I was confronted today … with an idea and a criticism. First the idea part. How about if I started living my life without needing people’s agreement? For one thing, I wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder to see if folks were still liking me. I wouldn’t have to tailor my comments to the audience, to test the wind to see if an idea would fly. I would be totally willing to say my truth without antagonism. I could enter into dialogue with someone who sees the world differently, perhaps in the end agreeing to disagree.
If we’re breaking new ground here, leaning into future possibilities, then falling back into the tried and true won’t get the job done. The world needs fresh ideas and I include myself in the company of people who can create them. And if it’s new, naturally there’d be little agreement in the marketplace. There’s no track record for such a courageous thrust into the unknown. But the novelty of thought is where I want to be, rather than simply following the traditional ways of doing things. If I stay traditional, naturally others will be nodding their heads in response, but where’s the juice in that?
And then there’s the spiritual practice called being criticized. I felt myself contract today in response but I kept my head up, and my eyes in contact with my confronter, refusing to shrink all the way down to silence. That’s been my pattern, to plummet into the abyss of “I’m bad”, to run away with my tail between my legs. So dissatisfying. I was once told to surround myself with powerful people, to let them impact me, jolt me. Well, so be it. In order to be the conduit for great things in the world, I need to be open to influence, to correction. I need to be open to the type of conflict that raises us both up to be our best. I need to be in a tennis match with someone equally as committed and farther down the path of transformation, someone who will hit tough shots into the corners and draw out my very best in response.
I love the peace of meditation but it pales before the love flowing through a relationship between two people who are committed to each other. There’s a brilliant aliveness in asking the other person to be great, and allowing them to do the same for me.