Stick to the basics

Bagdad, Iraq.

I have many things to tell but not so much time. Let’s see how to start.

Yesterday was a rough day. Although I went to bed in a really good mood the night before, after being able to help somebody find some closure of a painful episode in her life using Whatsap (I kid you not) I woke up with a lump in my stomach. I tried to escape the upcoming pain by going back to sleep but I only postponed it.

I had scheduled a Skype meeting with a friend who I met in Israel who works as a healer. I thought I needed healing. He advised me to let her know how I feel. Now this was an obvious one. The underlying advice was actually quite a good one: he told me that every time he mixed the roles of teacher and boyfriend he landed on his ass. He had learned that the best way to prevent that was to just express his feelings. Nothing more, nothing less.

It is good to hear that out of somebody else’s mouth now and then. I did what he told me to do and I wrote an email. It was a rather emotional expedition. But I blurted everything out and I feel I was very honest. It is very difficult to open up to all the fears and desires when I feel that more rejection is an option but it did make me feel better. I didn’t want to email at first because I wanted to respect her but I realized that not telling her directly how I feel but writing about it here was kind of indirect. Also not writing her ‘out of respect’ is assuming I know what is best but actually just a strategy to not have to open up.

Anyway, when was contemplating the whole thing I asked myself why it was so painful. I realized that if the milkman had written me a similar email as I received from her I would just have frowned my eyebrows a bit. Then I saw something important. If it was the milkman I wouldn’t take it personal and I would be able to empathize and help him through because that is what I do. But if it is somebody I love and identify with (she is my girlfriend) and the subject is painful to me personally I get caught up in my own pain and drama. So I create not-listening, not-hearing and not-empathizing on crucial moments.

There was more. I also saw that as a guy who devoted his life to waking up and has worked through a lot of stuff I create a subtle layer of not-listening. Because when I listen to somebody I quickly form an idea about what is going on. Perhaps I’m often correct and can often be helpful. But in a relationship this permeates. I must be difficult to be with a guy who seems to listen extremely well and at the same time gives you the feeling he is not hearing everything (but he thinks he does).

For me it is an important lesson. In case of an exchange that I experience as painful I should not try to be wise or compassionate nor fall for the drama. I should not treat her like the milkman or a client. It is not my position to clarify anything. I should stick to the very basics; my feelings and nothing more and nothing less. In case of ‘regular’ communication with somebody I love; be mindful of the pitfall of not-listening. Stick to the basics. Nothing more, nothing less.

To see that either way the basics bring me home is humbling. I finally see the difference between a coach/ teacher and lover/ partner/. When a woman is married to a carpenter she doesn’t want him to be a carpenter all the time. And the carpenter should learn to trust that she didn’t choose him for his carpenting skills alone.

This insight showed me again the importance of very clean, unprejudiced listening. And to add another layer: I could then see how my ego wanted to congratulate itself with this insight and immediately wanted to solidify the newfound space.

This morning my head was spinning from all the new insights and my meditation was deep. Apart from all this personal stuff I had started to worry that my Iraqi friends had forgotten about me. I have been waiting in the hotel for 9 days and have no clue about the plans. Then my doorbell rang and the director of the NGO is at my doorstep. He told me I have to go to work. I said “What??”. I ask: “now?”. Yes now. At what time? At 10 o’ clock. I looked in my phone. It is 10.04. We squeezed ourselves through heavy traffic and innumerous security checkpoints and at 11.00 this morning I started my first workshop without a second of preparation. More about that in the next posts.

The soldiers in from of my hotel making themselves comfortable:

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