“Once You Know, You Can’t Pretend You Don’t” (MLD)

As a writer I find quotes sexy. Really, I do. Maybe it’s the way the quotation marks outside of them curve or the graceful slant of the font when italicized inside of a document. Perhaps it’s because someone was able to put the exact right thought together to make them. Maybe the sexiness lies in the power that once they are laid claim to, they are forever more out there by the quotee as theirs. That they will live on forever out there in the world of readers, of quoters, of quote gatherers like myself, people looking for a spark of information to propel them to action or to hold them back from it. Maybe it’s because those of us who are looking to be hit between the eyes, figuratively, gently with some idea, some feeling, some thought to inspire or to soothe can find it within a message from some long ago thinker in an instant after a quick quotation search on the internet these days.

I can’t explain it, but I just love how quickly a simple thought can inspire me. On my computer’s desktop there are folders filled with documents filled with quotes. Profound utterances of lessons learned and important life messages that have been amassed along my way and as I was writing this piece I thought of a few of my favorites…interpreted…

Rumi – “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”… (and there we will finally find Grace)

Shakespeare – “to be or not to be, that is the question”… (and the answer is, YES, be a writer, so start writing!!)

Descartes – “I think therefore I am”… (in big trouble)

JFK – “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” … (and be willing to start small, really, really small)

Coco Chanel – “A women who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”… (yep, I’ve always got my 3.4oz/100ml bottle of Chanel in the medicine cabinet)

Wayne Dyer – “Don’t die with your music still inside of you”… (and don’t worry that you can’t hit some of the high notes)

And then I thought of an original one that I had written a few years back. As far as I know it’s original anyway:
“Once you know, you can’t pretend you don’t.”

Once you know that your actions have consequences, once you know that what you do has the capacity to affect others, once you know that your choices are not always just about you, you can’t continue to hurt people or not continue to help them. Once you know that you are being selfish or childish in the midst of a reaction you can’t be mad at someone else for treating you as such. Once you know that you will not settle for less you can’t look to what you have settled for in dismay. Once you know that people are counting on you, you can’t hide in fear that you don’t matter. Once you know that someone loves you, you can’t wonder if they do. Once you know that you can’t drink a day at a time you can’t listen to someone who says you can. And once you know that you are a good writer you don’t have to look to anyone else to tell you whether or not you are. You already know, so stop pretending you don’t.

Once you know what you know, what you have gathered along life’s way, the responsibility for what you do with it is all yours and nobody else’s. It is all up to you.

Now I’m not suggesting that I have always gotten to this place of “knowing and not pretending I don’t” immediately. I can’t say that I have always gathered information and used it utterly or that once I knew something was not working, or was working, that I stopped doing it or continued as the case may have been. I can’t deny that I’ve sometimes done things without my own permission or that I’ve made the same mistake twice. I admit that I’ve broken more than one heart with the same doubt and would be lying if I said I was a quick study.

I have not always been open minded to the information, the self knowledge, I’ve gathered along the way throughout my journey. In fact at times I’ve needed the equivalent of a bitch slap upside the head, a crack or two with a two by four and a bolt of lightning directed at me from above to get my attention, but today, I am willing to look for the lesson. To review a situation and look at past experiences to determine how to handle something today. To reflect on situations and be willing to work if necessary towards different outcomes because of what I “know” now.

I have actually figured out that instead of looking at experiences from the perspective of:
“Oh God, I can’t believe I did that again!” or
“What the hell is wrong with me that I didn’t get it the first time?” or
“They told me so!”
“I knew it!” or

I can look at any and all experiences, the things that are my life, from the vantage point of what they have taught me. Being in the habit of asking what lessons have arisen from any given situation changes everything. Ah, that brings me to another favorite quote: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” this by Wayne Dyer. Learning how to look at life as a training ground, as a place where we try and fail and try again and succeed and try again and miss the mark and try again and hit the bullseye makes all the difference.

Within every day there are so many opportunities to learn, to grow to look at things differently that it is awe inspiring. Life’s journey is about learning and then about knowing. Learning about what works, what doesn’t work, who stays, who goes, where we are comfortable, where we aren’t, what to hold onto, what to let go of and then knowing all of it is what it’s all about. I was reminded of this while watching Oprah’s OWN network the other day and I heard her say: “When you know better … you DO better!”

I realized “Yep, I have!” I have “done better now that I know better.” And “now that I know better I am not pretending I don’t,” and that is good stuff! Sometimes the knowledge has come in tiny baby spoonfuls. At other times it has come in wheelbarrows. But the constant has been in grasping it, in striving, in reaching for it, for more of it. I always thought I was really “trying” but that word is for wimps, really. The fact is, when you are “TRYING” you have an out. You can pretend you aren’t sure. You can fail and be a victim living in, ”I was trying,” even believing that you were. You can pretend that “you didn’t know.” But doing is different.

