A while back I read an excerpt from “Buddhist Boot Camp” by Timber Hawkeye. The gist of it is this – The opposite of what you know is also true.
He went on to explain –
“No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place and circumstance).
This is the key to forgiveness, patience and understanding…”
I have found that looking at things from the perspective of another allows me quite a bit of insight, and makes it easier for me to accept the words and actions of others, even when I may not agree with them.
Here’s a small example from today –
My girls are usually with me Sunday night through Friday afternoon. Their dad and I both work, and being self employed I have more flexibility in my schedule to be with the girls when they need me (after school, school vacations, sick days, etc.). I can offer them the most consistent foundation, so their “home base” is with me.
He is taking a week off in August to spend more time with them. One of the girls is signed up for four violin lessons this summer – only four one-hour lessons for the whole summer. One of them happens to fall during the week they will be with their dad. He and I were texting earlier and I let him know that she has a lesson on Tuesday mid-morning.
We should not assume things (which is a whole other lesson – one on which I am clearly still working), but I did. I had already made the assumption that he is not going to take her to this lesson, or that if he does, he will do so grudgingly.
This assumption made me irritated. I’m not proud of that, but it did. So there I was getting mad about something that hadn’t even happened yet, based on an assumption I was making about someone else’s future behavior.
Anyway, I was irritated.
I thought – I get them to school every day, plus every single doctor’s appointment, dentist appointment, music lesson, summer camp, and on and on….every obligation that occurs Monday through Friday, year round. Here he can’t take one morning out from going to the beach to get her to her violin lesson?!
Then, I paused, and I flipped it.
He only gets one, maybe two full weeks with the girls. Maybe he should be allowed to plan the time that week however he sees fit. Maybe its a bit unreasonable for me to expect them to spend 45 minutes in the car each way in order to attend a one hour lesson. Maybe she could just bring her violin with her and find a quiet hour or two during which to practice at his house. Maybe summer vacations are all about making exceptions.
From there, I was able to let it go.
It was a small thing, and perhaps something I should not have allowed to get under my skin begin with. However, it was good practice.
Just like with anything else, the more we practice something the more automatic it becomes. If we use our muscles of compassion and perspective consistently, I bet we will save ourselves a lot of frustration and resentment in life.
That seems like something upon which we can all agree…or not.