I recently had a conversation with someone that was rather intense and difficult. This is a person who’s been in my life for many years, and who’s always been dear to me.
I’ve learned so much over the years of our connection. Relationships are how we’re initiated in the world today, particularly if we’re willing to allow for freedom.
Too often, we want to make relationships what we think they should be. We hope the other person will change, or we make ourselves something we’re not in order to maintain the relations we think we’re supposed to have.
We bounce back and forth between one extreme or another in our behavior, seeking approval, love, connection or whatever else we think might fill us up.
I’ve found that what we’re really seeking is the equanimity of the middle way.
We go to these extremes as a way of helping us find ourselves. The extremes aren’t “bad” in themselves, but to stay there can be quite detrimental to our growth.
For instance, we might hold on very tightly, seeking control and certainty on one extreme. Or we might remain apathetic and disconnected on the other extreme, thinking we won’t get hurt if we have no expectations. Either of these extremes are expressions of a lack of vulnerability, and ultimately a lack of connection to our True Self.
When we’re vulnerable, we learn to love.
Vulnerability might mean trying another extreme in order to get out of one, just as the pendulum swings to the other side to eventually find its place in the middle. Vulnerability might mean letting go when we’re holding too tightly, or allowing ourselves to dream again when we’ve played it safe in life.
When we’re willing to meet these extremes with consciousness, we have the opportunity to find a healthy center. We might find ourselves dreaming while also surrendering to the flow of what Life has in store for us.
As I learn to let go of the expectations of what my relationships “should” be, I allow others to be themselves and free them from my imposing ideals. In that freeing, I also free myself.
I find myself loving more deeply, even those I cannot be in relationship with in the old ways I’d experienced them. I find myself loving myself more as well, feeling confident in who I am, standing true to what I value, and allowing myself to be vulnerable rather than so tightly guarded.
I’m still very much a work in progress, and what continues to help me year after year is working with virtue.
Aristotle defined virtue as the mean between the too little and the too much. Virtues are practices, and not just concepts. The more we practice, the more we find our Middle Way.
This is why much of what I offer works so deeply with practicing virtue. I sincerely believe that the practice of virtue could change the world.
At the end of my difficult conversation with my friend, I realized I could have been that person, still so afraid, not able to be authentically me or stand up for what I care about. The pain I could sense in my friend at having disconnected from their true passion…i.e. disconnected from Soul…was so very deep and broke my heart.
My own practice in holding my center over the years allowed me to hold center for my friend with deep love and compassion, honoring where they are with no need to change it or them.
Perseverance becoming faithfulness is one of the virtues I practice, and I could see that my perseverance to accept my friend as they are has cultivated tremendous faithfulness in the beauty of life and how every relationship and experience are there to support our development and our journey to our own Middle Way.
When we commit wholeheartedly to this journey, our practice generates a ripple effect that brings deeper love and goodness to all. And yes, patience is another virtue…so don’t expect this to happen overnight
Trust in the practice. Trust in yourself. Know that you have the wisdom within you.