Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: If It's Miffy, Let It Go

"I don't believe in pampering plants. If they are miffy, let them go."

~ Elizabeth Lawrence, The Southern Garden ~

There comes a point where it is time to let things go, when the season has come to turn it over. Not unlike a garden.

This past week I made a difficult decision. I've left the wat.

There are a couple of different reasons for it, none of them particularly important to anyone else. It largely seemed to be about timing. When I say I'll do something, I do it and when others don't work in a cooperative manner, don't do their parts, flake off, don't show up, don't call, don't follow through ~ I'm done. The important thing is that I did it with integrity, without judgment and with an explanation. I let them know that our styles are a mismatch, that momentum matters and that it has become increasingly difficult and frustrating to work with them. I own that. It's not about them. It's about me. It often felt like I was having to try too hard to make it work. It got to a point where I felt like I was having to chase, having to put up with things I wouldn't ordinarily put up with ~ all because I really wanted it to work. I wanted my community. When I jump into something, I do it with everything I've got and a wide open heart.

That's always a clue that something is wrong. When it begins to feel we're trying too hard, we are.

I have an inherent belief that things will flow in a natural way when it's meant to happen. We all have certain needs, especially the need for community, but that needs to be balanced against the energy and emotional investment we put into it. Again, that ugly word "reciprocity" comes into it.

That's a concept I struggle with. I know that giving without expectation or attachment is necessary for true happiness and contentment but I'm not there yet. Not completely. I'm not an arahant.. but just a very flawed human being who has a long way to go before enlightenment. Reciprocity feels like bartering, keeping score - all those things I don't like. Yet at some point, it becomes apparent that, to use another worn-out and not very pleasant economic analogy, Accounts Payable exceeds Accounts Received.

In this case, it was a pattern of behavior rather than an event. It became clear that it wasn't going to change because most of the people there are content with the way things are. That needs to be okay. I won't demonize them because they didn't behave or want the same things I wanted. Most of the people I met out there were very nice, kind and wonderful people. Those are the people who will still be a part of my life, however marginally.

They have had their patterns of a behavior as a community a long time before I came around. They've made peace with it. It works for them. It doesn't work for me.

This is hard, this search for the right spot ~ the place to belong and feel "a part of". Of course I have my life in Thailand but for now, I am here. My social needs don't go into suspension because I'm not in Thailand. When I do find my community here, it will probably happen quite by accident - and the pieces will fit the right way. Until then, maybe it's important to stick to the very worldly concept of reciprocity, looking for the balance, looking for the natural fit.



Rebecca said...

I know it must have been a difficult decision - or maybe not. In any case, I hope you find the community you crave and that it is a perfect fit.


Anonymous said...

That's too bad, but you're right that they've been that way for a while and they're comfortable with it.

I have a similar problem at my daughter's school. There is a LOT of volunteer parent activity (required), but as some kids go there for 8 years, and some families have more than one child, there are parents who are deep in the trenches and it's hard for new parents to be heard. Things need to change for the school to thrive, but... I know of two women I respect who pulled their kids out and left because they couldn't take the inertia. I'm going to try again this year, but it's especially hard because I don't want to jerk my kids around.

S said...

sorry that it didn't work out there, though you sound as if you're at peace with it.

"miffy" -- interesting word.

Olivia said...


I too wish for you to find a place of belonging before you leave for Thailand. (I wish the same for myself!) I appreciate what you shared about how you made your decision, as well as the example you set in how you live your life. Love, O xxoo

Woman in a Window said...

Such a good move. It wasn't sounding like it was a good fit. There seemed to be a lot of conflict there. When it's supposed to be a safe place that just compounds things. HOpe you find your good fit soon.

Brandi Reynolds said...

just honoring your choice

Anonymous said...

I think I realised your blog really too late, missing out on all the details...only today do I know you are NOT in your comfort where are you girl?

for someone who loves the life style of Thailand, personally, I find that person will have a hard time adjusting to other parts of the world....

I love Thailand and being able to make friends over there after frequent visits for more than a year, I've come to realise the ugliness that I have been living in for the past 30 years over here...

thailandchani said...

