"People aren't problems to solve. It's not my job to fix anyone, but to love them. The heart can stretch to hold things -- even the difficult things."
- Kate Bartollata
I have completed one month of my three month sabbatical. May 27th to June 27th went quickly and involved the daily challenge of finding inner stillness. Today is June 28th and I begin the second month sitting in a hotel room in Burlington, Vermont - a remarkably beautiful city that feels fresh and artsy. The sunsets are spectacular here! Stillness remains somewhat illusive, however... revealing itself - and then disappearing as suddenly as it came.
In questioning how it is that my stillness unravels, I recognize that I jump into "Hero mode" too quickly. Any problem that occurs around me has an impact so forceful that my entire being is moved into action. It might be an issue a friend is having, something affecting one of my children, or even a global justice topic in the newspaper. No matter what it is, I am becoming aware that when something concerning comes up, my mind begins to search for an answer, my muscles tense and prepare to "do" - and my entire nature shifts from still - to not still. My immediate response is to look for a solution to the anxiety I feel. If I can fix whatever the issue is - or take some type of action - I feel better. I feel "worthy." Worthy of what? Hmmm...love...oxygen...I don't really know - but action resolves the anxiety and I feel empowered.
I'm realizing that I see it all (and I mean nearly everything) as mine to address. Every problem requires my attention. I wonder how I got that idea. "People are not problems to solve." People are independent Beings with their own free will - and the problems that occur for them are their learning opportunities, not mine. A Native Elder once told me " the only sin is to steal another's lesson." "Fixing" then, is the same as stealing. It benefits me by making me feel like a Hero - and can stop another from learning what is theirs to learn.
The thing is, I like being the Hero who can make things better. I like feeling powerful enough to leap tall buildings in a single bound in order to make the world a better place for those I love. But people are not problems to solve. People are independent beings with their own free will - and they are more capable than anyone else of fixing whatever is broken in their lives. And. when they do - they are the ones who feel empowered - which is how it should be.
Each person we encounter is a gift in our lives. Each one provides us with an opportunity to give and receive love. That is what we are here to do. And when we give and receive love, that LOVE has a way of making things better. Loving is the most heroic thing we can do.