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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Broken Agreements

I feel totally untethered these days.  Walking around that abyss again.  Trying not to think about the emptiness, much of which I have created (is it possible to create emptiness?  I guess so).   I remember 25 years ago when I did the est training (called something else now and was very useful to me at the time) they said that our lives are empty and meaningless and it is up to us to fill it up.  I guess that makes sense!  It sounds so despairing when one says “empty and meaningless” but it really isn’t.
I remember something else to, something that kind of startled me but after a while, I “got” that too.  First a little background.  The est training took place over two weekends with one evening session in between.  They had all these bizarre rules (the world has changed much since then, and I hear they aren’t nearly as truculent) including taking our watches or any timepieces, not letting us go to the restroom except on breaks (or with a note from your doc if you had a medical issue) and some other ones I don’t recall.  Looking back, I have to laugh a bit, but my whole family did it eventually and I think we all got something out of it.  There was tons and tons of information to process and a lot of stuff about making and keeping agreements.  And lots of other sessions after, if you wanted.  Like “Relationships”, etc.
Anyway,  I met this woman the first weekend who was really fun and interesting to talk with.  A few of us had lunch together, her included, and I spoke with her on the evening session too.  On the second weekend (there were almost 200 of us) one of the “supporters” passed a note to the facilitator (I volunteered doing support work for over a year after that event).  He stopped what he was talking about and announced that this woman (whose name was also Sherri, which is why I remember this so clearly) was killed in a car accident on the way to the event, so she would not be keeping her agreement.  I gasped, as did everyone else.  Firstly, at her death, secondly, at the ‘broken agreement’ comment.
No one said a word for a while and the facilitator moved on.  Mortified, I finally raised my hand.  When he acknowledge me I expressed my displeasure and anger at what he had said about her.  How could this be a ‘broken agreement?” I sputtered.  Everyone seemed relieved that someone finally spoke up….lots of mumbling about it.  The facilitator took a few moments to explain why he said it, and that he knew it sounded harsh.  But the bottom line was that she would not be coming back, hence the agreement was broken.  Not by choice.  Not on purpose.  Not to be interpreted as something negative, which is where the mind goes when someone says what he said.  But a broken agreement.  Period.
And something amazing started to happen in my brain.  I got it.  I really did.  We put so much negativity (or the opposite) in people’s words, never thinking about the simplicity of words or just the literal meaning.  No interpretation, just the facts.  She was not coming back.  The agreement was broken.  But broken agreements are not necessarily negative things so long as you have an explanation that is acceptable and if you can, do the breaking in advance.  Or if, like in this case, you are dead.
So accept the simple explanations and try not to interpret or judge, if possible.  Life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?  Emails are the worst with regard to interpretation issues.  You don’t see the person’s face, you don’t hear their voice, you just read their words.  And words, as we know, can be very difficult to understand in any language.

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