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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Invitation/Who is Sarah?

Thursday and Landmark Seminar tonight - the "Being Extraordinary" one that meets weekly for a few hours and challenges us to make unreasonable requests of ourselves and other people. Apparently, being unreasonable is a desirable thing! Too many of us are timid and don't expect enough out of life, ourselves and others. Tuesday a call from Jen one of my fellow students who is in the midst of the Leadership course. She made an unreasonable request of me (especially because it was the second request, having said no to Landmark before). She asked that I host an introductory Landmark event in my home and invite a dozen or so people. I knew it took courage for her to reach out to me and make this unreasonable request, knew she was passionately trying to make a difference (her opening comments were something like, "I'm taking this leadership course to help change the world"), so I pushed down my distaste for Landmark recruitment practices (they can be SOO pushy) and just said yes.

Date is Friday, October 26th at 7 PM. I'll cook something wonderful like gourmet pizzas and we will sit around and talk about what breakthroughs we hope for in our lives and the lives of the people we love. The goal of the evening is that some portion of the attendees will be inspired to take the next step and sign up for the education. If you're local, please come. It's really challenging - this whole being a human being thing - life just doesn't have to be so hard. Landmark is just one way of cutting through the detritus - enlightened, curious people have been struggling for time immemorial to understand their place in the universe, how to lead a worthy life, make a difference and live life powerfully and serenely. Religion seeks to answers these questions, the Buddhists certainly, the French philosophers, authors, poets, psychiatrists, and more. It's a discussion worth having. If you, as one of my leaders said, "ache to be authentic", suspect there is more to your existence than you've tapped into, feel stuck, want breakthroughs, then come and explore.

Yesterday, Kaveh.....cried. It's finally here, the big reveal - the end to our relationship, the good good-bye. I told him a couple of things. One time he mentioned that psychotherapists have a much higher rate of suicide than the general population - it must take a tremendous toll on some practitioners to absorb the pain of others, day in and day out. I made Kaveh promise that, if life turned bad for him and he ever considered being the agent of his own end, he would find me and I would save him. I would. Next was a request for one more good-bye at the end of our lives. Assuming I die first and that there is a window to say good-bye to loved ones, I want him at my bedside. I'll be there if he goes first. Finally, I told him that every year  I will send a Christmas package with eighteen presents in it. As the years go by, I can imagine the conversation as the box is opened. "Who is Sarah?" his kids might ask. "An old patient of mine..she was very special." "Do you still talk with her?" "No, but I think of her often."

I love that man. I owe him my life.

These days I'm thinking about how hard life is for the people around me. I want to make a difference in peoples' lives but in a different way than I have in the past. Back then Sarah could be counted to throw a few bucks at any problem or in the case of my youngest, a lot of bucks. I couldn't really offer my heart (it was under lock and key), I had no time to give (busy building my business) but I could offer some problem solving in the form of dollars. These days the money doesn't flow like it used to, I have more time and my heart beats unarmored in my chest. Trying to learn new ways. Listening, appreciating, just being with people, volunteering time, being present in their lives.

And much of the time Sarah=hypocrite. I write pretty words to live by and then too often my guns are still ablazing (like with the James thing or more recently youngest daughter who called me up for motherly love and I washed my hands of her). Time to put the Landmark training to use and be extraordinary even though some days extraordinary just sucks. 

Recently Carol and I talked about her husband George's brother who has harbored resentments against George and his mother since childhood. It's a war story. A family broken apart by the Communists - they were Hungarian nobility (or close to it) owning one of the largest companies in the country. The Communists moved in, appropriated the business (or "stole" as Carol says) and the family had to flee with their lives. The father and one brother made their way to California and the mother and the youngest boy fled the country with bullets whizzing over their heads (seriously) and made their way to the UP of Michigan. They were never reunited. The father has long since died. George and his mother are here in Chicago with the younger brother feeling estranged, still in California.

When we talked, Carol was at a loss as to how to heal the rift between the brothers and their mother. So much of the resentment is old and misguided. She asked me to explain, in the words of Landmark, what you do when a racket is being run on you (rackets are persistent complaints tied to stories of the past that are perpetuated). Do you just go about your life and ignore the racket? I'm a novice at this so I wasn't sure how to respond - had to dig deep for what I hoped was the right answer. What I ended up saying is, we are NOT separate from each other. If George's brother is NOT OK, then George and his mother are NOT OK. There is a family fabric with a hole in it that weakens everyone. And, even if the brother never does his own work to dig deeper for understanding and forgiveness, the possibility could be created by George in which he envisions a new healthier family dynamic.

Once that possibility has been declared and shared with the mother and brother, it is given life and a voice. Even if the other family members don't subscribe to the new possibility, George can keep his vision front and center in his own life and here's the important thing - act accordingly - align his behavior and interactions in line with his vision. What would that look like? Not fueling the fire when the insults and recriminations come, but returning hostility with love and compassion, planning wonderful family events and working to make meaningful connections happen (sending an airplane ticket, making a trip there), encouraging his mother to call and send loving gifts, making his brother an active part of a family Facebook page, celebrating his accomplishments (which he has a lot of). That kind of thing.

As I write this, my mind wanders to my youngest daughter. I SOOOO don't practice what I preach. I'm fresh out of ideas when it comes to her, so worn out, worn down with worry and disappointment. I just don't know what to do to make a meaningful difference in her life. Feels like I've tried everything. Feeling UN-extraordinary when it comes to her. I need to find a quiet corner, meditate on her, create a new possibility for her and us and then, regardless of how she conducts her life, align all my actions in line with my vision, not surrendering to the naysayer in my head.

Your challenge today?  Ha Ha!  Sending me an e-mail that you'll come on the 26th!!!  sbritton ( at ) brittoninfoservices.com.


Picture is of my youngest.

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