Monday, January 14, 2013

Embracing Ambivalence

Tunnel of live oak and Spanish moss  on the road to Savannah
Emails that go unanswered. Stains on the carpet that don't come out. 


With all the violence and pain in the world, these are insignificant problems by comparison. 

When your dog pees on the freshly cleaned carpet, it is annoying. I love my aging Airedale and she doesn't mean to do it, Goddess bless her. She's just old.

But when I'm feeling down, some of the little things, like unanswered emails, do bother me. And make me wonder about how I'm doing in the embracing ambivalence category. 

Lately there have been several emails I've sent out for important issues regarding both work and personal matters. And it seems like more than usual I've not heard back from folks. 

Yes, it makes me feel rejected. Some are work-related, like hearing back from editors or from someone I'm doing business with. I know people are busy.

But others are personal. After several attempts to contact someone, those long silences can make you feel sad. And sometimes small and insignificant. When I find myself staring down that road of feeling rejected, I switch on a default button that reminds me to focus on the good things. To focus on those people in my life who DO answer emails. Those loved ones who are always there, no matter what. This goes a long way to curing those blues. 

When I'm feeling down I like to read inspiring books. I just finished one with a very uplifting message that I'm still trying to absorb but that I highly recommend

Anyway I've often heard that learning to embrace ambivalence is a key to happiness in life. I am doing my best to understand this. And to remember to feel extra grateful for all my blessings, like seeing the sun rise over the ocean. This is guaranteed to put everything in perspective.

The next time I walk across the stain on my carpet, instead of becoming annoyed, I will stop and hug my 15 and 1/2 year old beloved pet. Someday she won't be around to pee on it and I'll miss her terribly. 


I wonder - How do you handle ambivalence?

29 comments:

  1. Well as the guy said:"Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't". Ambivalence is pat and parcel of daily life like partly cloudy or partly sunny days. It prevents boredom.
    Enjoy your old airedale while she is still around.
    Carpe diem!

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  2. Silence is particularly difficult because we travel in loops. We cast an emotional line -- which is also a neural line -- and it is very difficult to rest without echo, tug, completion of the circuit.

    I wonder, my dear friend, if transcendence is not facilitated by learning to stand on air.

    Look forward to more of your posts.

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    1. Completion of the circuit. I will noodle on that one for a while. Thank you my friend for this visual prompt. The notion of an uncompleted loop describes this perfectly - that expectation of a hoped-for synaptic click and feeling understandably unbalanced when it does not happen.

      Transcendence by learning to stand on air......does this come through refining and distilling our expectations down to their essence — which is being so fully present that we are able to perceive - in the way of an enlightened soul - all of life's ambiguities as a gift?

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  3. Ah, we're always tugging here and there,trying to clarify, finalize. I tend to worry also, and wish that the loop gets closed.I know full well i cannot control how others respond.

    When email and Facebook messages get ignored, and snail mail has no effect, the fault is in the system, a system that guarantees instant feedback. Let's step back and take a break from the system and go back to face to face meetings, with good friends, family,pets.



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    1. I think of this often, Rosaria, how social networks offer the positive aspect of the opportunity to connect. But social media have a very active shadow side that is often overlooked and not spoken of. The most obvious is when people are bullied online which has been very much in the media recently. But more subtle and not so often discussed is how things like Facebook create a window into another's life. More often than not people choose to portray their most attractive attributes to show to the world and the medium allows you to hide those attributes you do not like. This can happen in face to face meetings as well, but what is different about Facebook is people are peering into your virtual window 24/7. One is able to concretize the public perception of themselves and I wonder if this contributes to their tending to believe their own hype? If everyone peering in sees only the sparkly good things in someone's life, I fear this contributes to depression in those looking in, wondering if life is always better on the other side of the fence. Our world is ruled by perception and social networks are capitalizing on this. But what is this all doing to our souls?

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  4. I know what you mean. It's hard not to feel let down but, at the same time, no matter how much we need that life line we cast out, we cannot rely on others for our own contentment. i think that's something which comes from within. It's easier to preach than to practice, I know.

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    1. True. Amen to that Loree dear. And this is exceedingly difficult to do today with so much white noise around to distract us.

