“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.” Rumi
It was my birthday recently. I live a relatively simple life. I love to travel and have adventures in the natural world. I love art and I love to create!
After downsizing over the past four years from a country property in 2016, to a townhome, to the current condomium in Toronto in 2019, you might say I have released a lot of baggage both physical and metaphorical over the past four years.
What gift means the most to me? Adventure! A shared experience! Sincerity, a simple card, a home cooked meal, laughter and conversation over a cup of tea or coffee, the gift of baked goods or flowers. I do not appreciate “things”, unless of course, I have specifically asked for them. If you are a careful and thoughtful listener, you will pick up over the course of time “things” that are near and dear to a heart.
A dear friend and myself shared in some conversation and appetizers one evening just before her birthday earlier this month at her country home. Her birthday is several days before mine and I had discovered a travelling coat refurbished from vintage afghans by a talented local craftsperson. My friend was delighted by the gift and the card bestowed. The repurposed travelling coat had shown itself to me and was well received.
Travelling plans were abruptly changed when my beloved dog became ill and I found myself home for my birthday this year.
The day dawned sunny and bright with two beautiful birthday cards received in the mailbox the prior evening. I lit up in glee! One was from my brother, the other from my dear friend. The cards were opened in ceremony during my early morning sadhana practice. They were from the heart and found there way into mine. I glowed!
The day was spent on a magical forest walk which took up the better part of the afternoon. When I returned home from the walk, there was a bouquet of flowers from an American friend and a large wrapped floor plant of some kind from a mystery gifter.
The mystery gifter was the very same dear friend who had celebrated her birthday several days prior and had mailed the card. I called her to thank her and attempted to explain that although the gift was thoughtful, it was not appropriate. My space is so small and everything has a “place”. Everything has been culled and chosen specifically because “I believe it to be beautiful or useful” as Robert Morris so accurately writes. I am a minimalist and a recycler. My Instagram posts and blog reflect this. My friend did not hear me.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris
No sooner had I hung up the phone from my friend, exchanging parting pleasantries that somewhat covered up my frustration, that I exploded in rage. It was if I was a bull and someone had waved a bright red flag in front of my eyes.
I searched blindly for my cell phone and before I could breathe, take a calming breath and centre myself as is my practice, I pressed her number.
You do not need to have much of an imagination to hear the conversation. She took offence, telling me that I should be grateful for the gift, cover up my anger with appreciation and perhaps regift the plant.
My friend argued what my truth was! She was telling me how to respond and how to behave according to her rules of acceptable behaviour.
I was letting her know that her gift was not needed. My thoughts, what if she does this again next year’s birthday? What about Christmas? What about all of these unnecessary and unappreciated THINGS? Where do they go? More manufacturing, more, more, more!!! No! No! No!
I responded with my truth. There are so many “things” in the world. I adore plants but I have no room for any more plants in my home. My friend said that she thought I would appreciate a plant. She had seen my home once, a day or two after I moved in. My friend didn’t even know what my home looked like after I have been living here for close to a year. My friend did not pick out the plant, she called the florist. She then began saying that she realizes I am on a spiritual journey but this does not give me the right…
Whoa!! I hung up. I said goodbye and hung up. I was physically shaking. My rage was thus that I did not trust what I was going to say next. This was not the place nor the time to release anger and resentment of years of silence. People have always been telling me how I feel and how I should behave! No one knows how I feel but me! My journey is a healing journey! Yes it is spiritual, but first and foremost it is healing a lifetime of shame!
My son came over later that evening with another wonderful card, ShaMom he called me. I glowed even brighter than before the unfortunate conversation with my friend. Later that same evening, I found another card from my sister-in-law in the post box filled with love. ❤
What is the truth? The truth is how you/me/we see things. The truth is our unique perspective. I am learning to speak my truth and live my truth. With practice I shall be able to deliver it in the moment, with ease, for the most benevolent outcome for all, without anger and frustration. Truth takes practice when coming from a lifetime of shame and people pleasing. The “old” me would have put up and shut up. The old me would have feigned delight and regifted or worse, kept the unwanted gift. The old me would have swallowed the truth and kept it inside… to fester and rot from the inside out!
Truth is truth. Truth is love. Self love.
The truth will set you free!!!
To my dear friend, I love you. It is unfortunate the conversation that transpired over a simple birthday gift. I now can say I have more experience on how truth can be impactful when delivered with rage. It hurt me too. What I do to you, I do to myself.
Sat Nam ❤