Rebecca, it wasn't an easy decision because now I feel like I have to start all over again somewhere else.

Not happy-making stuff but there wasn't an alternative in this case.


De, that kind of inertia is a dead-on statement that people don't really want change. Whether it's organizational or individual, it comes from the same root. (I know because I've done plenty of it, too. :)


Sarah, I'm at peace with it because I have to be. It's not something I can live with, as much as I hope to still have a friendly relationship with some of the people I met there, I can't help them any further because I can't do it all alone.


Olivia, the "shopping" aspect of finding community here in this culture thoroughly exhausts me. Right now, I have to evaluate whether I'm willing to subject myself to that any more. It might be that it will just be mighty lonely around these parts until I leave.

Not sure yet. The weird thing is that tomorrow I could meet someone who will set me off in an entirely new direction.

I'm just trying to stay open.


Erin, yes.. a lot of conflict and it was usually over silliness. Too much ego for a Buddhist organization, in my opinion. I got tired of stepping over the landmines of ego at every turn.


Brandi, thank you. :)


Angeline, I am in the US now.. in California. And, yes, I also have a very hard time feeling comfortable here. That's not to say that I don't value certain people I know here. I do. But my real community - the ones I can count on - is definitely in Thailand.


meno said...

I understand exactly what you mean and why you did what you did. It's supposed to be a place of comfort for you, not of frustration.

QT said...

There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad you remember that song? :)

Knowing how important balance is for you, I can't say I'm surprised, Chani.

thailandchani said...

Meno.. exactly. The thing is that I would have been happy there if I could have legitimately helped somehow. Then I'd feel okay about going there for my spiritual needs - but it began to feel icky.

I don't want to be someplace where I can't help and be a part of things.


QT, yes... balance is everything. While I am still here and some of my basic needs aren't being met, I have to be a bit more careful about using my energy in ways that deplete me. Maybe when I get "home", I won't have to be so relentless about balance.

I hope not.


painted maypole said...

it's a hard balance, true, but you do need to take care of yourself, as well

we_be_toys said...

I had a feeling this was going to happen, from some of the things you've written in the past about the wat and your struggles with it's members.
For what it's worth, I think we're on the same page - a community by definition indicates many people working together for the greater good. When the other members of a community don't pitch in and allow one or two memebers to carry the load, it's no longer a community- its a large party with one over worked waitress.
Reciprocity is not a bad word - it is the give and take of people who actually care about each other, and consider what they can do for each other.

PS - Hope you're on the mend!

thailandchani said...

PM, taking care of myself is something I do fairly well. I'll admit to becoming occasionally disappointed that I have to do it this way. It serves no one really. Not them. Not me. But there was no alternative that I could see.


Toys, you're right about reciprocity of course. It's something that should be organic, not something we have to measure. That's something I am only finding here. (Granted though, I haven't lived in a whole bunch of cultures - so I can't compare all of them. Just this one and Thai.) That natural cooperation has to be built into the social ethic, I suppose.

I don't know. I'm still sorting through all of it, too.




heartinsanfrancisco said...

Dissent and anger never belong in a place that is supposed to be sacred and healing.

I don't believe that community can be created by intention alone. There have to be like-mindedness, shared values and expectations among other things, and then people fit together as tightly as the pieces of a Chinese puzzle. Such sharing and closeness cannot be forced, but your intentions to help and support others are never wrong, and every attempt helps to clarify for yourself who you are and what you want to contribute to the world. (I think you're doing just fine, by the way.)

Jen said...

Finding balance can be very difficult, yet it's important in relationships. While it doesn't have to be pure give and take, when there's all give and no take, it can become wearing.

niobe said...

I've struggled with something a bit similar. I don't know what the right answer is for me. Though it sounds like you've found the right answer for you.

Amy Y said...

It sounds to me like you made the right decision!!

Community is SO important ~ but I think it must be the right type of community to make a positive impact in your life.

I know you've found it, in Thailand and one day you'll be there. But for now, keep searching until you find the right one here, too.