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  5. On the other side of things, I have a list of people I need to get back to and it makes me sad when I think about it and feel like I'm letting them down,but I try to remind myself that there are only so many hours in the day and I need to hope that they realize that they are still close to my heart even if I dont return a note right away.
    So today in a quick flash as I picked up my oldest from drama auditions the sun was going down and I was stopped at a light.The clouds hiding a sun that was going to bed but the reaching rays flying out and offering a gift to me,a moment of gratitude that reminded me that Grace was here and offering me a chance to regroup and focus.Yes,yes,I understand,I answered back.
    Everyday is full,every list is long,but like you said dear friend,we must look at the moments that matter and help to shape and define our lives.I must admit,there are days that creep in and ambivalence shadows my mind,I have one thing that always brings me back to the love I have in my life.I have a favorite movie and every time I watch it,I feel "reminded" ...it's "The Painted Veil"(with Ed Norton) and it's lovely and sad and moving and truthful.
    Be well my friend and if you ever want to email me and not get a response right away..heehee..catkerr92@gmail.com
    Of course you already know...you are in my heart.
    xo

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    1. I do believe that even without constant contact or that prompt response we hope for, that those who are connected in spirit and through heart are truly connected in the most fundamental of ways. This is a critical point and I thank you for sharing it here, Cat.

      I have long wanted to see that film. Now that you have recommended it I will not hesitate to put it on my Netflix queue.

      xoxo

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  6. i'm not sure i would ever go toward ambivalence. (do they really say this about happiness?) i accept that in all things polarities exist, but ambivalence seems...i'm not sure what it seems. rather what i try to do is to recognize that i know very little. my ignorance is immense. and we are all on our own journeys, none of us operating with the same motivations, the same schedules or the same abilities.

    why not blame your dog but blame your friends or co-workers? (heh, i mistyped dog as god.) we can't begin to imagine what another person's life is. truly, i'm a mess. ask my friends and family. i am incapable of doing what they would like of me, however it is not fault of theirs.

    oh, and also, while i don't find this particularly easy i know it is essential, i can not measure myself against the response of others. i can only measure myself - plain and simple, as myself.

    amanda, you know this stuff in your heart. you are good and you're desirable as a person, as a friend. their responses don't mean anything about you but only reflect something about them.

    love)))

    xo
    erin

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  7. oh, but how i cherish your unguarded honesty in this post.)))))) this must be said))

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    1. I can only measure myself.

      This is bedrock stuff, Erin. Thank you for bringing me back to it. As Loree says we cannot rely on others for our contentment and this is so true. But we are social creatures who derive pleasure from interaction. We are all in interrelationship in this earthly realm and I have no question that that interrelating extends beyond this realm as well as our understanding. Read anything about quantum mechanics and you will be convinced of that.

      When I feel rejected I am reminded that, in the end, the only person who can reject you is you. One of life's biggest lessons to learn. That, and allowing myself to be open enough to share what I worry is unattractive about myself. But doing it anyway.

      xxx

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  8. I also felt kind of upset lately-after having sent a lot of Christmas and NY wishes I got answers only from like let's say 1/3 - no time or just ignoring the othres?
    Blog about life and travelling
    Blog about cooking

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    1. Keep sending out your wishes of happiness to others dear Ola. I remind myself often that the gift is in the giving.

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  9. My first thought was god I hope I am not remiss in contacting you. I would not and never want you to feel less than because of my failure to act. The way I see it is that it is up to me to keep my promises and vows and in times when I don't may the reason never be casual neglect

    I don't know sbout embracing ambivalence , Amanda. I recognize when I am stuck on a dime, but when I waffle too long I end up with neither side of what I've been unsure about in the first place! Better for me to let good intentions have their way

    All this said, people disappoint me too. I've done a bit of housecleaning around this. And when I care, I try to repair any disappointment.

    Now that I've left this long comment I want to reread your post again.

    With love xo
    kj

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    1. No dear KJ, it is not you - I've always gotten a prompt reply to emails I've sent you and want you to know how much I appreciate that. The funny thing is - most of my family and closest friends and many of my professional peers DO get back to me promptly. What makes me wonder is: why do we focus on those who don't? That is something I'm going to work on in the New Year - learning to do what don Miguel Ruiz talks about in his book The Four Agreements: "Don't take anything personally."

