Monday, April 13, 2015

the half of things

"When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves,
then we can truly love and understand another person."

- Thich Nhat Hanh from his work How to Love

It's been a cold winter in Pennsylvania this year.  Last Easter Sunday there were big blooms of fuscia pink on the magnolia tree that created an inconspicuous space for our Easter eggs- not so this year. Punxsutawney Phil, our state's perceptive groundhog, did indeed see his shadow on February 2nd determining that there would be another six weeks of winter, and the magnolia buds have yet to release their tight grip.  Fortunately, with last week's warmer weather and welcomed sunshine, it's finally beginning to feel like spring.

We've had a lot of changes happening in our household this month.  Mr. Tailor has left the nest again for California in pursuit of an adventure and enlightenment.  For the next two months he'll be biking throughout the state, couch surfing, and taking pictures while subsisting on the money he saved while living at home since November (you can follow him here ).  We're excited about the education he'll be gaining while on the road- and to be honest, we're feeling a little apprehensive.  It is probably for the best that Mr. Tailor has kept the finer details of his excursion to himself- he knows us quite well.

I am trusting that everything will be ok.

Actually, I'm counting on it and I've had some experiences recently that have been teaching me that help really does present itself in one form or another.  We really aren't alone in this game called life- and I'm not talking about God here.  Well, not unless one wants to label the loving individuals that manage to say the right things or offer the right assistance at the right time and right place as "God".  If so, then I could very well be talking about God- and I'm not sure.  However, I have three things swimming in my head lately that I want to share. On the surface they might not seem related but I'll leave the connection up to you.  This is what I've found:

1) "You're half right"
Mr. Hero and I have been married for twenty-one years. And in this time we continue to have the same pattern repeat itself over and over again when we are snippy with each other. Usually what happens is that one of us expresses a complaint or criticism that ends up placing the receiver on the defensive.  Our feelings get hurt and we feel attacked- even though the only intention might be to express an honest opinion. This isn't very pretty and tender hearts get hurt.  Lately, I've been wanting to find a tool to help me contain the criticism without bruising the ego.  This week I found a solution- on page 117 of Thich Nhat Hanh's little book on love.

His sixth mantra is, " You're partly right"- I remembered it as "You're half right".  What these three little words did for me when Mr. Hero was speaking about something that would have otherwise  roused my defenses was offer a salve.  Instead of tuning out his words to contradict his truth with mine, these words allowed for the room to receive.

Conversely, another situation came up later in the week when a co-worker offered a towering  compliment about my work.  Instead of basking in the glow of her words,"you're half right" came to mind and I was able to contain her praise with humility.

2) Half birthdays

We're celebrating them.  Mr. Ninja is our first guinea pig and we're making merry with half a pumpkin pie, some cash (his age times two), and a book of his choice picked from our favorite local bookstore- The Midtown Scholar.  The idea is to keep them simpler than a birthday but have an excuse to honor each other more often in the year.

3) A Movie

So there's this movie called Boy Meets Girl.  Mr. Hero and I had some alone time to check it out the other day.  It's honest and sweet and will surely provide an engaging discussion afterwards.

* some other books to consider about these topics: No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh and When it Happens to You: A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald


Kath said...

Beth, I love your wisdom in this post. Half right is a very good way of looking at things. So I popped over to your son's site then saw that he had stood on a sting ray. My heart leapt for you and I couldn't bear to look any more. Oh my goodness, children and their scrapes. He will be fine though and will, I am sure, grow and thrive, I just don't want him to step on any more rays.

the Lady said...

Hiya Kath,
Mr. Tailor has had a few of those close calls while on his adventure and I'm so happy that he has managed to survive them. No one prepares the mama bird when her fledglings leave the nest- or the message didn't quite sink in at the time. Luckily there's GoogleMaps and cell phones and loved ones close by to lend a hand when crisis comes knocking. There's a palpable comfort in that- even from three thousand miles away.