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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Could Vs. Should


As I reflect on the progression of my calling to teach, as well as this present call that I answer, I am reminded of a time, early on in my career, when I actually thought that children “should” behave a certain way and that children “should” be at a certain developmental milestone at a particular time on a particular schedule. I now believe that should, is one of the most destructive words in our vocabulary. It denotes that something is amiss or wrong. I once had puzzled thoughts like, she should know her alphabet by now - or he should be able to tie his shoes by now.
I no longer wonder why I thought in this way, but have in its place, enveloped a new way.
If we, instead, consider that these developmental milestones are simply guidelines, we begin to open up to genuinely honouring each child for their uniqueness and we in turn, create and discover ways to reach and teach each individual. If we replace “should” with “could”, we are open to many more possibilities with not only our wee ones, but with everyone we come into relationship with.
She could learn her alphabet if…
He could tie his shoes if…
She could understand this if…
He could choose differently if…
Could, takes the pressure off and we are then never in a battle between right and wrong – instead everything just...is, (Inspired by the teachings of Louise Hay) and in the same way, we then take ownership in the relationship even if that relationship is with our own self.
The paper book that I am reading right now is The Call by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to read about another one of her books, The Invitation. I thank Annie for this passage from Oriah.
The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

This is The Invitation, however at this moment in time, I look towards The Call and what I have presently decided to honour, which is my life as a writer. When I sit down at my desk to write each day, I do so from my heart but also from somewhere else deep inside of me. From a place that I did not know existed. There are times I am quite surprised by the words that emerge on the paper before me. These words leave me raw and vulnerable and I wonder if they are the coulds inside of me that have been waiting to burst forth. Maybe for far too long now, I have trapped myself by the shoulds of life.
What should a good daughter write about?
What should a good partner say or not say?
I will instead, let myself be inspired by an old friend who recently told me that he is celebrating sixteen years of sobriety and now knows that he can do anything, by a close friend who knows who she is on this earth and dares to be that person in utmost “Beauty even when it is not pretty” (Oriah Mountain Dreamer) and by my partner who chose to stay with me while I unraveled in the shoulds of my life so that we could build once again. It is in these coulds that I am grateful to reside.
What could you do, if you threw away the word should?

…Ellyn
Just Me and B!