The Courage To Be - The Simple Truth
"Dear Ann. This is a letter. Love, Freda"
The letter's significance
What an inspired letter it was, too! She had been trying to explain a simple concept and I had been coming back with pages of words (handwritten, of course!) and ample logic why not. So, in that simple letter, she demonstrated her premise without even trying again to explain it - and it left me muttering to myself.
But in so doing, she awakened my ability to see THROUGH to the concept and to internalize it for myself almost without resistance, and perhaps, eventually to be able to explain it with clarity and in words.
But I was to learn fully that this is true: "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." I wish I could remember who coined that wise adage.
Freda’s wasn't a trivial concept. In its utter simplicity, it was profound. She had observed that I was immersed in and strangling by a hopeless situation and that I was supporting my idiocy by rationalizing it and intellectualizing everything else.
She'd tried to point out basic facts that I'd chosen to ignore. But still I managed to avoid facing them. no matter what she tried to show me as alternatives. I just didn't get it. . If anything, I seemed more adamant in my efforts to jusify and rationalize my bad choice and its progressively more futile consequences.
Freda always kept her letters simple. She often wrote only a sentence or two on a page in a large free script and her letters were usually no more than six or seven pages of these cursory, poster-like sentences, written on small-size plain paper which seemed to bear the scent of tranquility. So she had been demonstrating from where she was coming all along. I'd been upset by the reminder of the gap between there and where I was and a bit terrified of opening the can of worms on which my precarious position balanced, at the expense of my being integrated. It was frightening.
A Glimmer of Light
Finally, though she found a way to bring a pause to my headlong plunge through and into a sticky oblivion and to get her message across to light an awareness I had not stumbled across in my much reading - up till then - or in my own mind despite its mental gymnastics and natural preference for simplicity.
I began to let go of the frantic scramble to think it through and as I began to simply look at the concepts in action in her letter, by which she kindly and mercifully ruled out opportunities to come back with the usual outpouring of rationalizations, it produced a quietude which allowed me to internalize principles rather than to analyze them as ideas. Then, as they always must, they had a chance of becoming my own, appropriately altered to "fit" me. They could use all my feelings and instincts properly.
At first I resisted - but - resisted what? She offered me nothing TO resist. I began to relax and to feel the flow she referred to, an inner peace and quiet where wisdom rules rather than intelligence or vocabulary.
Freda did not try to impose her philosophy on me but she simply allowed it to be seen and responded to as fit so that I could find my own inner guide and learn to trust and assert it appropriately.
She demonstrated how much she cared with her almost zen-like masterful stroke. As if she pointed at a frog and declared - SEE! in response to my questions about what matters. I had little choice but to begin to unravel my own traps and to SEE for myself - with clarity and understanding.
I think it was along about that time that I wrote:
Try to not make
Out of another's
And let him
What it is.
I always could put into fewer poetic words a thought which I would ramble on about for chapters in prose!
Freda's concept was to FEEL what one truly feels and experiences and to SEE what is is really happening externally around one IN THE PRESENT.
Meanwhile, I kept on describing what I was trying to see through blinders and what I had read as if it were my authentic feelings. Yes, I know. Sounds confusing. perhaps unnecessarily so. Well - that's because confusing is what it IS so long as we deny our internal feelings and the wisdom of our bodies and so long as we let ourselves be lost in over-thinking, analyzing, anger and trusting external things while replaying the past over and over.
But Freda didn't explain her concepts in so many words. She simply demonstrated them and let me see for myself. Inspired!! Also she didn't give up on me. Courageous!
Denying one's truth is emotional suicide. I shudder to think what might have become of me had it not been for Freda's wise perception and counsel.
Kahlil Gibran: On Giving
- click -> Gibran - On Giving
The truest spirit of giving, by Kahlil Gibran in "The Prophet"
So What's In A Name?
Incidentally, about "Ann" in the greeting of her letter: I'd allowed others to choose my name from among the possibilities of my given name since I could remember. I wonder who I thought of myself as being during those years! I finally recognized this as being a part of the separation from myself which had been slowly progressing far too long. I'd allowed it, though, so I realized I had the power - the sole power - to change it.
I was born Nellie Anna, which gradually became Nellie. Then it became Nell, though eventually I did manage to impose on it Nell Ann, in a feeble grope for identity at one point. That was a time when my designing talent had blossomed and I was being recognized for it. I chose as my design name NELAN. It was a brave front. I was whistling in the dark.
Before long I was renamed Ann because someone incidental in my life decided that Nell was too corny and countrified. I merely shrugged and accepted it..
Ann stuck a long while and was it the furthest from the real name I had. At that point, I’d virtually been totally separated from my birth name And it persisted - and I allowed it to - all during the most difficult 20 or so years of my life and beyond, in which many other landmarks of my identity were being diminished without my firm assertion to reclaim my SELF.
Then some kind soul decided to rename me again. He thought he was exalting me when he would introduce me with a grand flourish in which one could almost hear the drum roll:
"And HE-E-ERE izzzz MY-Y-Y-Y ANNIE!!" Ta-da-da-da--da-DA!!
Annie. I'd never have chosen to be called Annie in a million years.. I didn’t like it. My Aunt Annie Laurie was beloved but not a shining example which I would have chosen either to emulate or as a namesake. My Aunts Nellie and Anna. for whom I was named, were both admirable women whose examples and light I was glad to embrace and to take as my own starting point. But it kept getting remade - and I kept allowing it to be!
I was extremely embarrassed by the grand flourish announcing me as someone else, a figment of someone's imagination, a "thing" or a possession. And being a shy, quiet person who was just beginning to break out of her shell to begin to feel entitled to her own personhood, it came as a deterrent at best. But it was well-meant (weren't they all?) and I tolerated it. Again, I failed to assert my basic responsibility and right to claim myself and to get on with growing up. And I was in my 40s! I very much needed to!
Well, I’d only just learned to drive!! I was still a mere neophyte due to my own lack of assertive backbone! And it would be several more years before I gathered my Courage To Be.
After graduating from that 6 year ‘education’, I resumed my original surname, for starters. But It would be another couple of years before I dumped “Ann’ and progressed to another step. Of course, the name issue was just the tip of the iceberg. My bootstraps neglect went much deeper.
Then I combined my original first and middle birth names into a single name in order to keep my original surname as a middle name. I had finally met and married an equal who had no need to possess or to take over. We both intended to respect our own and each other’s individuality and space, although we were physically inseparable. Fact is, I wouldn't have married then if he’d had other intentions, and I feel sure that neither would he, if I’d had other intentions. As it was, it was mutually supportive and encouraging, along with being fun and delightful.
The name thing was merely symbolic, I suppose. But as a major symbol, it played the part of a major step for me, the, first by laying claim to my name with any alterations being only those of my own choosing, rather than passively accepting whatever others deemed appropriate, even in the guise of "terms of endearment". And more, it was in taking full responsibility for all my past, present and further actions and their consequences. Until and unless one does that, the gains possible are extremely limited and the victim-mentality is highly likely to continue to undermine one’s full person-hood.
How much simpler it could have been to have started off free to BE and to be response-able! But in that case, perhaps its value wouldn’t have been so fully appreciated or – hopefully – as judiciously exercised.