I never noticed…

Ben jumped on my lap this morning as I sat here trying to write...a very sweet surprise!

Ben jumped on my lap this morning as I sat here trying to write…a very sweet surprise!

A few nights ago, Jack and I watched a documentary about a very talented artist and his journey from poverty to wealth and success. He was likeable, humble, and confident, but they also interviewed his wife, and she said something that really made me think.

At one point in this man’s career, he had a manager who took advantage of him financially by severely underpaying him and keeping a lot of his original artwork. When the artist and his wife found this out, they took action by firing the man, and sought help from someone they’d known in the business for years. The artist was immediately hired by his old contact and paid appropriately. In time, even the stolen artwork was returned. And yet, what struck me, was his wife’s perspective about what had happened. She basically said, that what she learned out of this was that you had to watch your back, be wary of people, not be too trusting or naive, and that she had lost faith in people.

My thought was, “Really?” What I saw was this: As soon as they realized they needed help, it was there. Yes, they were deceived (by one man) but they were also taken care of, and helped, by many more.

In one scenario, people are not to be trusted (especially when money is involved), life is precarious, uncertain and unkind. In another, people are trustworthy, helpful, generous, and life eventually restores to us what is rightfully ours. …even if it takes a little time, even when we don’t believe that it will, even when we make mistakes in judgement, even when we are careless or clueless, there is still a powerfully benevolent force moving us forward if we are even a little bit open to the Good (which they certainly were). They both seemed like nice people who were trying to live right.

We tell stories about our lives like they were the “truth”, and yet they are only one perspective. One perspective, often formed from a disappointment, trauma or tragedy.

For years the story in my family was that my father never followed through on promises and that he couldn’t be counted on. I thought that I had dropped this story but it surfaced again the other day. The incident that triggered it was trivial, but I found myself basically saying to Jack, “It’s hard for me to believe that you will do what you say you’re going to, because I grew up in a home where there was no follow-through”. Right after I said it I thought, “That has been my story for 50 years”. Growing up, the story in my home was, “You cannot trust your father”, so I didn’t trust him and I didn’t notice when he did trustworthy things.

The conscious mind acts like a filter. Its job is to present to us a consistent picture of reality, so it will filter out all information that doesn’t fit its conception of that reality. When we look at life primarily though thought and conscious mind, we do not see the big picture, even when the bigger picture is much better.

When I saw this old story the other day, it was followed by the thought, “It is time to tell a new story about what my father did right.” My father did break some promises but he kept so many more. It’s just that the ones he kept weren’t talked about. We always had a warm home. We always had food, clothing and even fun things to do. He mostly showed up. He followed through with most things, but since most of these things were not talked about they weren’t noticed.

As I sat there quietly, I thought, “From this moment forward, I am making the choice to notice the good, the trustworthy, and the best, not only in my father, but in all people,in all of life. I am ready for a new story.”

“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” pg. 177 from, Illusions, by Richard Bach

16 thoughts on “I never noticed…

  1. Oh my, another deeply layered post. Oh, those stories that we keep telling to ourselves and to others and finding justification after justification to retain and remember that old story. As you stated, time to create a new story based on other perspectives.

    • There was another quote from the Illusions book that I almost used and it was, “Perspective; use it, or lose it”….Thanks for your comment today Mary!

    • Thank you Donna. I very much appreciate hearing that. May your day be filled with new and happy stories!

  2. This brings to mind another quote: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not a truth.” Marcus Aurelius

    We all view things through our own eyes and experiences.

  3. I love the caterpillar butterfly visual. We so often crawl, belly to the ground, in our lower perspective when we humans have the ability to transform our minds and take a higher view, like the glorious winged butterfly. This is a post to be read again. I am sure we all have someone who with a little transformative thinking could be seen for many valuable and precious attributes.

    • Blessings to you Susan, thank you for your insights and beautiful perspectives, Mary

  4. It was almost 30 years before I ‘evolved’ enough to forgive my mother for ‘doing the best she could’. By that time, she was already gone. What a gift it would have been to put that story to rest while she was still alive.
    I am curious, Mary, if you’ve had the opportunity to share with your father the new perspective you’ve chosen.

    [The corollary of Lynne’s rescue of a caterpillar in yesterday’s post and your quote today has me turning over leaves and twigs hoping for a metamorphosis].

    • Thank you for sharing your journey Cheryl, and to answer your question, Yes, I have talked to my father…it has been wonderful to do (for me) and also uncomfortable at times. He is very hard on himself for living the way that he did (as an active alcoholic) while we were growing up. He still feels guilty, and so he has a hard time hearing me say that my perceptions about him were wrong (or only partial). But deep down, I believe that he appreciates my effort to see the good in him (even though he can’t see the good in himself).

  5. Boy, that’s a tough call, Mary, I still knee-jerk with reactions to things but at least now, I recognize them…but sadly, often after the fact. Lessons learned. And lessons to repeated it seems until I ‘get’ it (right). Trust is one hard issue once you’ve been hurt. It’s good post Mary and very insightful and honest.
    SandyP in Ontario, Canada.

    • Thank you Sandy…It’s hard for me too (right in the middle of an emotional hit) to have perspective.What I have come to know is that I trust myself, my intuition, my larger self to be OK no matter what. I now trust that inner voice which tells me when something is off, not to get involved with someone, or to go forward. I know that if I’m not following my inner guidance it will be very uncomfortable. Sometimes I go ahead anyway (and sometimes I do get hurt), but I always learn more about myself and all of the times that I haven’t followed my own heart have taught me volumes. Even when I’ve screwed up in a big way, I learned in a deeper way how to listen to the guidance that is always there. I trust myself … even though I still make mistakes, and I basically trust people too.

  6. Mary, this was a great post for me to ponder this w/e. I worked hard to forgive my parents years back. When we interred my Mother’s ashes I put a very personal note to her in the spot. I know this helped me to move on, deal with reality of past situations and to forgive. I have also visited my Father’s grave and told him things I needed to say to him.
    I strive to hold my thoughts many times and find the positive in a situation.
    Thanks for it all, Cindy

  7. Mary I am reading your posts backwards since i have been gone from the computer….man this one hit me like a humongous ton of bricks. I am parent-less now since last March…it has been such an up and down thought process on how i feel now without them…it has been work sorting out and owning the past…most of all I miss them…they were not perfect…but they tried…i know that now…the stories are diminishing and the love shines through…what i would give to make my dad a big batch of cookies…and my mom some dinner that she loved…love, love the quote!!!!!

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