Dear Inner Circle,
A successful businessman sat with me this week in an act of great courage. He has a gnawing worry that he’s losing the love of his life and everything he’s trying seems to make it worse. There’s been holidays and expensive gifts and dinners. There’s been difficult discussions that seem to heal nothing. There is no evidence of a competing love anywhere. There is plenty of consummation but not much giving going on. You cannot take what can only be given. Forcing love; reminding a partner of their obligations can only fuel resentment. While there is a lot of consummation happening, there is little contemplation. 80% of the joy of anything is in the contemplation of it rather than the consummation. I asked the man what would happen if he ate food in the same way as he sought intimacy with his partner. Woofing down food as if there will be none for the next few days, would rob the act of eating of its joy and context. Imagine that I had been away for some time and upon my return, Robyn had cooked my favourite meal and taken extra care to set a pretty table with flowers. Imagine if I walked in and got that meal down as quickly as I could. I wouldn’t particularly enjoy the food and I wouldn’t see the real gift that Robyn had made.
An impressive businesswoman this week told me how her life was unravelling. She has a loving husband and a healthy family and yet her business has parked itself in a difficult spot. This woman is really a professional problem-solver and it hurts to admit that the advice she would offer to others at such a time, appears to be flimsy at best. She’s been through scrapes before and found a way through and perhaps this is just another passing phase. The issue seems to be an accumulative emotional burden, “a weariness with life”, as my mother would call it. This woman heard me speak at a public forum where I explained how life does and should ebb and flow between highs and lows; between daytime and night time; between intimacy and longing; between mission and wishin’. Only a child refuses sleep for fear of missing something important. At my age, the thought of bed provides an incentive to finish the day. Only an addict seeks to live life in a high as if the pits of longing and wishing could be avoided. This person’s real question of me was, “How do I claw my way out of this trough and get back to a place where I’m flourishing again?” My answer is that none of us can “claw our way” to a position where we flourish again. The key is to be captured by the awesome. The awesome is always present and waiting to capture us if only we stop trying to manage it. The harder we try to capture the awesome, the quicker it evaporates between our fingers. I encouraged this woman to look at her husband as if she’d never seen him before; to look at her children in the same sense of awe that she had before she gave them names. The awesome is always present. The present is prior to experience and always present. Good experiences are wonderful but by the time we have them; by the time we know how we feel about someone or something, the meeting is already over. Both of these people have given me permission to share this part of their stories.
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