“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