Published March 19, 2017
culture , dailyom , learning , life
Tags: challenge, culture, dailyom, learning, life, people, relationships
We tend to gravitate toward people who are the most like us, at least in the ways that make us feel comfortable. But life has its way of bringing us into contact with people who challenge us with their differences. It may be an obvious difference reflected in their outward appearance or an invisible but powerful philosophical stance, but even in our closest circle of friends and family, there are those that confront us with their different ways of experiencing and expressing life. We can choose to resist , but we can also choose to learn from them and appreciate that they too have a place in the kaleidoscope of life.
As much as we may say that we want peace and quiet and a life without struggle, the truth is that human beings are, at this time, thriving in a world of dualities and challenges. It is how we choose to approach these hurdles that determine if we sail over them, confirming our agility, or trip and end up face down in the dust. And each of us absolutely will and must stumble, and then get up, brush the dust off and carry on. This is how we learn and grow, developing depth of character and shades of understanding. In a world of dualities, we have trouble defining ourselves without something opposite, and can’t discover who we are. Without challenge, there is nothing to do and nothing to discover. That leaves us either in a state of non-being or the state of pure spirit, but as humans, we are spiritual beings experiencing the physical world in all of its startling contrast and beauty.
No matter how spiritual we are, our lives will have challenges. We will always run into people that are different that we are, but the true challenge may be in finding ways to be at peace with this process. Rather than give in to the fight or flight response that comes from our animal nature, we can find new ways to evolve together into higher more beautiful expressions of ourselves, realizing, embracing and celebrating the beauty of diversity and the strength it offers for the future.
Throughout the course of a successful marriage or long-term commitment, the two people in the relationship may shift in and out of various roles. For example, one person in the couple may support the other person going back to school. In order to do this, he or she steps into a supporting role, setting aside certain goals or aspirations in order to provide a stable base from which his or her partner can launch in a new direction. There are many gifts of learning inherent in this role—from having the opportunity to embody a nurturing stance to feeling the pleasure of seeing a loved one thrive. When our partner expands his or her horizons, ours expand, too, and we gain access to a world that would otherwise remain closed to us.
However, there is also much to be said for having a turn to be the one stepping outside the box, perhaps taking time to attend to our personal healing, spiritual pursuits, or other interests. In order to maintain balance within our relationships, it’s important that we address these issues each time one person steps into a supporting role so the other can try something new. When we are conscious about acknowledging that one person is bearing a bit more of a burden so that the other can grow, we stand a better chance of making sure the ebb and flow in the relationship remains fair and equal.
The most important part of this process is open communication in which each person has a chance to express how they feel and come to an understanding about the roles they have agreed to play and when they expect them to shift. Each time a dynamic shift occurs, a ceremony of acknowledgment can lend an air of distinction to the moment. This can be a simple dinner date or an elaborate ritual, depending upon what works best for us at the time. Perhaps the most important thing is expressing gratitude to the person in the supporting role and encouragement to the person moving in a new direction. When the flow of feeling and communication is open, a healthy closeness develops that allows each person in the relationship to have a turn at each of these important roles.
We live in a culture that uses labels as a means of understanding the world and the people living in it. As a result, many of us find ourselves laboring under a label that has a negative connotation. Unless we can find a way to see the good in such a label, we may feel burdened by an idea of ourselves that is not accurate. It is important to remember that almost nothing in this world is all good or all bad, and most everything is a complex mixture of gifts and challenges. In addition, different cultures revere certain qualities over others, but this does not mean that these qualities are inherently good or bad. For example, a culture that elevates outgoing behavior will label an introvert in a negative way, calling them antisocial. In truth, the ability to spend time alone is one that most great artists, mystics, and visionaries share. Owning the positive side of this label can lead us deeper into our gifted visions and fertile imaginations.
When we look into the lives of any of the great people in history, we always find that they had quirks and eccentricities that earned them less than ideal labels from the societies in which they lived. Many famous artists and musicians were considered to be isolated loners or disruptive troublemakers, or sometimes both, yet these people altered history and contributed to the world an original vision or advances in our understanding of the universe. If we can remember this as we examine our own selves and the labels people use to describe us, we find that there is a bright side to any characterization.
If you have been labeled, remember that all you have to do to see the positive side is to turn the label around. For example, you may be considered to be overly emotional, and the fact that you are perceived this way may make you feel out of control. But notice, too, the gifts of being able to feel and express your emotions, even in a world that doesn’t always encourage that. You might begin to see yourself as brave and open-hearted enough to stay alive to your feelings. You may also see that there are certain paths and professions in which this is a necessary ability. As you turn your label around, the light of your true nature shines to guide you on your way.
Published September 4, 2016
dailyom , learning , life , psychology
Tags: dailyom, friends, learning, life, people, psychology, relationships
When we are going through a difficult time, we may hesitate to call even our best friends because we don’t want to burden them with our troubles. This can be especially true if we’ve been going through a series of challenges, and we’re starting to feel as if we sound like a broken record. It is important to remember that at times like these our friends sincerely want to be there for us whenever they can. We can always check with them to make sure it’s a good time for them before we start talking, and if it’s not a good time, we can call back at another time, or call another friend.
We know for ourselves that when we have a good friend, we don’t want them to suffer alone when we are just a phone call away. We want them to call us and share their sorrows with us, as well as their joys, because this is what sharing a life through friendship is about. It is at our lowest points that we really need to rely on our friends without worrying that we are a burden. If you are feeling self-conscious about having a tough time, you can bring this fact into the conversation by acknowledging it. Chances are your friend will reassure you that she is happy to be there for you. In fact, rather than feeling taxed, most of us feel better when we have helped a friend simply by listening empathically while they share their feelings.
Without our friends, we would be hard pressed to get through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. If we leave our friends out of our process when the going gets tough, our friendships can begin to feel shallow. On the other hand, when we include our friends in the full story of our life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—we build authentic relationships in which we can be who we truly are. When we do this, we invite our friends to bring their whole selves to the relationship as well.
Published June 23, 2016
art , culture , history , music , women
Tags: art, classical, culture, history, music, people, talent, women
The mother of folk singer Peggy Seeger used to be known for one short but extraordinary quartet. But now composer Ruth Crawford Seeger – who died young in 1953 – is being recognised as something of a pioneer.
We’ve all talked about ‘one-work composers’ – meaning usually those who’ve actually written dozens of pieces but only one of them ever gets played. Dukas (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice but what else?) is still in that category for most people; so are Dohnányi and Pachelbel. But the oddest case of a one-work composer is surely Ruth Crawford Seeger, who for a long time seemed literally to have written only one work. But a very remarkable one: the piece in question is a short string quartet (about 12 minutes), written in 1931. Lots of people who are interested in twentieth-century music know it – it’s been recorded several times – and it’s often been described as a masterpiece. I had no doubt that it was from the moment I first heard it, but I could find no recordings of anything else by her, and very little information about the composer herself, save that she was born in 1901 and died in 1953. A shortish life, then, but since she lived for 22 years after writing that quartet surely she must have written something else?
Continue reading ‘Mother of the Modernists’