves and one only has to turn on the tv to see it played out in any number of scenarios. It seems to have almost become a national pastime. So very freeing to let it go, like taking a deep breath after wearing your spanx all day! Live free ladies!

    1. Terri…I not only gave up being judgemental, I gave up Spanx, too! Feeling more free all the way around.

  11. Not that many years ago, reading this post would have put me in a swoon of dredging up a lifetime of old hurts, pains, memories and ancient histories of both my parents. Thankfully, an active practice of letting go (with wonderful daily reminders of yours, Mary!) allow me to send them blessings for doing the best they were capable of at the time. MY story will have a decidedly different ending!! How lucky I am to have the choice.

  12. Mary, I loved seeing you father with his hat. It reminds me of my wonderful dad who was born in Sweden in 1903, came to this country in the early 1920’s. He always wore a hat. When I was about 5 I was in the back seat of the car (of course no baby seats back then) and put my paperdolls on the brim of his hat. We went into the store together and the clerk said “sir, you have paperdolls on your hat” and my sweet father said “speak softly, their sleeping”. I loved him so very much and miss him every day. Have a great weekend my friends.

    1. Myrna! I feel as days go by, we are all getting to know the sweet small things that connect us to each other – oh my, today’s Mary’s father in his hat picture stayed with me all day, and now to read of your dear father honoring your paperdolls! on the brim of his hat, sweet gestures from his daughter!, please, do not disturb! I have also had second thoughts on my comments all day long which maybe reflected too much old sadness, as Cheryl B, reminded us, let it go, let it go. Myrna, I too have Swedish ancestry, and I love, love, love the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling who died way too young. I keep hearing in my head one of my most favorite songs, and here is a link for anyone that may like a lullaby tonight, “The Forest Sleeps” – composer: Hugo Alfven. Here are the lyrics:

      The forest sleeps. A ray of sunlight flickers in the firmament. Day stands guard through the June night. Her merry laughter has just fallen silent; Already she is asleep. I sat down, mute, by her side. Love stands guard over its treasure; Love stands guard through the June night.”

      Here is the incomparable, Jussi Bjorling:

  13. Woops! everyone, if you liked Jussi’s The Forest Sleeps, I didn’t realize I was giving you a much longer link – if you like it, enjoy, if not, sorry! I remember falling in love with the song, The Forest Sleeps, Jussi B. singing it, when I was just 25 years old, – I had no idea what the words meant, – isn’t that also the sweet power of beauty? Not having to know all the particulars? It simply is beautiful because it resonates in our heart. Good night all.

  14. For the Swedes among us:

    Skogen sover.
    Strimman på fästet flämtar matt.
    Dagen vakar i juninatt.
    Tystnat har nyss hennes muntra skratt,
    redan hon sover.
    Vid hennes sida jag stum mig statt.
    Kärleken vakar över sin skatt,
    kärleken vakar i juninatt.

    The forest sleeps.
    A ray of sunlight flickers in the firmament.
    Day stands guard through the June night.
    Her merry laughter has just fallen silent;
    Already she is asleep.
    I sat down, mute, by her side.
    Love stands guard over its treasure;
    Love stands guard through the June night.

  15. I too love the sense of an era this photo captures. Looks to be a restaurant/cafe. Was your dad an inspector? That’s what he looks like.

    Whew, what a load off that I don’t have to take on the whole universe to pass judgement on. And I really was doing a pretty good job of it actually. Glad I can lay that burden down.

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