Two interesting things have intersected for me and tonight it’s got me thinking about the nature of pain and healing.
Yesterday someone named Thomas put up a comment on the post Clearing the Bookshelf, in which I talked about letting go of books that brought up a sense of guilt in me because I felt like I should read them but didn’t really want to. Thomas wrote:
“very good. why dont you wait for something to happen in the future. Which doesnt exist. Like your teacher to arrive. The fact that you seem to have so many books telling you the same thing indicates something. bit like arriving in a restuarant anouncing your sooo hungry and then turning your nose up at every dish offered ! Ill bet you could get rid of all those books and withing five years your bookshelf will be full of more Unhappy books.“
I actually think that Thomas has some valid points – having a book sitting on a shelf and believing that it will create a healing simply by proximity is magical thinking. Believing that a teacher will show up simply because I’m sitting and waiting for one is another kind of magical thinking. The only thing that creates change in our lives is actually DOING THE WORK. A guide to the work might be found in the pages of a book; a guide to the work might be found in the lessons of a teacher…but either way WE STILL HAVE TO DO THE WORK in order to achieve the healing. Neither the book nor the teacher can do the healing on our behalf. And if a teacher is supporting you in believing that they can do the healing for you, or that you’ll get the healing simply by being in proximity to them…GET A DIFFERENT TEACHER.
Yes, I feel strongly enough about this to shout a little.
So here’s what particularly interests me about Thomas’ comment: he was clearly razzing me about what I had written. And it didn’t tweak me at all. Not because he didn’t have some valid points, but because I recognized that what he was saying was relevant to an older version of me, but not today’s version of me.
How easy could it have been for me to get really bent out of shape about how badly someone misinterpreted my words, my intentions, my feelings, and me in general? Pretty easy if I’d been in that space. So what makes the space I’m in different from that other space?
Tonight I watched my teacher, Iyanla Vanzant, on Oprah’s Life Class and she said something that makes it all clear to me (I’m paraphrasing her to the best of my memory): “If there’s no pain, you don’t look for a fight. When you’re in pain, you look for a fight everywhere, you pick a fight, and you will find a fight.”
I’m so grateful for this very clear confirmation that I’ve done enough healing to not go looking for a fight.
It’s perfectly okay with me that Thomas has his opinion of my words and my work, because I can let his opinion be his. It doesn’t color my feelings about the work I do. It doesn’t have any bearing on the work itself. It doesn’t have any bearing on the people who DO get something out of being here.
And I don’t need to change his opinions about me, either. Because my opinions about myself and my work don’t have any bearing on the path that he is choosing to follow.
As Iyanla would say… “What a blessing.”