      Thank you as always for your wise and heart-felt comments...
      xxx

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  10. I think Winter and Christmas are times when we often look inward and become retrospective. It's part of the renewing of our spirit. We ask a lot of ourselves, and need a hug. You are right though, we need to remember to treasure those who love us, and let life happen, or not. Spoil yourself a little, and spend time with that lovely dog now. Minerva ~ xx

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  11. I don't handle it well, but I've gotten a bit better at it. My closest group of girlfriends back home all have toddlers and babies, so they're busy, I get it, but it still hurts when I wait forever to get an email back or don't get one at all. I've been operating under the motto: 'assume everyone is doing the very best they can'. That helps a bit, but it still hurts, and it still sucks. x.

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    1. Your motto is very similar to don Miguel Ruiz's in his book The Four Agreements when he says 'Don't take anything personally' so you're way ahead of me on that one. But you're right, there are times when it's OK to say: it still sucks.

      xx

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  12. Dear Amanda....*Once Upon a Time*..it DID hurt me when I failed to receive a response, be it phone call or e-mail....but these days, I just let it go...as Sara Louise says" Assume everyone is doing the best they can"...it's the only assumption I make.

    Before I forget (been sick with the flu for 4 days...so my brain is...well....you know), I ADORE your new header! It's gorgeous.

    You comments about Mia made me cry.....I am going through this now with Bofie..and though we don't live together much of the year - I see him aging whenever I do see him. He's a year younger than Mia.... I know I may not see him again...we must treasure our Furry *kids*...they have given us so much love...no betrayals, no back stabbings - just pure love. The photo of you and Mia at the shore is just magical...it says it all.

    *Proof of Heaven* looks interesting....I think I will check it out.

    Sending you and Mia huge, warm hugs... one thing I know is that I am so happy we know each other... I treasure our friendship so much.

    Love, always,

    ♥ Robin ♥

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    1. thank you dear robin ~ i take this wisdom to heart and want you to know how much i treasure our friendship as well. so sorry to hear you've been sick with the flu no less.......yikes. hoping you are back on your feet and feeling yourself soon. many warm hugs back to you along with healing wishes ~ xxxx

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  13. Wise advice! I'm usually a glass half full as opposed to half empty but there are times when disappointments do make me dwell on what I don't have. I try to focus on the good stuff like my family, friends and blog buddies like you. Like you, reading can take me away from this world. Writing fiction is even better since I get to control the outcomes. I think the uncertainty, fate and luck in life can get to anyone. I love your beach walk photo with your dog - doing that cheers me up too. Big hug!

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    1. i like what you say about writing fiction and controlling the outcomes - i never thought about it that way... so now when i feel frustrated about a particular scene i'm working on, i will remember this and savor the opportunity to direct the ambivalence!

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  14. Dear Amanda, I always feel like we are on the same frequency - perhaps astrology is after all right and the same signs understand each other.
    I get it all, the sensitivity to rejection (I have written on several occasions to some blog friends that stopped blogging inquiring about their whereabouts and never heard back - yes I feel rejected and feel that the friendship I thought was significant meant nothing to them) . Likewise the irritation that can arise from the small things in a day and then the perceptivity to realize that the bigger picture is of much more importance. I rather spend a day with my lover than clean our house, I rather have a prolong dinner with my family than worry about the dishes.
    Have a great week ahead - I need to get that book.;)
    xoxo

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    1. zuzana, i'm so sorry to hear about your lost blog friends - that can feel so alienating - to be in touch with someone and then poof - they seem to disappear back into the ethers.

      the older i get the more i believe there is something to astrology - there is too much coincidence for it not to be feasible.

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  15. Lovely post ..beautiful words and writing..aww..sweet about your dog.
    Victoria

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  16. I find as that the older I get the more personally I take it when my mail is unanswered or even just feel slighted in any way. But, I hope wisely, I keep it to myself. I suspect your feelings of ambivalence is a requirement for your body and soul to readjust to life. We need those pauses at times.

    Warmest wishes.

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  17. pauses are good for the body so they must be good as well for the soul --- thanks for this thought, jerry, and for dropping by!

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