I was at a party at Christmas time and a man I was talking with asked me if I always remembered when someone was critical of me and rarely remembered compliments. Hmmm, how did he guess that? He’d had a good amount of wine and, as he was a consultant for businesses and well respected, I weighed the wine/wisdom thing and decided that I probably did need to reverse my choices to recall. But why he chose to say it to me bobbed around inside my head all evening. Was I that self deprecating in casual conversation? Could it be a question asked by him of every peep with which he mingled in social situations? That was likely. Just by some law of averages, it would likely be an appropriately thought provoking topic for most (especially women, I dare say).
Life rolled on and I actually took to heart my realization, provoked as it was, and allowed criticisms that stepped beyond constructive to slip unceremoniously through my outstretched fingers. Adios.
I dismissed complements as well. Until I paid attention to my own desire to praise others and the base of love from which it grew. If we point out to others the wonderful things they have, do and become, we improve the world. The “others” will endeavor to continue having, doing and becoming that which is wonderful. We can put ourselves in each others’ “places” and see through empathetic eyes.
I think about odd things a lot… I used to have extremely long hair. It was heavy. It kept me warm in the winter. When I look at horses with extremely long, thick manes, my first thought is about the weight carried on one side of the neck! I can empathetically imagine how the horse’s neck must change to hold itself in alignment while being constantly pulled to one side. I truly wonder if the horses with giant manes hurt from the forever downward pull.
I cut my hair really short last spring because the wind was whipping it into knots and slicing it across my face even when braided or banded. I was so hot underneath the hair that I just held it up above my head and cut across it… then had to get professional help. I now am growing back my personal “mane” and incorporating strands of my Majic, my sacred white horse’s tail into my strands.
I look at my hands now after dropping a stone onto one again tonight untarping hay and working lately in bitter cold without gloves (I lose dexterity…). My hands are really old. Crikey, they have worked so hard! I noticed how my Mum’s hands at 86 were younger looking than mine at 58… and I remember meeting a student’s husband many years ago whose hands were like porcelain and his nails manicured to perfection. It gave me the shivers. He also remarked about how he hated driving to work because he had to go past the east mesa (where I lived & now live again) where all the “trailer trash” lived… I lived in a mobile home then and live in one now. And back then he knew where and in what I lived. At that time, I entertained the notion of challenging him to arm wrestling or just grabbing him by the thumbs and twisting. Of course, I did neither.
Tonight, I rub arnica gel into my bruises and practice playing my guitar all the while recognizing that this guitar practice is increasing the dexterity of my hands. Big smile.
What goes on inside the heads of people who deliberately hurt others? I’m thinking about the hurt caused by words and attitudes (or even the lack of words) rather than physical assaults… I wonder if people full of pain think that by unloading pain onto others they can lighten their loads? The truth is, what they accomplish is the Karmic equivalent of paddle ball (remember those? I spent a lot of time putting arnica on my face…). I have shoved my foot into my mouth a couple of times recently, but they were innocent mistakes and I felt awful after I realized, each time, what I had said. Yet, I likely did cause some harm.
So I guess the big question is about intention. And the big answer is about what was intended. That road to hell thing…
Only the individual knows what was intended. I’ve seen enough passive-aggressive behavior in my adulthood to write a book. Animals, on the other hand, never get snarky, abusive or off-handed in their intentions. Animals are always real, always honest. We may not always like what we hear from an animal, but it will never be veiled in cruel or ulterior motives.
I settle in this Christmas night with my always honest dogs and listen to my noble horses banging their feed tubs around in the dark. They are clearly searching for scraps of hay they themselves shoved out of the feeders earlier… I have one gelding (Grits) whose feeder is always on its side when I bring the hay for breakfast and for supper. I stand by his pen with his hay and say, “turn it right” and he pushes it upright with his muzzle. He amazes and scares me a little (what else does he comprehend!). This is a good life. My intentions are always good. My outcomes may not always be, but I have never meant to hurt a single soul nor cause anyone discomfort.