Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bounding Out on New Paths

In the Pasture
Mary Oliver

In the first day of snow, when the white curtain of winter began to stream down,
The house where I lived grew distant and at first it seemed imperative to hurry home.
But later, not much later, I began to see that soft snowbound house as I would always remember it,
And I would linger a long time in the pasture turning  circles, staring
At all the crisp, exciting, snow-filled roads that led away.

Memories are inconclusive. With each recall, our brains change the version of the previous until we cannot know for sure what happened.  We can only know how we interpret events of the past in the present moment.

Given this, it does seem as if we can change the past. For we have today to place a shroud of memory over our regrets, our misgivings, or our loss.  We can let go of the stories of disconnection or hyperindividualism and infuse our stories with the meaning of interdependence.

For instance, perhaps you recall a time when a friend said or did something that resulted in harm to you.  Each time you bring up that pain or discomfort from the past, you augment your judgment about the friend, yourself, or the human species as a whole.  You withdraw from that relationships or close your heart to them and to yourself.  It is like burrowing into a cold house where you wish for life to be different .  Looking out of the frosted windows of our heart, you spin fantasizes of how it should be. 

Today though let go of blame and instead see how you are the other person.  There is no wrongdoing or right doing from the perspective of the pasture, only a field where we see the beauty that is the world, is also each of us.  We each choose strategies to meet the same beautiful needs of love, connection, and community. Some of these strategies are more skillful and produce more benefits than harm. Other strategies are disasters.  Regardless, beauty dwells in each of us and motivates our actions.

With this in mind, we open up new possibilities of choices in our relationships. Perhaps you will choose to call your friend, or to be at peace with what happened.  We are neither victim nor evil perpetrator. We are each other and this beautiful world, and we can choose how to act from this day forward. We may take roads that  lead away from memories that bind us.

When have you seen a memory change over time?  Has this served you well?

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