I was freaked out and annoyed. She was overwhelmed and exasperated.I was entitled. She was bitchy. I was shocked. She was ashamed. I was gathering my courage. She apologized. And from there we fumbled, stumbled, listened, shared and rocked that conversations like a couple of adults who give a shit.
At the first stage of caring, it’s all about me. Selfish care. My wants, my needs, my view. Me me me. But before we point and scream ‘Narcissist!’…this stage of caring is crucial. It sets the foundation for the next stage of caring.
Us. Our Care. My family, my community, my country. My peeps, yo. What’s important to us matters, let’s take care of each other. We’re in a circle here, there’s an inside and and outside. What’s on the outside, we start to include and care for at the next stage…
All of Us. Universal Care. You, me, mine, yours, theirs, that little sentient being and the pulse of life and death surging through all of it. All of it matters, hearts pounding for all that has been and all that’s yet to come, grow little heart. Grow.
So I’m at my local Yoga studio, checking out the upcoming changes to the schedule and notice that my classes are no longer there. Monday and Wednesday at 1:15 have been high-jacked! At the bottom of the page it says ‘feedback welcome’.
First stage of care. I want my classes. Don’t take my classes. Who do I give feedback to? The woman coming around the corner looking like she’s just been beaten with the feedback stick. Before the content of my feedback leaves my mouth she says she doesn’t want to hear it, she’s not changing it.
Let the clumsiness begin!
Without going into all the details of what I thought she meant, what she really meant and how totally awkward the front desk of this typically lovely, calm and open studio suddenly felt…what happened next was not only our own stumbling through of a confrontational conversation…but stumbling up the stages of caring.
Poor woman had a lot to consider when designing this schedule. Second stage of caring. Caring about the studio, the numbers, class size, the students, Us. In the moment, after being barraged by feedback that her carefully considered schedule did not meet the needs of the very people she was caring about, she apparently dropped into the first stage of caring, protecting herself, in the moment, from yet another disgruntled practitioner.
I entered at the first stage of caring. Me and my classes. Upon seeing her frustration and receiving her reaction, I felt both offended and also compassionate. Second stage of caring. Here she apologizes. I acknowledge the complexity of who she’s trying to please. Through this conversation, something really starts to open up. We’re in the second stage of caring, on the same team. We’re an Us.
We’re not talking about the schedule any more. We’re not just having this conversation to sort it out between us. We’re not simply exchanging perspectives. We’re in a heart practice.Opening to the clumsiness of the moment, opening to our own reactions and contractions, opening to what gets to happen when we can, moment by moment, be awake and care for ourselves, one another and beyond, for the sake of something greater. In this spontaneous, inter-relational practice, we were moving towards the thirds stage of caring, both of us growing up right there with each other.
What starts to happen when we can still hold, but move beyond our own selfish wants? We care for each other. What happens when we can still hold each other, but move beyond our negotiations? Our caring moves outward, ripples, becomes about Caring itself, for the sake of All of Us.
We saw each other two days later, still buzzing. You’ve probably heard the expression that an organization is only as strong as its people. Good customer service can be taught. Full hearted, vulnerable humanity cannot. It can only be practiced. Too often we sacrifice heart for professionalism. We push our agenda, trying to look like we give a shit, instead of actually giving a shit. We avoid being clumsy in order to be in control.
Our practice doesn’t just happen on the mat. Every. Single. Moment. Each and every one is a moment that begs for us to be awake, that begs for us to expand, that begs for us to care. Our practice will never look perfect, we’ll be clumsy, maybe even rude. But when we keep showing up, ripping open our bloody hearts and sharing our humanity, perhaps we can continue to meet each other and give each other a boost and an embrace.
Thanks Andrea, for being a real practitioner. And a real Human.