Being There

Being Here

Being Now

My daughters from an early age would often riposte, “Whatever you say goes back to you!” True, that. I will take that to heart. "I'm rubber, you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. Nya, nya!" On recollection, however, I think that by saying it "goes back to you", there's no take away for any onus upon the listener to consider personal application.

If you haven’t seen the movie Being There by Jerzy Kosinski starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, and Melvin Douglas, please do. It’s a well told tale. It also will stir some thinking on the politics of our experience. And, read R. D. Laing’s Politics of Experience as a good companion piece if you care to expand all this into an autodidactic project. In fact, get into all Dr. Laing’s writings and have your world view tuned up, good and proper.

We all live in the same world. Yet, because of the unique filters we have ground into the lenses of our perception, we also live in our own separate worlds. Relationships are formed and perpetuated based on how nearly our personal world may match that of others. Children enter the family drama at birth and are from that first moment rigorously brainwashed into the common cant. They aim to please, and they capitulate. They become good little boys and girls. Relationships also strain and break when a party to the common consensus changes course or is found out to be other on some important pass-not-enter point. “You don’t like mom’s apple pie, who are you?” “You want to be a hairdresser?! You’re no son of mine!” “You won’t be there for Christmas???, then don’t bother to ever come back at all!”

In some very real way you get to be included in the family romance as long as you play along. Not that there's anything wrong with playing along. For sure. Just that, when you see something that no one else sees, or that no one else may want to see, letting them know may not be good for your status in the group. So it depends on where you stand, one man's act of courage is another's act of cowardice. There's nothing wrong with family. (One quip is that the definition of disfunctional is "family.") But, just like in the world at large, how much of your own truth are you willing to subvert or deny in order to belong.

Breakups are particularly difficult when one leaves the so-called family nexus, sometimes called the family romance. While the rules of inclusion are always not explicitly stated, breaking those rules exacts often harsh and final results.

Someone I know, her aunt had been divorced. The ex-husband was not included in any physical way, but he occupied a very clear and present niche in the family story. He was the one who everyone got to look down on. He was the family loser. There was never any overt maligning, but the subtext was clear: that bastard done her wrong, he’s bad. There was even a grief stricken, young ingénue daughter, forever moping about and nursing her hurt over her father’s presumed misdeed. It also seemed to me that the place he occupied in the family story required him to be shunned forever. Stripped in certain minds of his natural and necessary prerogatives as a father. Like there was a niche to fill, and he did the trick. No forgiveness for that poor SOB from that upstanding Christian family. If he were to be included in the fold, there would have to have been some earnest soul searching and courageous forgiveness. Not likely, however. That family, true to their Wasp heritage, did not deal in any interior investigation. Keep it on the surface, nice and polite. The unexamined life.

I just have to say that if anyone is harboring resentments toward anyone, I strongly urge them to let it go, completely and forever. Otherwise, they are only hurting themselves. Putting such things aside in denial and out of sight, doesn’t really take the unresolved problem out of the picture. If you don’t have a portion of your heart open because of withholding over someone or something, you don’t have that portion of your heart to share with anyone. You are then being false and not wholehearted with your loved ones. Children, particularly, sense these things and develop strategies of coping that we often then see as problematic. The story continues. Someone else will get to wear the trouble hat.

There is hope. The past is over and the future is not yet arrived. “Be Here Now’ is a contemporary buzz phrase. But, it is also a standard to live by. Everyone wants to be in the moment. The question is just how much of the past fits into the present? Don’t let the question slide because you may have the illusion that the future will take care of it. Don’t start digging the well only after the house is on fire. Even to get into heaven, you have to let go. Don’t be like so many others, showing up at the Pearly Gates kicking and screaming. It’s not nice.





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May 21, 2011