(Published in the July 10th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)
I’m reading the most perfect book for the current events of my life at the moment. It always seems to happen that way.
Timely quote: “You take a giant step toward psychological maturity when you refuse to angrily defend yourself against unjust slander. For one thing, resistance disturbs your own peace of mind.”
Two weeks ago I wrote an opinion column about unkindness. The topic stemmed from the unkindness we are showing refugees and how certain businesses are profiting from their pain. (Nope, I don’t believe illegal immigrants or criminals deserve pain and I’m confident Jesus would agree with me.)
I segued into my personal life, as I tend to do in this column about my life, mentioning (but not naming) a business that sports a liberal-bashing sticker front and center on their door that has continually hurt my little snowflake feelings.
Timely quote: “It is a subtle form of idol worship to think that anyone does anything good or bad for us.”
I wondered why I was focused on fear instead of love, so I examined my reaction to their actions and saw myself in them. I saw the defensiveness I need to soften. I saw the fear and pettiness that I need to work on. I saw the anger I need to evolve into forgiveness. And I wrote about it.
Timely quote: “Unawakened people cannot live together harmoniously. They see and dislike weaknesses in others that unconsciously they have and dislike in themselves. This causes irritation, impatience, all sorts of grief.”
It’s a small town. The owners of the unnamed business and a few others read the piece, misunderstood my intentions and took it all as a personal insult.
When I heard that my words had caused someone pain, I humbled myself and apologized. I had no intention of hurting anyone. Ever. But I had. Again.
Timely quote: “Mystically speaking, there is no difference between you and another person. This is why we cannot hurt another without hurting ourselves, nor help another without helping ourselves.”
I received veiled threats, open revenge, a public shaming and many acts of pure loving kindness. It was an interesting couple of weeks.
Timely quote: “Never permit the behavior of other people to tell you how to feel.”
Please understand that I don’t feel at all as if I’m a victim; Yeah, I struggled a bit at first…I’m human, but now I’m in pure observation mode. Truthfully, it is a curious case. I identify as an outspoken progressive liberal living in Trump country. Here, I am surrounded by self-identified conservative Christians, but me being me, I won’t censor myself, stop writing what I know to be truth, or take full responsibility for anyone’s reactions. Partial yes, full no.
Timely quote: “Advancement to higher understanding is always preceded by a crisis of some kind. The greater the crisis the greater the opportunity for self-uplifting.”
Truly, I really want to see what happens next. Will someone vandalize my property? Will everyone boycott Angle Days? Will people ignore me and start treating my child and my partner cruelly? Will letters to the editor be written about my wicked ways and my drunken past?
I doubt it, but one never knows.
Will we all forgive and continue to treat each other neighborly?
I hope so, but one never knows.
Timely quote: “Let no pressuring person make you feel pressured. You have the power to remain perfectly calm in every difficult and unexpected event in life.”
I am learning so much about politics and religion and the impact they have on relationships. And I’m continually surprised that people who don’t like my opinions keep reading my opinion column. After nearly 100 hundred of them (this is column #96) some readers still don’t see that my column is about me, my growth, my search for peace. In column #1 I wrote, “I want to tell the world (or at least the readership of our nearest newspaper) about what I’m learning about life by living here, by raising a child here, by working side by side here with other salt of the earth folk.”
Timely quote: “The aim has always been to rise above the present self.”
My five-year old came up to me just now holding a canvas she had painted when she was three. “Mom, the artwork on this is stupendously bad,” she said in half disgust. “It’s just scribbles!” Squelching my smile at her use of her new favorite word, I explained to her in all seriousness that it was wonderful for how old she was when she painted it and that I love it. That seemed to appease her, but she still disappeared into her craft area and spread new paint onto the old canvas.
And so it is with my psyche.
Timely quote: A man must behave according to his level of psychic development. No one can possibly behave on a higher level of love than the level he actually occupies.”
I have grown and changed through the trials, through the loss of friendship, through the isolation and especially through being misunderstood. It has all been a gift in its own right. I am not a victim. Nothing has been done TO me; it has all been FOR me and I am grateful. The journey to even this small amount of peace has been HARD. But the gifts of enduring that pain have been tremendous. I am no saint and in 96 columns I have never claimed to be. I have done things that could bear a mark of shame for my entire life if I so let it. But I’ve learned that forgiveness of self is just as important as forgiveness of others. It is also on par with asking for forgiveness, which I have done plenty of over the years.
Timely quote: “Raise your own level of mental maturity then you automatically attract people on your new level and with them you can have happy relations.”
Someone I hurt asked me “where does it end?” And honestly, I don’t know that it does. I keep examining, learning, growing and becoming. Will I make mistakes along the way? Undoubtedly. As a writer who stands up for what I believe in, will I piss off more people? Most assuredly. As a spiritual seeker, will I learn and grow throughout? Damn straight.
Timely quote: “One of the most widely known of all esoteric truths is that inward rightness corrects a man’s exterior affairs. There is no sense trying to battle the exterior storm itself, for it is but an effect. When we are right within, things are right without. So there is but one place to remain and work – within our own system of conditionings, desires, impulses, imaginations.”
And so, to this beautiful place, the hardworking people, the cliques and the loners, the unawake, the injured, the misfits, the outcasts and anyone else who is simply striving to lead a good life, I ask for forgiveness yet again and I offer it as well so that I may be at peace.
To everyone who has ever misunderstood my intentions and me, I also offer the last timely quote: “You are loved far more than you think.”
(The book is by Vernon Howard and is titled “The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power.” Don’t judge it by the title…it’s from the same era as bellbottoms and look at the bad rap they get.)