Remember those philosophy lessons? Socrates, Homer and Dante? Confusius, Hafiz, Rumi and Lao Tsu? Plato, a student of Socrates, was able to put into a metaphor the simple concept of how we come to understand things. Simply put, we comprehend the world, people, and ideas to the level at which we are ready to perceive. The good news is, if things are confusing, we can know it doesn’t always have to be. Our world changes as our perception of it expands.
What is your understanding of people? Do we naturally argue and conflict, and we always will? Or do you believe there is something wrong and amiss with the world that we conflict so much? Let’s try on that both are true.
To the extent that we feel discomfort from discord is evidence enough that something is “wrong”, out of place. If it was completely ordained in nature, nature would make sure it felt okay, or perhaps nothing at all to warrant changing it. But conflict does not feel good. I’m not talking about a healthy game of basket ball: I’m referring to fighting conflict and the frustration and sometimes harm that it escalates into.
Having said that, there is no way really to avoid it, because nature did something wonderful. We are all unique. Separated into bodies, unique as a snowflake or a fingerprint, even identical twins have differences. And with that, we see, hear, witness, perceive, remember, retell and are affected by the world in uniqely different ways. A husband and wife who have been through everything together in their 30 years of marriage will still argue over the dinner they last shared at the restaurant that was next to the bakery, no it was next to the clock repair shop, and it was nonfat dressing, but oil-based dressing is fat…. We comprehend the world, people and ideas to the level at which we are ready to perceive.
Conflict is uncomfortable, but why should our differences be? Maybe we are destined to experience this life as separate unique beings as a gift, but why does that become such a burden? If I’m in my cave of dry sandy walls where I can draw pictures, and you are in your cave of crystal studded walls where you can channel light, does our conflict come from our inability to understand each other’s cave, environment, possibilities? We are yelling at each other through the walls, trying to get stuff done, trying to have our point of view understood by the other, such that we forget we are yelling through thick cave walls. No wonder we’re grumpy, exhausted and hurt.
The conflict described here is not the difference of our unique gifts, not caused by diversity. It is the harm we inflict by forgetting we are unique. We suffer the passive amnesia that no two people, no matter how intimate, will ever see the world the same, will ever have exactly the same relationship with their maker as another, will always see the color green a little differently. And in that we forget what a beautiful gift nature created with all those differences.
We will all have a different take on a subject, something to offer the conversation, a unique piece of the puzzle to solve. The discomfort comes from forgetting who we are, and forgetting the other is in the same boat. Remember: You don’t have the full picture, and neither does your partner. Listen, hear, try to experience the other’s cave. And if you can’t, no worries. That you paused in your own world to respect someone else’s point of view, even if you don’t understand it or agree with it, is huge in making those walls that separate us a little thinner and possibility for connecting a little closer. So maybe conflict is inevitable, but the discomfort doesn’t have to be.
Sacre Cour is a place in Paris, France. A beautiful part of the city, one of the mountains that define the landscape under the old roman / gaul city scape. Sacre Cour is also the name of the church that dominates that bourough. Sacre Cour, sacred heart, reminds us that the root of courage is heart, not mind.
We do not know where we will end up when we decide to reconcile. The place where we will end up is always unexpected, not where we planned. Why is this?
Because the place where we are heading is undiscovered county, a place we have never been. It is brand new territory. Traveling in a strange land with a different landscape, climate and language, we understandably feel anxiety, trepidation, excitement. Or maybe we avoid it, stay home where it’s safe and familiar.
This is why true reconciliation feels uncomfortable or strange or exciting, because it is supposed to be a place that is unfamiliar if true change is occurring.
Having said all that, this strange place may not be a place you have never been. Just unfamiliar. In fact we have all been there: connected, understanding, compassionate. Many of us lose our way back, many more forgot how we left. Re-conciliation is a return to the place of connection. Take heart, feel courage in knowing once you travel far enough in, you will recall the steps, remember the language, and return to heart.
Peace is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, a little bit of faith, but most importantly, conviction. Choosing to live in peace means choosing a direction and heading there:
- Remain conscious – west
- Sustain curiosity – south
- Embrace compassion – east
- Live in a state of gratitude – north
All other experience – anger, confusion, feeling betrayed, rejected or lost – is the juicy stuff that people pass through to the other side. The light is there. Keep at it, and remember your compass.
One of my favorite tarot cards is Major Arcana card #6 – The Lovers. Aside from it evoking romantic images of two different beings, balanced in power, one interpretation makes it clear that the way they succeed is to respect the differences and the perfect space between. In their union, they maintain that gentle duality, that individuality, that is necessary. They need this to create the complementary nature of this card’s energy. Indeed, without it, the inertia of their union would stop, solidify and die.
Much like the value of yin and yang, balance of opposites, and physical forces of friction in the universe, a healthy relationship needs space and needs differences to keep it moving.
How does gravity function in your relationship? How do you handle the build up of energy?