The Only Life You Could Save

One of the type phrases I have worked diligently to eliminate are statements like “she made me angry…”, “he made me feel bad…”, “they caused me to feel self-conscious.” and any other assertion that pushed the majority of my mood or state of mind off on someone else.  Certainly what others do, affects me.  Being long shy of perfection, the actions and words of others do get to me, but far from how the once did.

If I could soak up only the good effects that come from praise, positive acknowledgement or expressions of caring and love, that would be wonderful.  I am glad to be “made” by others to feel such things and choose to be effected by them.  However, the tendency is to reflect away the pleasant to some degree and soak up the negative to a point beyond what was said or done.  It is a human condition that dates back to living in the wild when acute awareness of what was bad, wrong or dangerous kept one alive.  That sensing ability is not without benefit today, but I would be better if about 90% of that sense left me.

I know the effect on me of another’s actions or words is in vast majority my choice.  No one makes me feel ANYTHING unless I give my permission.  No longer does that old dodge for my feelings and reactions work well for me.  Once the truth is known, it is quite difficult to delude one’s self any more.

“THE JOURNEY” by American poet Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only that you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

These days I am focused on saving and shaping the one life I have control over: MINE!  In the doing of it there has been a discovery I actually can change others indirectly.  As time passes others notice my genuine growth and peace of mind and end up wanting some of what I have.  It is a path I can instruct others about.  The best I can do is illustrate what I have learned through my actions and thereby teach by example.

Once upon a time “I walked mostly in the dark of ignorance”, but now make my way largely “in the light of knowledge” learned the hard way (at least the majority of the time!).  To be grateful for the person I am today, gratitude must be genuine for every trial and problem faced.  Those challenges, especially the ones I could not imagine how I was going to live through initially have brought my most profound teachings.

Don’t settle for comfort.
Don’t ignore the emptiness.
Seek love.
KatieP –

First posted on March 26, 2012