19 November 2016 2 Comments

Travel Experiences 10: Working the Wound, Part 4: Perspective

Another failure of my self mastery was a matter of perspective—literally as well as figuratively. Here’s the story, in which I hope you will see some humor:

At the shriek of dawn I went out in the rain to get a few photos without people in them. The square by the Hallstatt boat station was deserted, but for one Japanese woman wandering. As I established perspective for my shot I noticed her become attentive. From the corner of my eye I saw her move a few feet to my left. The moment I began to shoot she stepped directly in front of me, three feet away, obscuring my view!

This one was okay; woman didn't notice I was there and wasn't so close.

This one was okay; woman didn’t notice I was there and wasn’t so close.

Gobsmacked, I cried “HEY!” and put myself three feet in front of her, demonstrating my complaint.

I had been telling myself for days that it was my imagination that a tourist would inevitably stand in front of me the moment I tried to take a photo. I told myself it was just the crowds, that we all want the best angle.

This shot was not improved by an exact position, yet the moment I looked through the lens, she darted in front. This act was so bald it might have been a joke. She had seen me glance at her when I was setting up my shot. Then she suddenly acted as if she didn’t notice me. This was not accidental, but neither did this seem to be a conscious act. I got the distinct impression I was supposed to pretend she wasn’t there. I had to surmise that this behavior was driven by cultural factors.

While not pleased with it, I gave my own behavior a low pass. In Western culture communicating boundaries is healthy and the woman’s behavior was quite rude. Language hadn’t been working, so I explained though action. Low because I did not decide to do it; I reacted. And I might have demonstrated gracefully.

When I give someone feedback about their behavior I always hope they will now think twice before doing the same thing to other people. I am hoping to contribute to the way the world works. I am even effective sometimes. I want to be intentional about this, not reactive or unrealistic. I am trying to give up awakening humanity in favor of awakening myself.

Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.”

Yes, we can wake ourselves up in our usual locations, but we do learn different things in new places and circumstances, which can stimulate new ways of seeing. Making ourselves available to experience and img_4897contemplate different cultures helps us to challenge our assumptions. Our own unexamined cultural expectations influence how we view people and respond in situations, increasing self awareness.

Every personality has features that resist Inner Work. These features are obvious in some personalities, and invisible in others. Those whose flaws are less evident to others rarely receive feedback about them. They then have less incentive to address their flaws, which operate internally but do not draw comment. Self-satisfied pride under a mask of humility or fear of conflict disguised as a spiritual value exemplify this principle.

Are your personality flaws easily noticeable or hidden?

What would come about if you directly expressed a hidden flaw?

If you judge people who express things that you hide, what fears underlie this judgment?

What would it take to master an obvious flaw?

What vulnerability lies underneath that flaw?

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2 Responses to “Travel Experiences 10: Working the Wound, Part 4: Perspective”

  1. Therese 20 November 2016 at 6:58 am #

    I love your point, “I’m trying to give up awakening humanity in favor of awakening myself.” Great statement!

    I’m going through a new period of changing perspective. I use to hold the belief that, if I could find the right words, I could reach people who are so fearful they feel a need to rigidly control others and help them see how their beliefs are harmful to those around them. I no longer believe this. The only way to reach a person so smothered by their beliefs is for them to be in so much internal pain they choose to look at their beliefs. No one can make this happen. No one can do the work for them. I admit I’m struggling with losing my belief that all humans are humane. At their core, they are. But once it’s buried under all the rigidity, people can be quite willingly inhumane. I have a lot of anger I’m processing around this. It’s difficult to give up my optimism. I realize my optimism was a form of control because I wanted to be able to change people’s beliefs. That’s not my job. Anyway, I’m still working through all my thoughts and feelings.

    Thank you for continuing to share your story.

    With Love,

    • Teresa Dietze 20 November 2016 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Dear.

      In general, what you have come to is important, but there are modifiers. I think it’s really important to see, feel and accept the insights you are embracing. I also see people growing, unfolding, opening and awakening in response to Inner Work, their committed responses to healing sessions, and spiritual community. The fact that people can and do unfold this way does not mean that those who are not seeking to will be able and willing to embrace input.

      After all the world changes lately I almost dropped the tail end of my story since it seems like old news, but it feels right to complete it. Thank you for your encouragement, and for sharing yourself.



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