Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kindly Reviews

By Christina Carson
I suppose you could say this blog grew out of an experience last evening when I spent a few minutes reading a friend’s blog on nasty book reviews, one directed at him in fact. Then I read through the exchange that followed the review on Amazon. All the while, I watched what went on inside of me as I read.

First there was the recognition that still makes me squirm, the memory of the extent of my own righteousness in my youth, for the reviewer was suffering from similar tendencies, which justify in the minds of the righteous all manner of insensitivity. What we don’t get in that moment is that we are responding from fear—fear of not being taken seriously, fear of not being recognized for our seeming greater insight, etcetera, and using the most readily available soul to blame it on. Fear is so integral to all of us, thanks to how we've been conditioned to understand the world, and few people ever tease it out enough to see how deeply it owns them and how unfounded it is.

I think back to my corporate consulting days where we really wanted to show people how possible it is to work together effectively, but were usually called in to end a war or take down conflict. I remember the first time I asked a group of upper management why there was so much fear about the project in question and was promptly told, “We’re not afraid.” I had to bite my tongue not to laugh, so instead I merely asked, “Then what’s all this fighting about?”
Toward the Center
We are creatures of possibilities so vast and so extraordinary that to get stuck on fear like a fly to flypaper is a terrible loss. We can, however, start wherever we find ourselves to take a different run at it. It’s not like if you missed the first 50 lessons of Life 101, it’s too late. All we need do is determine that in the next issue that assails us, we will get to the center of it, for there is only one center—period. That center is called the truth of things. Life lived rightly is not lived linearly. We have Newtonian science to thank for that silly notion. Rather, it’s like we were a big ball and as long as we travel a radial line to the center, we will have lived one moment truly.

There once was a student of meditation that was desperate to meditate more effectively. Every time he came into the presence of his teacher, he would ask the same question until the teacher was weary of seeing him. Having failed to impact the student with all the various explanations he’d offered, one day the teacher merely said, “You know that space between one thought and the next?” The student nodded his head eagerly. “Make it longer.”

So I say to us all, live one true moment. Feel its exquisite peace, its indescribable beauty, its total lack of fear. Then go for another one.

Then listen to Rumi from his poem Zero Circle:

…When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.

          Most anything said with a tad more kindness will be more instructive, more useful and more effective for everyone, for fear won’t be its motivation and Beauty will be its reward.

Take a step toward possibility and subscribe to this blog.

If you receive this via email and prefer to read it on line, click here.


  1. Do not fear...How right you are Christina! That is something I came across constantly in my work as an evaluation officer (I worked for the United Nations and was sent to third world countries to solve problems that stopped work on development and emergency aid projects - a fascinating job).

    My take is that to solve problems you have (1) to allay the fear and make it crystal clear that nobody is judging anybody; (2) get people to sit down around the same table and talk it out. All problems can be sorted out if people will talk to each other. So much is caused by misunderstanding, wrong interpretation, false assumptions, jumping to conclusions...

    But if you can revive people's commitments to a higher cause - make them see that it IS higher and worth fighting for - then you're half-way there. Within days, you'll see people pull up their sleeves and go back to work with renewed enthusiasm. When that happened, I felt I had done my work well and it was (for me) a great source of happiness and satisfaction...

    Because there are so many people out there in developing countries that are suffering unfairly from hunger, poverty, lack of work and disease, that anything that can be done to help them is simply...wonderful!

    But you're right, it does mean fighting fear!

    1. Yes, and isn't it interesting that the same results accrue. When we treat one another as if we truly matter, rather than being a source of fear, cooperation becomes a real possibility along with people getting better at what they do. I can feel your passion around such endeavors. That is what I feel too.

  2. I laughed aloud when I read - "make it longer" ... simple! Yes, we definitely must all learn how to replace fear with the Truth of the center of all things. Thanks for writing about this so well and so clearly my friend!

    1. I laughed at that too. The simplest answers belie the greatest the truth. Plus it was better than throttling the dear boy.

    2. I have to admit I had a tad of rapport with his frustration.:)