I’m going into 2015 thinking about freedom and responsibility: balancing them.
There’s a kind of spirituality teaching that I am here to blossom, to sing my song and unfold like the spring. To live my own truth. Sometimes its teachers propose that toxic people should be left behind, to move on from what no longer serves you. They say that one should separate from people whose energy field is depressing and destructive.
Then there’s a spirituality teaching that the most challenging and difficult people are precisely sent to be one’s teachers – to be grateful for them and learn from them, for they reveal one’s own shortcomings to oneself.
There’s an approach encouraging a person to pursue an ideological path, separating from those who do not share it. But others would say that old loyalties matter, even if friends from long ago are no longer walking the same path.
It seems to me to be about balancing freedom and responsibility.
On the freedom side:
- To step into happiness
- To choose health and peace
- To fulfill one’s heart’s calling
- Not to permit others to channel their agendas through me
- To set appropriate boundaries (regarding time, body, mental health, money)
- To feel at peace with saying “No.”
- To accept what is right for me will occasionally disappoint the hopes and expectations of others
On the responsibility side:
- To be kind
- To respect others (any species)
- To be willing to listen
- To examine my conscience, looking thoughtfully at my words and actions – asking myself if I operate the same standards for myself as for others
- To seek to deepen my understanding – concerning health, the intricate web of life, human relationships, the effects of my actions and choices
In 2015, this is the area I want to look into more deeply.
Among my personal relationships, there is some tangled knitting! I am gradually drawing apart the muddled and knotted skeins, trying to see what came from where, how to restore it to where it belongs. My goal is to do this delicately, without losing patience and pulling it impetuously into tight knots.
In a recent conversation with the Badger, he considered the ways in which he felt he had changed through travelling along with me and my family. He had become quieter, calmer, more peaceful, he thought – and more open to certain perspectives that had once felt foreign, weird. He said he thought I had changed too – that in the (as of this January, nine) years we have been a couple, his observation was that I have become more solitary. He’s quite right.
This too asks me to balance freedom with responsibility – solitude is potentially selfish but also, to those of us who need it, a pull that cannot be denied. My social interactions have to be stringently limited to be successful. As Thomas Merton said (and this made me laugh):
“It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness
with which I can truly love my brothers.
The more solitary I am
the more affection I have for them.
Solitude and Silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.”
These are the areas of life I have in my sights for 2015.