Wednesday, August 31, 2011

True Colors; a Polarity? (My 2nd Guest Blogger's Perspective)

My friend Lana has asked me to write a guest post.  This is my first invitation to guest post and I am really honored.

Since receiving Lana's email, I have done a lot of thinking about what "A Person's True Colors" means to me. I realized that I had no idea. So I thought I'd begin by seeing how each word resonated with me as it would relate to the context of a person's true colors.

PERSON - human being, regarded as an individual

TRUE - authentic, honest, without guile (as an adjective to COLORS)

COLORS - as related to PERSON + TRUE = only two colors - LIGHT or DARK

Now we've move into philosophy, theology and, of course, reality.
Light & dark are metaphors for good and evil.

At this point, I understood how and why these three words, strung together into this popular idiom, resonate deeply with my mind, spirit and my view of life's purpose.

Years ago, I developed a personal theory about people. People are divided into two categories.
What are a person's true attitudes, opinions, and biases?  Do live live as "I" and "Other".

GOOD PEOPLE are kind, cooperative, loyal, compassionate, supportive and are conscious to do no harm

BAD PEOPLE are kind when it is to their advantage, mean and manipulative when it suits them. I believe these are unhappy people, filled with poison and that is what emanates from their actions and speech.

There is very little cross over in my experience. We are either one or the other.

We all are creatures of the light but we also have our dark hidden corners. Duality. The way
in which darkness and light manifest in each of us depends which one tips the scales.

Endless variations contribute to creating who we are as people and how the balance of light and dark are at play within our psyche. Such a complex issue. One that I have neither the knowledge nor credentials to extrapolate upon. But credentials or knowledge have little to do with feelings. So I will bring this back to the personal and try to articulate what this idiom means for me.

We all disappoint. We don't always, nor can we, meet others expectations of us.
A myriad of things impact everyday on how centered and aware of ourselves we are at any given moment. So many triggers pull us away from the best we want to be and that best is fluid. So maybe we're tired, grumpy, impatient, a little too snapish sometimes and feel badly afterwards. These are not the moments that define our true colors ~ these are the moments that define our humanity.

 Hypothically . . .
When my good friend becomes ill, really ill - I fade into the backround just when she
needs me more than ever. I tell myself, oh I can't watch her in pain, or being depressed - it hurts me too much. What's the color of friendship? What's the color of support or compassion. I don't know what these colors are, but I apparently don't to have them.

I have some childen and they're lots of work, they make noise and are demanding. I have a life too ~ I can't spend all my energy on kids. What is the color of caring? What is the color of nurture? What is the color of responsibility and commitment? I can't say, because they are missing in me.

A member of my immediate family has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and will need care. I seem to be the only caregiver around. I am filled with resentment that I have to do this. What is the color of loyalty? What is the color of courage and empathy? What is the color of gratitude and service? Again, I am at a loss.

 Hypothically. . .
My dear friend is ill and depressed. My heart needs to be near her, just to be there and help out where I can ~ whatever helps her weather this piece in her life, I want to go through it with her, with healthy boundaries.

I have some kids. They are so loud and joyful. They sometimes fight with each other and I can see how they learn to resolve their issues. So my house will be messy for a few years. I love to read with them, go to museums and share in their expanding world. I also know I need some time for myself and alone time with my mate. All of us benefit.

My mom is declining with Alzheimers. It is heartbreaking. Being her caretaker is exhausting with all my other responsibilities. But I recognize the blessings this opportunity provides for both of us. There are things that only happen once. It's hard, but I also know
that I will never regret caring for her for as long as I am able. I feel so much gratitude.

True colors - how do they relate to these two opposite sets of hypothetical life-situations. I think that each of us see true colors differently. We see them according to our own true colors and our private view of how we choose to see the world and the folks in it ~ and which side of the balance scale we want to carry the weight of our spirit.

When we step up. When we listen with compassion without judgement. When our natural instinct is to be helpful and we are not always the most important person in our life. When we are conscious of the way we speak to and of others and want to use right speech. The action our instinct takes when there is less than a heartbeat of time to react.

Kindness in all things
Taking responsibility for our actions whatever the cost.
PERSON - human being, regarded as an individual
TRUE - authentic, honest, without guile (as an adjective to COLORS)
COLORS - as related to PERSON + TRUE = only two colors

LIGHT - like a diamond refracting light into many colors - radiance, each it's own distinct beauty. Like the sun that shines on every living thing with impartiality.

DARKNESS - an absence of light.
But even in the deepest darkness a small spark of light can be found.

Barring neurological damage or serious mental illness, we can all choose to find that spark within us and fan it into an all consuming flame of bright light.

In truth, it is the study of my own true colors that have always been the most compelling to me.  After all, they are the only colors I am able to have any influence over. During the course of my lifetime, I’ve become familiar with any number of life’s unexpected variances – those that tend to unsettle our equanimity. Things happen despite our best ethical intentions.  We find ourselves in unexpected situations.  I’ve learned to identify these unplanned surprises as a kind of cosmic check and balance between how we measure our integrity and the courage of our character in our own mind’s eye – and - what really happens when they are put to the test.

I’ve come to understand that while observing or experiencing another’s “true colors” may be most enlightening, fascinating or hurtful and disappointing, the only paints we have to work with are our own.   

