Sometimes The Lesson Isn’t Yours

One of my friends is anticipating the publication of her book, “The Poor Man’s Feast”.  I don’t have an advance copy, but I have advanced knowledge of the author – I’ve known her since she was one of my campers (the fact that we are now peers seems generationally impossible – and yet…).  If you ever need additional delight in your day, check out her blog of the same name.

Lissie’s book is an autobiographical account of her life with family, friends and food.  They are inextricably connected and her stories both amuse and intrigue; her recipes (some of which I have tried) are drool-worthy.  You would think that she would be reveling in the excitement of this achievement.  Certainly those of us who love her are celebrating her success with choruses of encouragement and congratulations.  And yet, Lissie has worries that are not hers to own.

Yesterday she wrote me about some recent familial experiences which have prompted anxiety about the anticipated reaction of some of her relatives to her book.  Although names have been changed and she has the talent to allow her voice to ring with sincerity and love, she is fretting about some of the less-than-kind comments that have come her way lately from some members of her tribe.  I think my response to her was incomplete, despite my efforts to be supportive.

Another friend of mine is trying to find her sea legs after being upended by the tragic impact of Hurricane Sandy.  The family business was seriously damaged, requiring too much negotiation through the bureaucratic nightmare that governmental agencies and insurance companies seem to require.  Perhaps perseverance is a an unwritten rule prior to receiving relief – they winnow out the weak who give up with resignation and despair.  Not Jo – give her a cause and she will rally passionately.  Which is all well and good unless your heart feels like it’s being cracked in the process.  And though the plant is officially up and running, the residual emotional exhaustion is a toll no one should have to pay.  You’d think high premiums and ridiculous deductibles would be enough, wouldn’t you?

And another friend who is self-employed, ponders daily about what she should be doing or could be doing to bring in more business.  How to effect a paradigm shift in companies who are holding onto stasis as a dog might covet a bone.  As she expends hour upon hour considering alternative and creative ways of changing mind-sets, she ends up questioning herself and works hard to avoid the temptation of an abyss of self-doubt.

What do these situations all have in common (other than my incredible love and respect for these women)?  The search for meaning.  The gnawing, relentless question of how to contort one’s self to fit into a current reality.  But what if these aren’t questions for us?  Perhaps these aren’t our lessons to learn, rather the lessons for those around us.  What if this is a lesson for Lissie’s family – to learn (or not) the ways we love and accept and delight in another’s gifts?  For others to learn the adverse impact that a non-stop revolving door has on customers who have placed their trust in your promised services?  And a company to learn that nothing from nothing really does leave nothing, and in order to thrive you have to change that which is obsolete and ineffective?

Sounds simple, but on a very fundamental level, I think it’s hard to grasp.  We choose to think that every lesson is for our edification.  And though I believe that we do ourselves a great injustice when we miss those instructive moments, I think we do ourselves an equally profound disservice by thinking that each life lesson is somehow karmically presented for us.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; sometimes an ‘a ha’ moment is designed for someone else and we are just bit players in their story.

Perhaps I write this because I so want my friends to be happy.  Because I think each of these women is so phenomenal and loving and talented and smart that nothing but joy should govern their days.  Maybe though it is a message for us all – the sacrilege of stating that not all of the universe’s intent is for our benefit.  And in those moments, when we accept with humility that it is about others, we can offer the greatest example of what we have already learned – to love.

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41 thoughts on “Sometimes The Lesson Isn’t Yours

  1. Have I mentioned lately how much I love you? How I love the way you read my heart, touch my soul and provide the words I so need to hear? Today, I am practicing breathing, working on those sea legs and embracing the gratitude I find in the simple words that mean so much – “to the moon and back. All there is”.

  2. it’s a hard lesson to learn that sometimes the lesson is not ours. i’m one of those that tends to take the weight of those i love, because, like you, i just want them to be happy. I also find that those like us, who do this, are also less likely to lean on our friends when we ourselves are in need of such love and support. i can honestly say, that since meeting you and this wonderful squad of wonder women, i’ve learned to lean and i’ve learned to accept that i can’t fix what is not mine to fix. i can only lend an ear, a shoulder, give a hug, and open my heart. so in fact…this lesson can be ours yes? xoxo

  3. I have told a friend, and more importantly, recently, that whatever is really none of my business. Yes, I want to change the world, but some things are just none of my business. Thank you!

  4. Ahh, my lovely friend, ya hit another one out of the park….. You are so, so right–it’s all too easy to get caught up in the “what’s this mean for me, what am I supposed to learn, see, do, take away?”. Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a step back, take a deep breath, and just “be.”. Thanks for this oh-so-valuable reminder, honey. Xoxoxo, l
         
    “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”. Morris Schwartz

    • I can say with full faith and knowledge that you my sweet have mastered the most important thing in life…As for the breathing reminders? That’s why I’m here. xoxox, m

  5. Our job, I think, is to shine and do the best we can, but we are not responsible for how others perceive us. And you’re right, Mimi. Sometimes the lesson isn’t ours. Thanks for the reminder, Mimi.
    Cathy

  6. What I write is how I see things if other members of my family get pissed off with my take on things then so be it, no I don’t like it when I have offended someone as that is never what I set out to do but at the same time how I see things are how I see things if that makes any sense it will not stop me from writing if you don’t like what I write don’t read it that simple………….

    • What matters is that it works for you. And for others, they agree in theory, but have spent years putting another strategy in play to keep family peace. Right or wrong..It’s the gloriousness of how different we are.

  7. I am so so quick to assume that at every turn, every challenge, is a teacher, waiting for me to sit up and pay attention and take in the lesson of the day; somehow that must make me feel better. But you have shown us a new way to see things, to perhaps let things happen around us, and not always assume what’s going on is about, or for us! Whew! Bravo! Fantastic post my friend, one that I will be pondering. Your friends, whom I am lucky to count myself among, are so very lucky. xoxo

    • I’m the lucky one honey – I really am…cherishing them is not a lesson I needed to learn, I already have that one down. And yes, I’m pondering this too – for I don’t have the answer but really do wonder about the possibility that sometimes there are other people in the universe who are learning as they go too..love and hugs, m

    • Exactly..and perhaps recognizing that we’re contorting ourselves in ways that are not necessary, ’cause it isn’t our gig. Accepting that sometimes it just doesn’t have to do with us, we’re players in someone else’s story. Our job, then is to play or parts well.

  8. This is a fitting post for me as my scrambled life is trying to find some meaning; and yet because I have had to spend so much time in my own healing, I have been unable to support those acquaintances around me who need help. Whereas before I could have lent a helping hand, this year I have had to let it go and focus on ‘me’ – probably for the first time in my entire life. There has been some guilt there and your post has been helpful to allow me to let this guilt side go. Yes, sometimes the lesson just is not ours. thanks for the post

  9. Pingback: 2012 The Last Post « A Western Buddhist's Travels

  10. I love this message. It turns a familiar conundrum–like best friend familiar–on its ass, now doen’it…maybe it’s for them to accept me. My family and Lissie’s sound “ishy”…

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