Monday, June 11, 2012

Whose business?




A picture of good health.  Oy.  Phrenology: fact or fiction?

My latest inspiration to block squirrels from making their mad revolutions on the wheel in my head is a large plastic cone, such as would keep a dog from gnawing at some healing portion of its anatomy.  I'm not sure which direction it should point, for maximum effectiveness.  I have seen squirrels find their way to a bird feeder using, I swear, ropes and pulleys, springs and ladders.  I will have them nowhere near my head and will go to any lengths necessary.

One path to a quieter mind involves leaving mistaken beliefs or behaviors  in the string-tied shoebox on the curb.  For me, this requires letting go of the illusion that I have control over anything not specifically connected to me or my actions.  And even then, it is iffy terrain.  Life, that is Big L Life, has the upper hand always.  Plans?  Hah, it says.  I scoff at your plans.

What has become clear to me over decades of trial and error is that the business of someone else is not mine.  It never has been, it never will be.  I know the squirrels have gotten past the barrier when I start looking at your stuff and not at my own.  This realization snaps me across the wrist a dozen times a day, minimum.  It usually involves those closest to us, those with whom we share space, on whom we depend for support and assistance, those whose stuff it is so easy to observe and judge.

The phrase that revealed this character defect/human frailty to me referred to the situation as, "...allowing the dignity of choice" to the other party.  I am not proud to admit I was once a person who held such thoughts as, "If you loved me, you'd take out the trash NOW."  Even though it was never said out loud, it is not hard to understand one source of potholes on the road to long-term romance. 

I count this awakening, this knowledge, as one of my great gifts.  Boundaries are grey areas for any of us who come from lands where they were unknown, not modeled in a healthy way, continually ignored.  Learning where I stop and you begin is like becoming fluent in spoken and written Mandarin in six months.  One is impossible and the other seemed so.

I cannot abide scolding.  I become small and powerless and diminished in every way.  I am the imperfect, oh, so imperfect, child.  I also cannot bear having to explain myself.  The reasons are the reasons, the product of life as I experienced it.  No one can know what it was or is like in this skin.  I hear the Jets singing "Dear Officer Krupke."  I am not speaking of felonies nor misdemeanors, simply choices that don't mirror ideals of order, the dreaded Puritan Ethic, choices that hint at neglect or indifference or fatigue.

Once I realized how deeply, vehemently I loathe being scolded, I knew I could never again be one of those people without being aware I was the one who was wrong.   I administer an easy test when my eye wanders away from my teetering piles of imperfection to rest on yours.  I simply ask, is this my business?  Are these my socks/books/full wastebaskets/unreturned phone calls?  No.  Mine are here, where I can do something about them or not and thank you so much for not quizzing me about it.

10 comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

A reasonable approach although sometimes the world seems to conspire to force you to delve in to other people's business.

Rubye Jack said...

"Deep down inside there is good." And so I think it is with most people. I think maybe it takes maturity and those years of experience to let people go or be. It's only recently I've been able to let my son be and he's almost 40 years old.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Yes, this approach only applies to the optional minding of other business. We are at times dragooned into sorting out matters not of our creating, but that becomes a different story.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rubye - My son has been my ultimate test case, the source of my awakening, always a teacher in some fashion or another. Maturity and a more relaxed approach to life - surrendering a need to control, especially a need to be right (vastly over-rated). We have to unlearn making things harder for ourselves than they need to be. xo

toomuchaugust said...

oh: "learning when you stop and i begin" ...yep, it's not so easy. and yet the pain i bring to myself and others because i can't get it into my head fast enough (!)

thank you for this post.

sherry

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sherry - You're welcome. Much of what I write is what I need to remember. One thing for certain, we are not alone in the challenge...take a look around. xo

Angella Lister said...

so very true. a worthy lesson for me today. thank you.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - You're welcome. Each day it is almost as though I never knew this, have to start over. xo

Heidrun Khokhar said...

If only our lives had stared out being taught that it's this way:( It's a tough thing to undo inlayer years.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Heidrun - It is a long, slow process of unlearning and such freedom to be found when one is not supposed to be in charge of everything.