Knowing Better, Doing Better, and GETTING IT

As a continuation of Monday’s article, “Knowing Better and Doing Better,” Kathy posed a question.

First, to summarize, I shared that “When You Know Better, You Do Better,” or so says Maya Angelou.  And most of the time, I would hope it works like that.  But in fact, that’s not always the case.  Why is it, that in some cases we know better, but we actually choose not to do better?

After reading the article, Kathy asked:

“What if we really don’t know better?  What if we can state what we should do or how we should be and even tell others what it should look like but we still just haven’t gotten that final experience or aha moment that changes everything for us and now we actually do know better so we can do better?  In other words, we can state it out loud, we can understand it in our minds because we have learned it, but we still just haven’t gotten ‘it’.  I wonder if when we finally ‘get it’, is that when we truly are able to do better?”

Did you follow?  Here’s my response to Kathy with a couple of examples to help illustrate.

I think of a smoker.  He/she knows better.  Perhaps he quit months ago, but he really, really wants a cigarette.  He knows better, I believe he ‘gets it’, but he chooses to smoke anyway.  He weighs his options and makes a trade off – and he does it on purpose, knowingly.  That’s the thing with this FREE WILL we’ve been given.  [Perhaps not the best example, I realize, because it gets into addiction, and that’s a whole separate thing.  So I offer this next example, again as a continuation from the last article.]

I thought of my son and what motivated his actions that landed him in the principal’s office.  It was partly peer pressure (a desire to appear cool in front of a classmate), but also a need to stand up for me;  he wasn’t about to let someone in his grade say something ugly about his mother.

I considered his actions.  How I’m guessing he justified it in his head, then figured he wouldn’t get caught.  He knew what he was doing was wrong, but chose to go ahead.  I believe he probably weighed all of it, and took the risk anyway because it was worth it.

He knew better, chose not to do better, and in my opinion, no, he didn’t ‘get it’.

The part of ‘getting it’, in this example, I believe translates to something different than in the first example.  I think the turning point in ‘getting it’ occurs when he comes to the realization that it doesn’t matter.  Once my son realizes that it doesn’t matter if Little Boy A thinks he’s cool or not and it doesn’t matter what Little Boy B says about his mother having had cancer, then that’s when the shift occurs from Knowing Better to Doing Better, and that’s also when he’ll ‘get it’.

I believe this is what Kathy means by ‘getting it’ – - when one wholly understands the essence of something.  In this case, when my son ‘gets it’, he’ll Let Go, realizing it doesn’t matter and therefore he cannot be impacted by others’ words.

The thing is, for each example you come up with, there may be a myriad of contributing factors: addiction, peer pressure, justice, etc.  The common denominator remains the same though:

I believe when you ‘get it’ you Let Go of assigning your stuff to it, whatever that stuff may be.  You come to Know, on a visceral level, that you are not what others are attempting to cast upon you.

I heard it said this way last week from a woman named Rita, “I no longer think that it’s possible that other people can hurt me.  They’re just giving me their observation and I’m giving it meaning.  And so I get to choose what that meaning is.”

Yeah, I think Rita ‘gets it’.  You get to choose what that meaning is.

And by the way, I think ‘getting it’ goes hand in hand with Trust.

Thank you for the question, Kathy.  Please keep them coming!!  It’s through our sharing, that we continue to learn and grow.

Knowing Better and Doing Better

In my last article, “JOY and SORE,” I wrote of the joy I felt deep down inside.  It was a joy that had been going on for several days.  That joyous feeling came to a train-wreck sort of a halt when I picked up the phone later that afternoon to hear that one of my sons was in the principal’s office.

As my son came home later that afternoon, he wouldn’t look me in the eyes, too ashamed of his actions.  No doubt he already had some idea of the impact his actions had had.  I felt sad and disappointed and he knew it.

The next morning, I decided he and I would watch some of Oprah’s LifeClass series on her new network OWN.  We watched a beautiful show on Finding Your Purpose.  We engaged in dialogue about what he truly loves to do and what brings him joy.

We followed that show by another LifeClass where the lesson being taught was, “When You Know Better, You Do Better.”  We sat and watched in silence, both sipping our tea.

When the show had ended, he was very clear on the message.  We discussed it at length and it was apparent that he felt truly penitent.

Later that day I wondered something.  Clearly, he already knew better.  If he hadn’t known better, he wouldn’t have exhibited the shame he did.  He wouldn’t have cried what I’d call ‘sorrowful tears that stung’.  He would have justified and made excuses.  But the thing is, he did know better.  Yet, he chose not to do better.

So here’s what I wondered: “Why, when we know better, do we at times choose not to do better?  Why do we repeat actions that we know to be unloving, forging ahead anyway?”

I believe there are many reasons why we do this, each different depending on the circumstance.  But in time, my hope is that we lessen the frequency of these blunders.  That we learn along the way and continue to grow from such experiences.

As much as I wanted to dole out severe consequences, I sat back and looked at the bigger picture, at what I know to be true.  I know him.  He is a good kid who made a poor choice, and truly felt remorseful.  This was not a repeat of some prior action.  So why pour salt on the wound?  He felt badly enough all on his own.  (That’s not to say he didn’t have certain privileges taken away; I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if he didn’t.)