Sunday, August 28, 2011

True Colors... (by my first guest Blogger)


Sweet Lana has been encouraging me to write a Blog. I’m not sure I’m up to the task, but when she offered to host me as a guest Blogger, how could I refuse her. She is brave, gracious, perhaps a bit foolish, and kind; a great teacher. 
I came to know her by way of a comment at Sazan’s Blog, Madalawi. While emailing, the notion of “showing your true colors” came up; if I recall Lana was teasing me, about something I revealed. This reminded me of Cyndi Lauper's encouraging True Colors, and then (I knew Lana liked Alanis Morsette) I remembered Everything, loving all of someone, their light and their dark. 
Lana and I have never met in person; we didn’t know of each other 4 weeks ago. As we emailed and I read the blogs she wrote, was I seeing the “real” Lana? As she puts herself out in front of the public, unknown strangers, does she show her true colors? Would I? 
Are we reserved, treading carefully, not wanting to offend, wanting to leave a kind impression, or maybe a smart, carefree and invulnerable one. Do we put on a front, the person we wish to be or the one we want to be seen? Do we hold back, afraid to offend, afraid to be wrong or even ridiculed?
What are our true colors? Are they who we are, who we’ve been or who we want to be? Are they what we’ve done in all the past, yesterday, a few moments or decades ago?  Is it the words we write or the voice that says them? Is it what we look like, or how we would like to to be perceived? Is it our good hair or our bad hair day? If we show our colors will we be afraid of rejection, rejection our true colors  or just the ones we dared to show?
We conjure up all kinds of images when we write and read words, and then again once we hear each others' voices, when we see each other in photos and then live.  Are we afraid the real you or the real me isn’t who we imagined? Are we afraid the affection will fade as we get to know each other better?
What are our true colors? Who we are or who we want to be? Who get’s to decide? If we let them shine though, will they change, becoming brighter or will the reaction make us afraid?
I hope your true colors can come shining through, and that you love, and someone loves all your colors, all the brights, and all the dark (your laundry? ;-).   
Thanks to the wise, kind women who inspired and encouraged this post.
Dancing Brook (aka Peter K Martel)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Being Kind

I was reading the book,  Dancing in The Shadows of Love by my blogger friend Judy Croome about a young girl, Jamila, and her feelings begging in the streets of her city. Judy so eloquently wrote about how people’s judgments pierced through her and how her situation was not an easy one. She described it so well that it made me think of the young children who ran in the street of Amman begging for money and how I was always warned about them… those women in black long dresses holding sleeping babies in their arms or the little barefooted children going from car to car asking for a few pennies.

“Be careful,” they would say, “They play tricks on you. They are not as poor as you might think they are. They are dropped off by vans in the morning at certain locations and are contacted by their leader instructing them to act and behave in certain ways and then picked up at the end of the night.” Others would say “The poor little things get those few pennies and their fathers take them and spend them on cigarettes instead of sending their kids to public schools.”

Despite all the stories I heard, I could never resist the urge of giving to these kids or women but I knew that paying them did not really benefit them. And so I decided to take on a different approach. If indeed they used the money I gave them to buy cigarettes for their uncles or fathers, I would either provide them with food or talk to them about selling something at the lights. 

I have many stories about my interactions with the children who passed by my car but one story affected me the most…

and here it goes…

There was a 12 year old handsome boy, Aziz, begging at the lights one day in the summer of 2006. He was wearing shabby torn dirty clothes… he asked for money but instead I parked the car on the side of the road and called him to me. I talked to Aziz for what seemed to be an hour about how it would be better for him to actually sell something and how people would definitely buy from him as they would feel they are benefiting as well. I also encouraged him to continue his schooling no matter how hard he expressed it to be as it would be the key for him to escape the current situation he was in. More than that, it would hopefully provide him with much better opportunities in the future.

 I enjoyed the talk and seeing his handsome smudged face smile and I promised him that I would buy from him if he ever sold anything. A year passed with me not seeing him but then one day a handsome boy approached me looking decent and with shoes on. I did not recognize him at first but then he said, “Khalti (which means Auntie and it is said to older people as a sign of respect), do you remember me?”

 I felt so bad because I honestly didn’t. I see so many faces on the streets and in the classroom that I did not recognize the eyes staring back at me. “Khalti, you told me to find something to sell and said that you would buy from me.”

A flash of memories flooded back… oh yes, I remembered him… How could I have forgotten? I spent an hour with Aziz and now look at what he was doing? I was so proud of him. I parked the car to the side and we had a little chat. He was selling strawberries and I, as promised, bought two baskets from him. I asked him if he heeded my other advice too and he nodded his head with a smile saying that he attends school in the mornings. 

I left after a few minutes of chatting with him feeling a sense of relief and satisfaction. He made something of himself. He stopped begging for petty little pennies and was actually working… Yes, he was still walking around cars at traffic lights but he was working now… he was selling something and was going back and forth from his box of strawberries to the cars selling his stock. 

Yes… people can improve their living condition with a little bit of guidance… help… perseverance and a goal. 

 If we opened our hearts to the people on the streets and helped to guide them instead of judge them, we would feel good about that contact ourselves. Being kind and generous with our time, money and advice would help both parties…. would fill both parties with satisfaction, a warm tingly feeling and would probably change how each party views the other… A Kind word… a charming smile… and an extended hand… would help us all and make this world a more understanding, accepting and kinder world.