“Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible. We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.” ~Seth Godin
Seth Godin wrote a post a few days ago called For the one person who didn’t get the joke. As is typical of his posts, this is a short, quick read that still makes a profound point. (Yes, that’s my encouragement to take a moment to go read it for yourself. It’s worth it!)
There will always be someone who does not appreciate each creative thing I may make. This is true of my writing, the jewelry I make, the things I crochet, the food I cook, the way I dress, my style in decorating. I can’t please everyone.
I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to people and relations appearances can be deceiving, words can be used to trick and to hide as much to expose, feelings can’t always be trusted, and that the “truth” in any given situation usually depends on who you ask. In short, there is seldom an absolute truth to any interaction between human beings, and even the truth that can be reliably nailed down in some way is likely to be interpreted differently by each participant and each viewer.
For many years, this made me hesitant to trust my own perceptions of situations I found myself in. I distrusted my feelings, questioned my motives, doubted my observations. Most of all, I ignored my intuition. At the slightest hint of contradiction to my own opinions, I accepted the “truth” of those around me above my own knowing.
I attended a worship sharing gathering at a Friend’s house this evening. Worship sharing are Quaker meetings where we sit in silence until someone is led to speak, and then members of the group respond to that sharing and others that may have been voiced. This is a unique form of discourse in that each person simply shares their thoughts on the topic at hand without the usual requisite agreeing or disagreeing with those that have spoken before. Although previous comments obvious spark thoughts in the people who later share, it is not a conversation or debate as many discussions are in today’s world; it is just a sharing of your own thoughts on the topic as you feel led to share.
Tonight’s topic wound up being simplicity, and the thoughts that people shared on the subject ranged far and wide, from the story of the rich young ruler in the Gospels to end of life issues to dealing with downsizing to how our pride is wrapped up in our possessions to the challenges of knowing how to apply Jesus’ words to our lives today. As always, this conversation gave me much to ponder.
“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet”
With a profound sense of gratitude to Rainer Maria Rilke and his description of things unsayable, I share in the poem below my own struggles with finding words to share the depth of my experience at times in my life when words simply can’t do justice to the truth. Continue reading →
“Truth is best served by recognizing a viewpoint as only a viewpoint, and refraining from taking that extra step of regarding it as true to the exclusion of all other views. In other words, all views—even correct views—are best held gently, rather than grasped firmly.” ~Andrew Olendzki
I was raised in a faith tradition that believed that there was one truth, one right viewpoint, and the goal of life seemed to be grasping that one true viewpoint as firmly as possible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to let go of that surety. Not only am I less sure that it is possible for me to know the absolute truth of anything, but I am also more convinced that clinging to a viewpoint with that kind of ferocity makes it less likely that those with other views will be able to get beyond my attitude enough to even hear my viewpoint clearly enough to consider it.
I really hate to say no to people when they want me to do things. This means that I either wind up doing things I really don’t want to do (in which case I tend to let my unhappiness show in horribly passive-aggressive ways that I invariably later regret) or I say an honest no only to wind up spending huge amounts of time in self-flagellation (of the psychological sort) for having had the audacity for being so selfish as to refuse to meet someone else’s request.
I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, and it’s a pattern that really doesn’t serve me very well. It’s not serving those around me very well either even when I do what they want. It’s one of the (many) patterns that I’m working on changing.
“There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.” ~Niels Bohr
I’ve been thinking a lot about this general idea ever since I wrote my recent post about meeting life’s greatest tests alone. I realized even as I was writing the post that my words were likely to misunderstood by those who may be attached to the opposite truth that none of us is an island. My discussion of embracing aloneness would sounds like blasphemy instead of an opposite (but equally true) truth.