Tag Archive | judgement

The journey of life…

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Eleanor resting

Several days ago as I was walking on a very rural road, I heard a door open…there were no houses around. As I continued along, I began to see red-tailed hawks, which I’ve always associated with my paternal grandmother, Maude. I returned home and noticed a male cardinal sitting in a tree near the entrance to our driveway, and the words, “Hi Dad” came out of my mouth. I’d never associated cardinals with my father before, and I hadn’t heard from him in months, so the words surprised me. Later that evening I found out that my father had passed away…probably while I was on my walk. After I made the necessary phone calls to family and went to bed, a deep feeling of relief and freedom came over me. I felt like I was flying and I could feel my father laughing and flying too. This feeling has stayed with me.

My father was 91 years old and for the past 6 months, he had cut off communication with everyone except his wife and her family, and since they didn’t communicate with us either, I felt somewhat in the dark. Around Christmas time, I finally made peace with the idea that I would not see him or talk with him again. This took a lot of focus on my part. My mind would keep saying things like, “How dare he keep me away after I’ve been so good to him!” or “Why doesn’t he want to see me? Did I do something wrong?” But I kept bringing myself back to the thought, “Even if I don’t understand this, at some level, it has to be right.”

After he died, I could see how his letting go of me last summer was really a blessing. It helped me to let go of my ideas about how things “should” be, and to not judge either him or myself for the way he chose to live and to die.

Over these past few days, I’ve felt closer to my father than ever before. All barriers to love are dissolved and what I sense now, when I think about him, is laughter, light, and a spirit of fun.

I realize that my experience of my father’s death is not everyone’s. Many people do feel deep grief, loss, sadness, or despair. But my experience is a valid one too, and one that many people feel uncomfortable expressing. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have had a parent die and say that they feel guilty because they don’t feel bad.

That is the reason for my writing today. I truly do not need or want condolences. There is a Divine order to this life, this universe, that is beyond my conscious mind’s ability to understand. My father’s life here on earth, and his life now in the unseen realm, is a part of the mystery of being, and I am so happy that I was, and am, a part of that. As odd as it may have looked to others, as “dysfunctional” and disturbing as it could have been described, life as Bob Muncil’s daughter was a wild trip. Bon voyage, Dad!

Some of us think holding on makes us strong: but sometimes it is letting go.”            Hermann Hess

Where are you going this weekend?

Fred patiently waiting to lick Luke's dish

Fred patiently waiting for any left-overs

The other day, I was talking with a family member who was going on about how unfairly excluded his wife had been from his family. He said the last straw was when she wrote a letter to the one family member, who had originally been welcoming to her, but this woman had also, in the end, snubbed her. He and his wife were genuinely confused and angry by what they saw as such unfriendly and “exclusive” behaviour on the part of his entire family. He said, “I know we haven’t been the best people, but we aren’t the worst either.”

And yet, seeing from a more detached perspective, it is clear that they both are only experiencing (in the apparent behaviour of “others”) an outpicturing of their own minds. What they see on the outside is truly what they feel about themselves,… and how they behave toward others. They are afraid of getting snubbed, so they don’t attend family functions, even when invited, and blame others for their isolation. They never believe that anyone truly loves or likes them since they really don’t like themselves. Both feel a lot of guilt (even though this is well-hidden) for years of heavy drinking and all of the “unseemly” behaviour and lack of clear judgement that went along with that lifestyle.

They have been harshly judged, but nothing can compare to the judgement they have lived with in their own minds….but they aren’t able or willing to see this yet, so they push it out and it comes back multiplied, in the behaviour of others. They think they need to protect themselves from any more insults and hurts, and in response, their world gets smaller, tighter, and actually more painful, since they are shutting themselves up with their own clouded, critical minds.

I don’t know why is seems so much easier to blame others than to look at ourselves. Blaming anyone (including ourselves) is hell. Treating the world like a huge, friendly, kind, mirror, designed to show us where we are contracting (by believing a victim’s story) or expanding into a larger, happier, more joy-filled life, is an exciting way to live….and it can save years of therapy, misery, pain, and loss of relationship.

What I think is being done to me, I am doing to myself. What I think about others, I am really thinking about myself. Once I accepted this Truth, life opened up to me in what seemed like miraculous ways.

I still trip up, still find myself blaming people for what I am feeling, at times still feel like an innocent victim, still listen to the very unhappy, rejected, angry, stories that my mind tosses up to me, wondering if I’ll grab onto one and run with it. Just yesterday, I called a friend but he didn’t return my call and my mind started to say, “I’m not sure he is that great a friend. I am always available when he wants to talk but when I need help…..” I stopped myself, sat down, and said out loud, “This is an unhappy story. Do you really want to entertain it Mary?” This question made me smile. I said to my mind, “You are a pain in the ass sometimes! Do you know that?”…and it laughed.

