Quest

roadGood morning! A lovely morning this. Storms later.

Over the weekend we watched aghast as the turmoil that is the Middle East erupted into  unimaginable violence. It was as though a great storm of hatred and greed slammed into that part of the world, and no one in ether government cared about the impacts on the everyday people whose lives were placed in turmoil, or taken. Sadly, the harm caused will likely last several generations.

Yesterday I went to a meeting with a medical specialist. His office is maybe two miles from our home. I had struggled some to get an appointment, and had to drag myself to it, having mixed feelings about the entire venture. As it turned out, there was no parking, except for a solitary Disability slot, which happened to be occupied by a maintenance truck. I ended up parking about a block away, and making my way down a short, steep hill in the heat and humidity. I knew full well I would later be forced to climb up that hill.

When I arrived, a woman was sitting in the waiting area, filling out the inevitable forms. The reception area was not easy to locate so I asked her where I might find it. Having retrieved my forms, I returned to the waiting area and took the only available seat, next to the woman. She looked up, then returning to her forms, and said, “My friend drove me the two hours from my home to here. She went off to do an errand. The people here in this office told me I don’t have an appointment. It wasn’t logged into the system and they are filled this afternoon. I’ll have to come back.”

It was clear that movement was difficult for her. I thought about my proximity to the clinic, my resistance to being there, and the woman’s long, probably painful drive. She phoned her friend and explained the situation. I felt conflicted. The receptionist came and fetched me. My appointment took ten minutes. When I came out the waiting room was empty.

Later, I told my wife about the disorganization of the office, and the plight of the woman. As soon as I did this, I was flooded with remorse. I realized the woman was in much more distress than me, and I live quite close by and can drive myself around. Sure, it was a major production to get an appointment and force myself to go, but we are speaking about an hour of inconvenience rather than a day.

I was caught up in a stormy debate between mind and heart. Each had their reasoning, values, and needs, and they were in deep conflict. From my mind’s point of view I had done the expedient thing, considering I might not be able to force myself to come again. My heart-felt otherwise.

This morning we seem to arrived at a truce, both sides more or less aligned and committed to doing things differently next time. There is no way to undo what was done. Probably, the harm will be fleeting, although harm non the less. Being human is demanding and there is often no obviously correct path.  In walking the road I chose, I learned something valuable. It was a good road, although now I imagine the other would have been preferable.

Many years ago, as a young man, I took Bodhisattva vows. At the time the task of living up to those vows seemed noble and honorable, a great and virtuous quest. From where I stand now, the task seems simply very human. We are learning as we go along the road.

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11 thoughts on “Quest

  1. Thank you for sharing this example…we are all constantly making such decisions in our daily lives and it is good if we can at least review and learn when we believe we might have been more skilful.

  2. I think that hindsight often shows us how we could have been more compassionate toward another but it is wise to turn that compassion toward ourselves also. Just not to forget to forgive yourself always.

  3. Very thoughtful and honest, Michael. I still carry a regret like that from the 1960’s. It has been a painful yet valuable reminder to me when I run into similar situations. Not that I always choose the better path!

  4. The struggle between self-interest and kindness to others is not always resolved with a win-win situation, as much as we may want that to be the case.
    How much I wished there could be a win-win for Palestianians and Israelis. What a nightmare and, yes, I was thinking the same thing: the current trauma will be passed down for generations to come, a never-ending cycle, it seems.

    • Yes, we can view this struggle each day in our lives and in the lives of others. The disaster unfolding in Palestine will be with us for many generations, just as the Holocaust continues to haunt the world. Indigenous people everywhere live with this knowing. The ancestors speak to each of us, so often they need healing.

  5. Hi Michael. I can definitely empathize with the decision you made…but don’t be so hard on yourself. I believe that what is supposed to happen … does happen. Maybe that woman would not have gotten all that she needed from the appointment being in the state she was in…you never know. I agree that because it bothered you, you will learn from it and if something like it happens again you will probably do it differently. And if you do…then …everything happens the way it is supposed to 🙂 Love to you!

    • Thanks, Lorrie. I do wonder whether I would do it differently a second time. Complex issues.
      I’ve had the experience of knowing everything was happening as it was supposed to. I’ve also had the experience of knowing things could unfurl differently. I suspect the truth is too complex for me to grasp.

      • I understand completely. ..but there has to be communication with your intuitive self…and maybe that is where the conflict came from. I spent many years ignoring my “gut”…I have since tried very hard to honor that sacred place …and nothing bothers me more than when I do not honor what my instincts tell me. Hope you find the answers… ❤

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