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24 hours of peace… and Lessons in Letting Go Part VII

Friday, September 21, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Car ornament, Ghor, 2007

21 September is International Peace Day. The United Nations has focused it's activities this year on Afghanistan. Shit – I just heard an enormous explosion. Perfect. It's the day of peace and I was about to write a post about all about peace and how it is not just a pretty word, how it is the result of a whole lot of hard work and the resolution of conflicts. About how the women who told us on Sunday that they would kill anyone who tried to take their land from them are not blood thirsty warriors but mothers and wives who know that without the land they all die anyway so they might as well fight for it. I had all sorts of thoughts about peace, development, security and human rights today. Instead I hear an enormous explosion.

While on the subject of peace, and my view that it cannot be expected to flower until fundamental human rights are respected and conflicts are resolved. Over at Laila's blog she posted this week about new restrictions placed on civilians in the Gaza Strip. Read it and weep. The PR term for these restrictions is apparently "civilian levers". Civilian levers? How can they say this stuff with a straight face?

For some reason the spin has always been what makes me the maddest. If you are going to cut off the water, fuel, food and electricity supply to men, women and children who are trying to live a life of some minimum quality under unbearable circumstances then at least have the balls to call a spade a spade. These are not "civilian levers" this is a classic, text book example of collective punishment, and there is a reason it is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions. Maybe we should suggest that someone sits down and watchs "The Pianist" to remind themselves of where, when, how and why the Geneva Conventions were developed.

Sigh.

Aside from rants, I'm so full of thoughts and ideas and inspiration today. I can't quite get it all into order in my head to share it here. So this may be a little disjointed.

The lessons in letting go continue. This past two weeks the key theme has been letting go of "unrelenting standards". It's a phrase I picked up on a pop-psychology magazine and I can't get it out of my head. I guess it spoke to me. Little by little and with many relapses I am learning to let go of standards that don't help me, standards that used to hold me back by telling me that everything I did should be done well.

This week I read Keri Smith's post about her dust bunnies and smiled in recognition. It is so good that as well as linking I'm going to go right ahead and quote her here.

my house is never as clean as I would like, but I much prefer to spend time writing reading and making things than cleaning. i keep it at a point which it doesn't depress me, tidy but a bit dusty.

these are truths that a few years ago I would not wanted to have anyone know about. I would try and make people think that everything was pretty and funky and well functioning all the time. I am perfect and you should want my life.

at some point i became extremely wary and suspicious of the notion that people teach in self-help books that we should all aspire to a fully self-actualized high functioning life. this life and all it's messiness is what makes life interesting and intensely creative. i think often that's how creativity arises, in having to deal with things in the moment. the fact that some plans you have don't work out the way you wanted or "planned" forces you into a new way of seeing and operating.

in need of fixing is a perfectly good place to be. at times this is exactly who I am. sometimes life is uncomfortable and I no longer feel the urge to run from that. most importantly i no longer feel the need to live up to someone else's ideal. i can breathe deeper because I am not spending any energy hiding the truth from people.

because everyone else is messy too and has dust bunnies in the corners of their rooms.
some just hide it better than others.

Amen, Keri. My new friend Swirly was full of the same brand of goodness and wisdom this week.

It seems my stranglehold on my own life, demanding only the very best at all times, may have taken a little too long to overcome under normal circumstances so I led myself to Afghanistan. Here, I couldn't pick one day when I measure up to the standards I once thought were inviolable.

I too now miss deadlines, and hand over papers that I once would have never allowed to see the light of day, I drop balls and fail over and over again and – lo and behold – through it all I am still making a positive difference. I am still doing a good job.

I miss yoga sessions and haven't been for a run in three months, I eat what I can get which is sometimes the kind of food I would never have allowed past my lips in a past life. Yet, my health is good, my body has not collapsed or transformed into an unrecognisable blob. I still think that striving for excellence is great, that taking care of my body and meeting my committments to others are important. But in learning to survive here I've learned that nothing is more important than letting go a little bit. Letting go of my unrelenting standards and of my expectations of myself and others.

