I have had an interesting few months, and one of the most pleasant surprises is the way I will wake up and suddenly feel smarter! What? Smarter? Well, I’m not really smarter but I feel that way because I see solutions that had been unseen before. This has happened in two different ways. The easiest way is that I sometimes wake with a new perspective and the solution seems ridiculously obvious whereas before, it seemed extremely hard. I can see that I’ve re-approached old problems with a new outlook and seen new solutions.
For example, there is a new person that has entered my professional circle. I hear her quiet – sometimes spoken – plea for friends and I’ve tried to be friendly. It gets pretty awkward because she cannot see the relevance of anything outside herself and some unnamed trauma she has experienced (see a previous post: Hunkered Down and Holding). An attempt to have a conversation with her is almost impossible because she can’t think of a response to anything I say; she can’t hold up her end of the conversation. There have been numerous attempts to talk to her, eat lunch together, and begin a friendship. Nothing seems to take off, except for a few times when I’ve listened to a long list of perceived problems for which she can see no solutions. One day, I saw her and realized that there was no common ground with this woman; we were very unlikely ever to be friends. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing, it was that she was incapable. She hurts too much to sustain a friendship. When I stopped trying to act, I took the time to understand. I was just a little smarter because I shifted my perspective.
For other problems, I found solutions by recognizing that I could change things. I am sometimes too eager to accept what is and don’t attempt to fight it. I sometimes default to “frog” or “nuisance” mode when it comes to small problems. Seeing them too small to bother with, I just ride them out. Then something happens to make me realize that the small problem had gradually morphed into a much larger problem, much like a frog adapting to warm water that doesn’t notice until it begins to boil. Only then do I realize I need to look for a solution. At other times, I see small issues as a mere nuisance. I sail through it, hopefully with ease and grace, and move on. Then it happens again. After a few times, I realize that it is not just a nuisance; it is a pattern and I’m not pleased. So in both situations, the solution started with the realization that this isn’t going away; I actually need to do something.
My son and his pet bird, for example, had many companionable years together. Then one day, I noticed a change. I hoped it would pass, but it got increasingly worse. The bird’s song became so loud and persistent that my son feared he’d go deaf. The bird was calling for attention and my son was focused elsewhere. In desperation, he would cover the bird’s cage during loud squawking outbursts. It fixed the issue for the moment, but it wasn’t good stewardship. Thus began the downward spiral of their relationship. I wanted to help but I didn’t wish to interfere in their own abilities to work it out. My tentative attempts to assist were rejected. One day, I realized the situation was not going to resolve and I had to act for the bird’s benefit. My tentative offers of help changed to more direct ideas to resolve the situation. My son resisted, not wishing to see that the relationship wasn’t working for either of them anymore. I set a deadline and he finally took one of my suggestions. Now, the bird happily flocks with the other birds in another room and no one’s hearing is at risk. Interestingly, now that the bird is more engaged with the other birds and gets to watch cartoons on television, he’s much more quiet. His cries for change were heard. My son has moved on to a new phase of his life, going to a new place where the bird couldn’t follow. They are both happier.
I’m to the point that I am less likely to accept things as unchangeable that are, capable of — maybe even ripe for — change. Tired of hurting every day, I found a new chiropractor that used different techniques. It was good, and my body felt better – but not enough. I began receiving acupuncture too, and my body feels better than it has since my teens. Who would have guessed? I thought that joint pain was here forever, but it wasn’t. What else have I accepted that is capable of change?