When you are doing your life – with purpose and focusing on what you are learning as the gift…when you are looking for the information in all of it to bring you closer to what you are intended to be…when you are looking for it – really looking for it – you find the Grace that is your life. Your awareness shifts and you notice your accomplishments instead of your failures. Suddenly, instead of needing to check the box you become OK with living outside of it. You feel different inside.

You know deep down that you know that you don’t know what you don’t know and that you know that you do know what you do.

And by admitting all of it, you know better. You DO better. You don’t pretend that it’s up to anyone else to create the life that you want to lay claim to. You know going forward that it will all be about what you learn and what you do with it. With all of it.

And so, this writer, this seeker, this learner, signs off with another quote:

“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

And now I know only what I know. Tomorrow, I hope I know a little bit more. But either way I won’t pretend I don’t.

~ Risk ~ Giving ~ Anyway ~

At the root of every one of your loving intentions (a gift, message, act of kindness) towards another lies a truth. A truth that says “this is what I want to tell you, this is who I am at this moment, this is what I hope to accomplish, this is what you mean to me, this is what I think you need, this is how I hope you will feel when you receive it.” I love you.

And you deliver whatever it is – the statement, the gift, with this intent.

And you are taken aback when the other person misunderstands, reacts, doesn’t “get it.” Disbelief sets in because they didn’t see the love behind your message, your gift your intent. Wounded, suddenly, because what was supposed to be right and good and true somehow went awry. Caught off guard, reeling from disappointment, you have a choice. You can either locker down, draw your weapon, go into an emotional cave based on their response or you can remember the way of Grace by staying open and loving, keeping your original intent at the forefront of your mind, of your spirit.

The latter, this way of Grace requires a willingness that will have to counter any old tapes that want to play for you. It will require putting aside unhealed wounds (you may not even know are still there), messages from others back when, former mis-steps, and any feelings of inadequacy or “less than” or shame that may try to creep in.

This is not an easy task.

In order to do it you will have to know that at the root of every one of your intentions and at the core of your truth, also lies the truth of the other, the receiver. Their truth, with no resemblance to the one you may have been offering, that says “this is what I believe you meant,” “this is what I heard,” “this was what I needed instead,” “I’m not sure who you are at this moment,” and/or “this is how it made me feel.” And all I wanted was to feel loved, but now I don’t.

Two distant truths involving the same interaction, the same exchange of words or gifts or energies that didn’t go as intended. They don’t always meet. Many times the two truths are so far away from one another that there seems no way to get back to any meaning that makes sense. One or both of you become(s) lost, confused, dazed and even frightened. You feel unheard, unvalued, unloved and alone.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there may be two loving people afraid to believe what is happening or terrified not to. Hurt and confused that the gesture one made could have been so terribly misconstrued by the other. Or saddened because the message or the gift or the answer one received did not have the meaning the giver needed it to. And all you both wanted, needed, was to feel and give love.

And then what?

At the moment of your doubt, be willing to believe that within every situation there may lie yet another truth. The one that sits right there in the middle of the other two, but is actually deep in the heart of the universe, ever guiding, ever there to gather you back into a spirit of love and light and willingness. To guide your truth closer to his or to hers.

Know that within every exchange, every conversation, there will be three messages. The one you mean, the one the other person hears and the one that the universe grasps. They are all correct. They are all right. They all have a reason. There is no threat. The Course in Miracles teaches that “Nothing real can be threatened” anyway.

Remember that inside of every heart there are wounds that will make its’ truth different from yours. There are triggers for this heart in the same way there are for yours, based on all the gestures and motives and kindnesses and gifts given or received before and hurts it has perceived correctly or mistakenly forever, that may prevent that heart from feeling, reacting, giving, expressing or receiving exactly the way that you do. Exactly the way you thought you needed it to in a vulnerable moment.

The trick in these exchanges, these moments, is to be willing to let go of the outcome. To be willing to go to compassion. To remember to return to love. To listen without explaining. To sit still in discomfort around being misunderstood, because you remember that you understand. To remember to return to love. To remember what you meant when you gave the gift or made the gesture in the first place, even if they never do. To be brave enough to let the other person tell you what they needed, what they hoped for and what they want in a way that doesn’t diminish what you thought they needed, hoped for or wanted.

To remember to return to love. To hear the words and let them sink in and stay OK. To stand still in your love, your sacred love. The unconditional love you have found for yourself first and then for them. To Hold on and Let go. To keep on taking the risk to give. To return to Love.

With Love.