This week I'm also feeling closer and closer to realising my own power to make my dreams come true. Both Laini and Denise wrote about dreams this week, and I realised that I still have dreams that haven't yet had their day in the sun. I've never really lost my belief that, if I put my mind to something I can make it happen. As a little girl I dreamed of working for the United Nations, travelling to remote and troubled places and fighting for justice. A big dream for a farmer's daughter from small town New Zealand. Yet, here I am. I have more dreams, and now it is time to let some of them out to play. I'm pretty excited about that.

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5 Responses to "24 hours of peace… and Lessons in Letting Go Part VII"

  1. susanna says:

    This post really spoke to me albeit I was shocked to read of the explosion outside your window – and still you continued writing this post, pissed off rather than unfazed by that event! You are s-t-r-o-n-g! I hadn’t read Keri’s post about letting go this week…I’ll have to drop by her blog this morning. She’s right and you’re right. Life is just so much easier when we can let go of the small stuff or the idea that we need to attain a perfectly balanced life (as if that’s possible), especially for others to see (like they would really care – most people are working on their own lives). I’ve experienced my own anger, panic attacks and anxiety trying to attain that perfect life, more specifically that perfect career. A few major obstacles have had me frustrated beyond words and in tears but at the same time, they’ve forced me to look at my life in a new perspective. I still have certain dreams that will eventually come true. It’s a matter of staying focused, adjusting to Life’s roadblocks and potholes and letting go of the things that are out of my hands or are so trivial they can be ignored.
    Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing about your new dreams! Are you still considering returning to school in 2008?

  2. Mardougrrl says:

    I love how we’re all on the same type of wave length…I am also working on letting go of those standards…with me, it’s about my weight right now. I want to lose weight, but not at the expense of my free time, damn it! LOL. I think I need to just learn to BE with my weight right now.
    Thank you, thank you. And ITA with your ideas on peace…when I was younger I thought that peace was merely the absence of war. Now I realize how much work it takes to make peace a fully realized vision and reality. And you are on the front lines. Amazing Frida. 🙂

  3. Alex says:

    I think this is a post to bookmark and read over and over again, right girlies? I’m sure that everyone will agree. I’m over here (as usual) feeling the same thing. 🙂 (the copy cat that I am…) I’ve been dueling with the fact that I had little time to write, paint, keep the job and finally, dust off the house! That is my last priority these days too (only if I really must…) Feeling that my blog is not so exciting these days and that all my original vision for it has taken its toll with my job being so demanding. And yoga! Oh my. I’ve settled now for doing forward bends at home when I rise in the morning and when I go to bed at night. And that is about it. But here is a twist! It has filled me so much to know that you share that realization that we don’t have to impress anyone but ourselves. And I’m okay at being sloppy and kind of broken right now. I’m okay with letting go of perfection. And I’m okay with the fact that this is how it is going to be for a little while. And that is fine because, like you, I feel that we can all go places when we need and want to.
    How is that for making peace with just being real?
    Be safe xoxx

  4. ceanandjen says:

    Oh, this was so perfect to read tonight, as I end a day of trying to clean my very dusty house, organize, purge work on my creative business…etc. etc. etc. Midstream I looked at my husband and sighed because I just knew that I could not affect it all the way I wanted to. Somehow, it all just fell into place and I have to look at much the same way Keri does in her post…
    It is so difficult to let go of those standards that we place on ourselves though. But, at the end of the day, we do the best that we can do, and we simply can not do everything. It is so very important to infuse those “dreams” into our existance, for I really believe that there are times when that is exactly what keeps us going.
    This was such a wonderful reminder. You too are going through a transition, and you are doing such a fabulous job of puting everything in perspective…you always do.
    Sending you peace and love.xoxoxo

  5. Swirly says:

    I am so excited to see what dreams of yours come to light. I feel like I have been in a strange space ever since I got home from Japan. I know part of this is jet lag, but I also feel like this is meant to be quiet, unproductive time to get my creative priorities back in focus, and for some reason they feel like they might have shifted while I was away. As if furniture in my house were re-arranged in my absence and I’m still trying to make sense of the new order of things. I have to admit it has felt fairly uncomfortable, but maybe that is the blessing of jet lag – I am too tired to get too concerned about it, so instead I’m just riding it out and seeing where it takes me. I look forward to seeing where your dreams take you…

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