Knowing Better and Doing Better.  Sometimes it takes a few go’s before we get it right.  But if you Trust, Trust that there is a bigger picture, a bigger Knowing driving what IS, I believe you’d concur we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be on our path.

It’s that Trust that gives me comfort.  It’s that Trust that I hope gives you comfort.  And although my son is young, and perhaps doesn’t yet have the maturity to fully understand the concept, I hope that in time he comes to feel that same Trust.

Trust on that level is Freeing.

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Yesterday when my husband came home from work, he told me that Steve Jobs had passed away.  He figured I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch the news.  I don’t follow the Who’s-Who or the What’s-What, but I do follow quotes.  And every single quote I’ve ever read by Steve Jobs I remember liking.  It was actually his name that I ran across more than any other when I first started studying about Trust.  That alone intrigued me at the time.  Not LaoTzu?  Not Buddha?  Nope.  Steve Jobs.  Perhaps it was the material I was reading, but I seem to recall pulling pieces from all over the place, not one place in particular, and his name continued to appear.

It was during that time that I read his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.  This morning in my inbox, a girlfriend sent me the same commencement address on YouTube, stating that, “Trust Life rings from his message.”  I believe she’s right.  And looking back, I remember really digging his whole philosophy on “Connecting Dots”.  In fact, I wrapped up my “Serendipity and the Law of Threes” article with a seed Steve Jobs had planted in my mind years ago and I have since allowed to grow.

Steve Jobs on connecting dots:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

You have to trust in something…  your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.

And that will make all the difference.”

~ Steve Jobs

I realize many of us lead these crazy, busy lives and 15 minutes may seem way too long to watch a YouTube video, but I promise you, it’s well worth it.  Even if you’ve read his speech in the past, there’s nothing like watching Steve Jobs tell these three unique and powerful stories.  I highly encourage you to watch it, even if you have to give yourself some sort of reminder and do it later.  You will not regret it.

Thank you, Christy, for sending me this video and in doing so, reminding me to pause for a moment and reflect, to truly acknowledge the role of such an inspirational icon and fellow human being.

Wilted and Parched

I spent the most relaxing weekend in Austin with a girlfriend.  No kids, no schedule, no demands, no nothin’.

When I arrived on Friday, my friend was bringing a plant back to life.  As she gingerly placed it in the sink, she called me over to look at its sad, sad state, wilted and parched.  As she drenched it in water, she was quite convinced that it would revive and resume its beautiful state.

I had my doubts.  (A few hours later, she had her doubts, too.)

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt wilted and parched.  As if no amount of rest or sleep could plump my skin or satisfy my thirst.

During my teens and 20’s I didn’t even realize when I was feeling depleted.    So I would just plow on.  And the more I pushed through, ignoring the warning signs my body was giving me, the more depleted I became, until finally I’d come down with a cold or strep throat or something that forced me into bed to rest.  I remember one time, I had neglected myself so, that my husband took me to the hospital, only for them to hook me up to an IV; I was severely dehydrated.

Our immune systems become weak the more we tax them.  Lack of sleep, an improper diet, as well as repeatedly exposing ourselves to negative thoughts, all have an impact on our physical bodies.

Wilted and parched.

The answer was so simple:  Stop.  Rest.  Drink some water.  Engage in activities that fed my spirit.  And although the answer was simple, I’m embarrassed to say it took me years to learn the lesson Life kept trying to teach me.

I must confess, lately I’ve been feeling wilted and parched.  I’ve sensed the slowly rising need to recharge my battery.  Hence, my weekend trip to Austin.  I was the wilted and parched plant.

It’s incredible what a weekend of Amy’s Ice Cream, sipping tea and chatting, carnitas, zero demands of me or my time, and a pitcher of sangria on a HOT July afternoon can do.

On a similar hot July day, seventeen years ago, my mother-in-law pulled me aside on her deck and shared this bit of advice with me, “Make sure things are right with Mommy first.  If things are right with Mommy, things will be right in your house.”

And although I wasn’t a mommy yet, I knew what she meant.  I saw the ‘house‘ she referred to as something both concrete, the traditional noun picture of a house, but also an intangible house, more like the temple where body and spirit reside.

As I sit here typing, sipping tea, my friend still peacefully sleeping, I look over at the plant.  Although it took several more hours to revive than my friend had anticipated, it has, indeed perked back to life.  It was sorely wilted and parched.

This weekend with Kelli has been wonderful.  I laughed so hard yesterday, I had tears streaming down my face – - on two separate occasions!!  And no, this was not even remotely close to when the sangria was being consumed.

This weekend has been a nice kick start.  But like the plant, who took easily twice as long to perk up this time around, I have more replenishing to do.  These next several months I’ve decided to dedicate to feeding my spirit.  To healing.  I’m embarking on a new chapter in my life, one which is sure to be filled with many new life experiences and lessons.  And although it’s with a slight hint of reservation, my gut is urging me to share these upcoming experiences and lessons with you.

So, I thank you in advance, for embracing my writing and allowing me to share with you.  It’s through your encouragement of my writing that I continue to learn and grow, and for that, I am very grateful.