My friend called back an hour later.

The weekend is here again. What would it be like if you refused to believe any unhappy story for just 72 hrs? What if you just noticed your mind trying to get you to believe some tale of woe, and you refused to join it? What if you held fast to your image of heaven, and refused to traipse into hell, just because you were invited?

“Man surrounds himself with the true image of himself. Every spirit builds itself a house and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven. Know then that the world exists for you. …What we are, that only can we see.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

a more complete picture

Fred appreciating the "flip side" of the blanket

A friend and I were talking the other day, as we drove to The Women’s Exchange, in Williamstown MA (another great thrift store), and she was just casually talking about a trip that she had taken with her daughters; showing them the place where she met their father, the places where they had first gone as a couple…nice stories for her children to hear. What really struck me as remarkable though, was the fact that she is no longer married to her children’s father…they have been divorced for some time now, and even though there were plenty of reasons for not-so-good stories to come out, she chose to also share with them the good, to give them a more complete picture.

I was deeply impressed by this. What a gift for those girls to hear good things about their father.  It made me wonder how balanced a view my own sons received from me about their father? It also made me question why I felt reluctant to do something like this now. It’s too late for me to take my sons on a ride like that, but I can do it on paper, and in my mind. I had planned on doing this as a writing exercise the day after our trip, but haven’t yet. I generally don’t write about things, here on the blog, in “theory”, but just hearing her story, and making the effort to think in this new way, changed me and made me open up to something that I didn’t even know was closed off. I am looking forward to getting out a notebook and writing down all of the good, happy, powerful and positive experiences that I had with my ex-husband, my children’s father.

Our judgments judge us, and nothing reveals us, exposes our weaknesses, more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows.” Paul Valery

a minor bird

beautiful pink sky and moon this morning!

I went to the Apple store in Albany yesterday to have my iPhone checked because I seem to be missing calls. It took me 15 minutes, of driving around the mall, to find the right entrance to this gigantic complex. Jack and Luke waited in the car. I walked into the mall and very loud music was blasting throughout. I felt myself tighten and thought, “I hate these big, impersonal places”. Neither Jack or I have liked malls. We expect not to feel good there and are never disappointed in our expectation. But yesterday, the words to a poem, that a friend had just send me, suddenly came to mind and I stopped.

How does this attitude of judgement serve me? How does it serve others? The implication is that I am “right”, by thinking that malls are loud, and that everyone who likes them, and the music that they play, is wrong. Small petty thoughts never attract large expansive experiences. How did I forget this?!

I started saying, as I resumed my walk to the store, “Thank you for this wonderful place. I am very grateful for all of the people here.” I wasn’t noticing the music anymore and was in the store a few minutes later.  A very nice man greeted me, told me that they’d call me when someone was available to help, and  5 minutes later I was walking out feeling wonderful. The mall had not changed.

A MINOR BIRD  by Robert Frost

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

the worm’s-eye view!

A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend. She mentioned a mutual friend and casually said, “She is moving into a new place and going to get her cats de-clawed.” I could feel the emotion rise up in me. I asked my friend why and she said, “Oh, I’m not sure and don’t want to get into it” …end of conversation. I knew, for that moment, that  I had to drop it or I would ruin the lunch. On the drive home, I kept thinking about this and felt angry and judgemental. I wondered if I should talk to her or send her some information on the harm of de-clawing. As I drove along, wondering what I should do,  I realized that the car in front of me had suddenly stopped.  I almost smashed into them. I took it as a sign to mind my own business.

I never used to be able to do this. In the past, when I got an idea, or felt very strongly about something, I had to act on it immediately. But it is the energy of the interaction that is important. If I am angry and judgemental then no matter how valid my point is, or how hard I am trying to conceal my negative feelings behind a thin veneer of “acceptance”, I am most likely not going to be heard. There is a wonderful “suggestion” in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that basically says when we are upset (about anything), our number one priority is to calm the internal disturbance before we take any action at all.

When I am in turmoil and inner chaos, I am seeing with the “worm’s-eye view”. Calming down, going within, asking for help from the larger more expansive part of me, praying, all help to give me a clearer, higher view of what action (or not) will really help in the long run and not just make me feel temporarily better by getting the issue off my chest.

This friend called the other day and talked about her move and how she had considered getting one of her cats de-clawed but decided against it. Sometimes I need to get involved…sometimes I don’t.