The Secret

The Stonehenge in England Photo Provided by Fotolia at MSN Clipart

The Stonehenge in England Photo Provided by Fotolia at MSN Clipart

 “We all sit around in a circle and suppose, while the secret sits in the center and knows” ~~ Robert Frost

I love this quote by Robert Frost and can relate in many circumstances. In fact, it’s probably what I’ve done most of my life, metaphorically ― analyze everything to death but would never get to the core.

Therein lies the frustration, when it seems the answers are right there ― so close you feel them. Only, you don’t know why you can’t see. Why you don’t understand and why it’s happening to me. Have you ever felt that way? 

At least, if we find ourselves supposing, we’ve arrived at a place where we’ve stopped long enough to notice something of value happening that requires my attention. We’re not just blowing through life.

A lot of times, this is not the case. Sometimes, it’s not until many years later, when we come upon another event demanding our attention, touching our lives that we look back and begin to put the pieces together. And still, maybe, it’s not until later in life we feel those moments are relative or important. I don’t know ― I just suppose.

What I have learned in all the analyzing and supposing is that more is going on than first appears. I’m better at getting out of my own way and allowing situations to develop, people to fully respond, circumstances to play out. Before, I thought others felt the same as I or that an event should turn out the way I had planned. When all this didn’t work out the way I supposed: drama. Then, the emotions would surface and the analyzing would begin.

Have you had a situation in your life, maybe in the workplace, where the relationship with your boss was somewhat edgy? Maybe, the conflicts you felt between you and him/her were occasionally uncomfortable but you had to stay because you needed the money. Most times, when things get uncomfortable, we usually bail depending on the situation. It’s easier that way rather than stay uncomfortable. I’m not talking about real conflict or abuse ― just personality differences.

I remember one of these situations many years ago in the late ‘60’s. I was newly married, not quite twenty and fairly new to an office position. I was working as a secretary for a former military man, a Chief of Police for an Army Corps of Engineers Bridge-Tunnel complex. He had a Lieutenant, Sergeant and almost a hundred Patrol Officers under him. His personality was strong and commanding ― mine was meek and quiet.

He wanted a memo typed, mimeographed (before copiers and word processors) and sent out to all his officers. At the bottom of each memo, he wanted his name and title stamped (individually with rubber stamp and ink pad).

I complied and was quite proud of myself how it turned out. I felt quite efficient that I had produced his 90+ clean and freshly stamped memos with his name and title in an appropriate amount of time. I took them in his office and went back to my desk waiting for his review and approval to send them out.

A few moments later he called, “Pat, come in here!” I went in and it began. He proceeded to rant and shout at how sloppy the memos were specifically his stamped name and title. I was totally shocked and taken back. I had never had anyone yell at me like that before, particularly in the workplace. But, he went on and proceeded to demonstrate how to rubber stamp a document rolling it from top to bottom with even distribution of ink and edges lined up.

I stood there still totally in shock, as I watched the scene unfold, and slowly felt my chin quiver and tears begin to form. Again, he shouted, “If this had happened five years ago, I would have told you to pack your things and leave!” He then abruptly dismissed me and told me to send them out as they were.

I went back and dropped the memos on my desk and swiftly left for the ladies’ room before I totally lost it. There were all sorts of emotions bombarding me from all directions and my mind was on overload. I stayed there for a few more minutes until I calmed down and felt quiet and then went back to my desk.

I sent out the memos and he never seemed to notice any turmoil. He just acted as if all was normal ― business as usual. It had been me that was turned upside down emotionally where he had never taken it personally or given it a second thought. It was my drama.

Over the 4 years I worked for him, I matured, learned patience and adapted to his strong personality and military approach and we built a great business repertoire and friendship. In fact, before my husband and I left for Colorado he wrote me an impressive letter of recommendation. Years later, when he was in Colorado for a National Police Officers’ Convention, he looked us up and took us out to dinner.

So, what is the secret in the middle? Millions of words and thousands of books have been written about human interaction by scientists, psychologists, philosophers, priests, presidents and monks to name a few and we still sit around and suppose.

I don’t know what the secret is but maybe, if we pause long enough to listen, we’ll hear the invisible, silent answer in the stillness of our hearts. Maybe you have some stories of your own you would share and what secrets you have learned.

Pat from the ol’ kitchen table

15 thoughts on “The Secret

  1. Another great story Pat! I could feel all the emotions you went through…isn’t it wonderful to look back on those difficult times and see how much you have grown? Your boss was obviously used to dealing with men and not emotional women…however, even though the relationship between you grew and improved, he could have handled it differently. I recall one time when a publisher told me on the telephone that I could not write…that I’d never be a writer. I was so hurt…for about ten minutes…and then I decided to show him! I went on to become a speech writer for cabinet ministers and even did a writing assignment for the Queen of England when she toured Canada! I have often thought about sending the publisher a note and thanking him for making me so angry that I became a successful writer!! He was absolutely right…that first novel was horrible and I am so thankful that it never got published. Now when I look back on that experience, I am grateful for his criticism…I did tell him on the telephone that he could have handled it differently…that he didn’t have to be so nasty about it!

