“But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”
“You will know when you are calm. At peace. Passive.”
Three pictures: when I trained Aikido, I once asked Tetsutaka Sugawara Sensei where I was supposed to focus my eyes. I don’t remember his answer. I do remember him looking at me for a long moment. I remember watching him later that day, his face that gave nothing away while he trained and then warmed with a smile, his quiet eyes, wondering how he saw so much. I remember realizing I might have asked the wrong question.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld says a mature mind can bring everything together, all the conflicting voices and perspectives, and find balance in the tension. The trick is learning to hold a large enough space. The trick it to hear the different sides—this, what I’m writing, isn’t good enough; a blog is a vanity project anyway; I like writing these; go back to the idea, before it slips away; I love the sound of the rain—without letting one of them drown out the others.
I just came back from a walk. It’s windy out, and the trees are budding, red and purple and white. A little girl rode a bike, wobbly and smiling, her father cheering her on until he called her back. In the last month, I’ve found myself saying more or less the same thing when people asked how I was doing: “I’m alternating between feeling pretty good and feeling very overwhelmed, but I’m trying to be kind as I go back and forth.” Sometimes I add I’m grateful, I’m spending more time looking out the window, I’m scared. As the weeks go by and my answer stays similar, I’ve started wondering if I’m stuck. It seems silly, saying the same thing, again and again. Walking today it didn’t feel silly. It felt like, bit by bit, I was opening a larger space. I’m raising the tent beneath which I can be all of that at once.
You will know when you are calm.
I have this idea that Sugawara Sensei saw what I meant, saw what I was holding to—a world with just one rule, maybe: this way, or that way—and saw that I wasn’t ready to let go. So he let me watch his own careful look. He left me with that look, so I could keep wondering, so that, a long time later, I might wonder into a walk through budding trees.
As peace. Passive.
Starting to realize the open space of all that is.