Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Accepting what cannot be Explained


These brief thoughts are my reflections on today’s brief listening session I had with my fifth year class on Anger and strategies to cope with it. There were only three 17 year old boys present. The other five or six students were training for a semi-final in Gaelic football to be played later this week.

However, with such a small group the sharing and the listening were both optimal. One boy especially, a lad who suffers from fibrosis of the kidneys gave free and vivid accounts of his anger. The others listened carefully and respectfully and added in their feelings on how they cope with their anger. Needless to say no judgements were made. No one is allowed to make any value judgements of others – standard ethical practice. One boy said he was happy in that he was listened to.

I wish here to say something about acceptance. One of my favourite plays of all time is Eugene O’Neill’s famous Long Day’s Journey into Night which tells the story of a/the classic dysfunctional family. I remember studying it at college and being deeply moved. One again it was my great former lecturer John Devitt who opened this wonderful play to my eyes and ears. I then remember being enthralled by the famous portrayal of this wonderful play on the screen, namely the 1962 film of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet which starred the marvellous Katherine Hepburn as the leading lady Mary Tyrone. Later I was to see a schoolteacher colleague of mine play the role the younger brother Edmund Tyrone. I digress too much. Words and lines and deep emotions evoked by this play still run around in my unconscious, along with the very famous and important quotation from Mary Tyrone, viz, “Let’s not try to understand what we cannot understand. Let us try to accept it…” These words might not be verbatim as it is years since I either saw or was at this play – nearly 30 years – but the reader will get the gist. The real rub in life is acceptance. Can I accept who I am? Can I really be true to Self? Can I be a really authentic human being? (Humanistic/Existential schools of therapy) Can I be congruent with my Self? (Rogers) Can I listen without value judgements? Can I listen without commenting in the negative?

Now I wish to finish this little post with the words of Jalaluddin Rumi, the 12th century mystic and poet. His words are always inspiring:

Pain only exists in resistance,
Joy exists only in acceptance.
Painful situations which you heartily accept become joyful.
Joyful situations which you do not accept become painful.
There is no such thing as a bad experience.
Bad experiences are simply the creations of your resistance to what is.

The above photo is one I took of my mother yesterday, Sunday 21 January 2007. She is now 89 and quite demented. She can sometimes remember my name and is very happy playing with her cuddly toy or teddy bear. Acceptance is a virtue I am constantly working towards!

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