    • Thank you Bev for such a wonderful story and I’m happy you could relate. I’m sure in reading your account that you understand, when I say, I can still feel how raw those feelings were, as I wrote it. Many things transpired between us since that initial drama and I had a good relationship with him. Any unresolved issues I may have had were gone. Many years have now gone since he has passed so that window is closed if I even felt the need to bring it up. Now, when I think of him it’s only with nice, warm genuine memories. 🙂

    • Bev – I thought more about your story and, though I wasn’t motivated in the same way as you, it did reinforce my work ethic in the years to come, especially in the attention to detail.

      Your story showed me that in the most difficult times we never know what path it will launch us onto, though it’s hard to see at the time. I’m proud of you and impressed with your accomplishments, my friend, and I’m glad you were motivated to become a writer. Look at what we would all be missing. 🙂

  2. I loved your story. This brought back some memories. The first time something like that happens, it feels like the earth is ending and all will never be the same. As time goes by, experiences teaches us that everyone is different and patience is truly a virtue. You did well. 🙂

    • Thank you Susan and I’m happy you enjoyed the read and could relate to it. It’s funny, when you look back at incidents like these, it almost transports you back in time. In writing this, I almost felt as if it just happened mixed with the feelings of the friendship and rapport we had established. It’s been many years since he passed and my memories of him are warm and genuine and not of this event.

  3. Another beautiful post, Pat. I think the beauty of life is to learn and grow from our mistakes. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

    Some situations, like yours, create a ‘drama’ because we take it personally, which it is personal, except we focus on that. Some situations make people blow up because of unresolved issues in their own lives.

    At my last job, I was hard to work with and for. I received a wonderful salary, which kept me from leaving the job I hated so much. I thought it was the job I was going to retire from. My anger there came from all sorts of places; unresolved personal issues, my bosses, the incompetence of the corporation, blatant favoritism, inexperienced management, etc. I wasn’t nice to work with and now, after having a different life and learning much about myself, I regret how I accepted the job. I’m very happy that I’m gone from there, but I did receive benefits, experience, and most of all, lessons. I’ve learned not to judge, and to remember that I don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life. If someone is rude or barks at me, I avoid getting angry, and know they’re dealing with their own inner turmoil.

    I’m a very different person from what I was 3 years ago. But that has been true my whole life. I’ve changed and grown through my life stages. I have forgiven regrets, and smile at the thought that I have regrets from the things I did, not from the things I didn’t do. I’m glad I got to the core of some things in my life.

    We live the best we can, and in the end, hope we leave with little regret.

    • Denise – I applaud you in what you’ve learned and the changes you’ve made. I am so proud that you’ve come through the fire and are much happier for doing so with little regrets. Isn’t that what life is all about? It definitely is not easy while we’re going through it but I think as humans we relate and feel what these conflicts are like and how we feel. In the fire, only we can make the choice where this will take us.

      I loved reading your story and the depth in which you noticed and took charge of your life. Thank you for sharing it, my friend, and in reading it I felt more connected with you than ever. 🙂

        • You’re welcome Denise. I love hearing all the stories in people’s lives. It has always fascinated me. I love sharing them too and I’m happy you enjoy what I write and keep coming back time and again.

  4. Hi Pat,
    This is such a nice post & I feel almost everyone will be able to see their own story hidden somewhere in this blog. The quotation and blog applies to most of us & this has in fact given me an idea to ponder over.
    Well, we all try to analyse and observe but yes, some hidden secrets are always left to be explore and many a times I feel how good it would have been if I can read through someone’s thoughts.
    About my own experience, I have had wonderful friends whom I never thought of as a friend unless they showed up when I really need them and also their had been times when I relied and trusted few close friends whom I later on discovered to be selfish and I have also. At workplace also, I recently went through a bad experience where my impression was spoiled because of carelessness of other team members. Actually, there are so many hard to digest instances around us, because we are probably not a that good observer & judge and of course as you say, there are probably some secrets that are not unfolded.
    Thanks you so much for sharing this wonderful post.
    Regards,
    Akanksha..

    • Akanksha – Thank you for stopping by. I enjoyed reading about your personal experience and how you can relate to my story. It all seems like a mystery to me. I suppose (there I go supposing) it’s the beauty and wonder of life: sweetness and drama, up’s and down’s.

      Each of us could write our own novel or play in how it unfolds with our interactions with one another. What’s probably most important is what’s happening in our hearts and what we take away from it. I hope in your reflections you can take away from it something special. 🙂

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