Last night I boarded a big hunk of metal with wings, flew through the sky, was picked up in a brand-spanking-new luxury car and driven to a place where I was greeted with pure love and delight. The kind of love that only puppies and young children know about. And there were four of them (three children, one puppy).
My nephews and niece were all in bed when I arrived, but wide awake, waiting for me to get there.
I flopped on the bed of one who looked the most awake. He threw his body on top of mine in a bear hug. His brother threw himself on top and they told me about their day at school. One pushed down a girl, because another boy told him to, and if he didn’t, well then he would be the target of that boy. The other (his twin brother) had been sent to the principal’s office for writing a mean note to someone. Also, because someone told him to do it.
I listened to them tell about their day (shushing their parents when they wanted to interrupt, admonish, correct their behavior).
It was hands down the best moment of my day. The gift of being an aunty is that their shenanigans hold no triggers for me. I can be the space of presence and curiosity. I knew they could feel it, ‘cause they wanted to tell me everything. And they did. Matter of fact. Without shame or defensiveness.
Their father, however, is currently in a different place with his emotional freedom. On the drive from the airport, my brother and I talked about our upbringing, his unhappiness, our familial discomfort with big emotions — our collective stoicism.
At first we talked about it as something that was wrong — something that needed to be fixed. In the middle of the night, I wondered how much of it was to do with our DNA. My dad is into genealogy and DNA testing. My Norwegian and German genes predispose me to stoicism, I think. Perhaps this runs deeper than our parents’ parenting style.
And, perhaps this is something to embrace, a quality that can work in support of my (our) highest good, rather than be eradicated or fixed.
My brother talked about his discomfort with confrontation. Even confronting uncomfortable things in himself. Rather, he shuts down. Goes away.
I am remembering now: this is what brought me to mindfulness practice. When I meet myself with radical compassionate acceptance, I can look at things that might otherwise be hard to look at. The confrontation is removed when there is nothing wrong. Nothing to fix. Nothing to change. For me, this approach was even better than therapy (and I really liked my therapist).
It’s also the sweet spot of unconditional happiness. No conditions need to be met for this moment to be acceptable. For me to be acceptable. In fact, even finding acceptance in lack of acceptance is also perfectly acceptable, if that is what’s so for you in this moment.
Now, we’re having some fun!
Transformation is only sustainable when we meet ourselves with unconditional love and kindness.
Not lecturing, cajoling, trying to fix or make ourselves into good people. Forgetting that we already are good people. We are filled with goodness.
My brother’s having a hard time right now. He’s forgotten that he’s filled with goodness and his attention is fully on his failings. And when that happens, yeah, life sucks.
Cut back to his twin boys, curled up in bed telling me in the most matter–of-fact way about the events of their day. Not failings. Growth opportunities. Met with kindness, listening, curiosity, and the assumption of goodness.
I had no solutions, or helpful advice, just the gift of listening without judgment and it was a moment of pure bliss. And it was enough.
Here in the Southwest the desert flowers are blooming and it’s green. So much green, I keep thinking in awe. So much abundance. A feeling of abundance that arises even though my outside circumstances have not changed much in the past week. I think it’s to do with my current relationship to unconditional well-being. An opening has been created. I am receiving this short diversion in the desert with wonder and gratitude for the abundance that brought me to this moment, that shows itself to me everywhere I look, when I am looking.
Yes, thank you.