To Understand is to be Free
“We shall not cease from exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.” T.S.Eliot
Something was clearly wrong this morning. The short words, the constant stares to pants and shoes, the difficulty of looking at someone through their eyes.
Unrest filled my soul. I was bound by thoughts that were all-consuming. The person at the other side of the table could sense the anxiety. There was slight trepidation. Words weren’t flowing. A smile seemed forced, dare I say fabricated. Maybe the coffee put me in a jittery state, but it couldn’t be just caffeine.
Freedom? In that moment it was absent. The soul was trapped in a container that beckoned over water, except I wasn’t Jason Bourne, with the tools and skills to just blow the container open to create my freedom.
In the midst of unrest, my mind revels. It unfortunately jumped to finding simple solutions, the coffee mug ‘quick win’ platitude that seemed to have the perfect answer to my distress. Be disciplined. Work harder. Explore, and explore to find the key that will fix all that is not there.
I’ve been down this road before. I know the path of this exploration often leads to good for most. It just never ended in anything positive personally. It only knocked me back, created more distress and created the mental ‘paralysis’ that seems illogical until it just makes sense. Oh, hi, anger. Didn’t think you’d pop in today. Oh, you want to take the couch and the TV? Who said you — — — well I guess you can have it. Maybe you could call before you came next time?
I then spoke words without tact. Possibly even offensive and discriminating. What happened next was not miracle working by any means. But I did listen. I wasn’t told off and corrected for my misdemeanour. The response I received was context. Only later did awareness click in like a seatbelt, and understanding beckoned. My mind had made some incorrect assumptions, and slowly but surely I found the key inside the trapped container.
The silence that had always been so comforting tapped me on the shoulder. Oh, hey friend.
Maybe awareness and understanding in our two shoes can bring freedom. Not works. Not well-intentioned discipline. Not by a flood of knowledge. But maybe its about knowing where we came from, giving space to breathe, processing the panic, terror and anxiety (with the room to ask ‘why’), and showing empathy to self rather than discipline. Knowing our limits, and knowing others’ limits, not as a hindrance but as a means of opportunity.
And some days, emotion blinds the awareness and understanding. Feelings will reign (for a time). But the wave and rush always has a way of slowing down just enough to find my feet again.