empathy · rage · tools


8.23.18It is the very rare occasion that I become embroiled in a battle of wills with a colleague, so it was and is all the more momentous to me that it happened yesterday.  Because the details do not matter, I will say I felt as though I was being told to lead my students in a way that is anathema to me and antithetical to the way teaching literature says to lead.

And yet, this is also “how it is” right now, and my work today is to come to grips with that.

Unsurprisingly, the Universe has its eye out because I found a notepad this week from 2008.  It’s one of those small writer’s notebooks in which I apparently jotted down all manner of things, including the following questions I flipped to at random when I found the pad:

“Am I willing to let go of my need to know?  Am I willing to let go of my judgment of right and wrong?”

OH BOY! Is this up right now?!?!

These fears (because ultimately that’s what my rage is/was) prevent me from being in the moment, and if I’m not in the moment, I can’t lead my students in any which way whatsoever.

So, this morning, I finally remembered I have tools to deal with torrential emotions such as these, and I began to write in that more formalized process of processing.

Part of that exercise is to write down everything I wish I’d said or would like to say to that person.  And, boy howdy! WAS THAT FUN!!!!  It’s one of my favorite pieces about that work because, this morning, all I’m doing is trying to construct ways in my head to “make nice” and how I can approach this person today to “make it right,” but I cannot at all do that if I’m still irate.  Which I am.

So I have to purge.  I have to get those torrents out of my brain and onto the page, where they can live, honoring my experience and feelings and without harming someone else or myself.

I’m allowed to be angry; it shows me where I need to grow.  But I am not allowed to hold it in my head and let my adrenaline rush when thinking about work relations.  Because then I’m not present and I’m not doing what I’m actually paid to do, which is to be of service.  I’m there to be of service to this colleague who is trying their best, even though those efforts are to me presently staccato.  I’m there to help my students along a new project that hasn’t been built yet, and to have empathy with my coworker as they build the bridge they’re asking us to walk across.  (Forgive the gender-smudging but grammatically incorrect “they.”)

It can’t be easy to do what they’re doing.  But, I guess what I riled me up was the fact that it’s not easy to do what we’re being asked to do either.

So I got to rage on the page.  I get to keep my feelings to myself, my notebook, and a trusted friend on this one, and show up as a teammate.

Our jobs are hard enough without cutting each other down with dissent.

Luckily, today is a prayer service day, in a synagogue, with songs, and music, and stained glass, and stillness, and calm, and I’ll get to land back in my body, where the only work I can ever do is found.  Please please please, amen.

action · anger · faith · fear · god · hope · perseverance · rage · self-will · spirituality · surrender

But, damnit, I *do* care.




I’ve had “I’ve got you, babe” stuck in my head for the last
few days. I’m catching up on the 2nd half of the final season of House, and one of the characters was singing and playing
it the other day. I’ve been thinking about it, vaguely, in relation to the
whole “turning it over” concept that’s asked of me in my current work. Turn it,
everything, present, past, future, over to something else, something “caring,” it tells us because, as we’ve learned by now, trying to do it, to finagle it on my
own, doesn’t work out too well.
However, this “care” business… Well, we heard me gripe about
“god” the other day. And luckily I still have a few prompt questions to write
through and maybe get somewhere with around … “god.” I just don’t know what
will come of it. Although I’ll do it anyway.
I know I’m “not alone,” I know that there’s healing and
progress and momentum in doing this work without knowing the outcome. But, I’ve
had to up my own woo-woo-ness to help get me there a little. Because, as I’ve
said, sometimes “god’s plan” includes some really fucked up shit. And fuck
trusting that “thing” whatsoever. Asshole.
Jews are supposed to “wrestle and grapple” with god. It’s
part of what we’re asked and allowed to do.
On Saturday night, I saw a play that was focused around a
Catholic family in the 50s and their relationship to each other, Catholicism,
and a nun with a heart condition. The main character is a 12 year old boy,
heading to confirmation, and he keeps on questioning the doctrines. Why did god
put us here, is one of the questions the nun asks. He replies, To have fun. –
That’s not the proscribed answer, by the way.
If you don’t learn this, you go to hell. Well, I’m not sure
I believe in hell, he replies.
He isn’t quashed at the end; in fact, his questioning helps
to open everyone else up.
And so, I have to believe that my questioning, my hesitance,
my ire will do the same.
I am past a point of blind faith. But, sometimes there’s
nothing else than that either. So, what then?
There’s a billboard I drive past on the way to work. For
about a month, it was an ad for a casino, portraying simply the eyes of a
ravenous, coy, coaxing woman. The copy read: Luck will find you.
Each time I drove past it, I said aloud, No it won’t.
Luck doesn’t find us. We find Luck. To quote the 80s: “There is no fate but what we make.”
And yet, … I’m past the point of blind willfulness, too.
I know that a belief in hope and change, in love, lead me to
show up for things that are uncomfortable. I know that my knowledge that I
really can’t do it alone leads me to call people, write this homework shit, and hope
that the next right action will open up to me.
I know I’m not hopeless, or a hopeless case. I know I’m not
throwing off the mantle of faith in favor of self will-ing myself through my
life. I’ve spent plenty of torn-up hours trying to “make it work.” Trying to
change others, my past, present, and future.
So, I know I’m at surrender. I know I’m at the place of
letting go, and trusting “what is.” Or trying to trust it, rather.
But, I’m scared. I’m scared for me, I’m cautious with my
hope for others; I’m a great scoop more apathetic about the god thing, at the
same time I’m more charged about “moving forward” in many places in my life.
I’m tired. I’m grieving the loss of innocence. I cannot yet
believe in the (fucking) “care” of a higher power. I think Fate is an asshole.
The schmuck who pulls your chair out from beneath you when you’re about to sit
and, like Nelson on The Simpsons,
cackles, “Heh Heh!”
I thought I’d given up that one, that punitive idea, that
pull me closer/push me away god.
I could decide to call this all evidence of that god, and therefore defy and reject the whole concept. Every
day I go to work with a woman who lost her baby at 8 months pregnant. Every
day, she and I, simply by our presence, remind one another that nothing is certain in this life. Joy is not guaranteed.
So, like I said, I’m ramping up my woo-woo tools again. I’m
reading affirmations, listening to them, signed up for the Oprah/Deepak
meditation month. I’ve got to. I’ve got to give myself some pudding in which
the medicine is slipped.
I’ve got to tell myself, in a fake it till you make it way,
that I am alright. That 5-year mortality statistics don’t mean anything to a bad-ass like me.
That I am cooler than I think I am, and worth every effort and so much ‘then
some’ that I take toward my health and my goals.
I’ve got to say, I believe in the care of these simple
things. In the care of a little self-love. In the care of a coffee date with a
friend, the soft breathing of a baby.
Anything else can go fuck itself.