Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ponder this Sunday: fascination with the difficult

"Your perception determines the way things will behave for you and toward you. We tend to perceive difficulty as disturbance. Ironically, difficulty can be a great friend of creativity. I love the lines from Paul Valery: "A difficulty is a light; an insurmountable difficulty is a sun." from Anam Cara by John O'Donohue pg 155.

He goes on to say that this is a less popular way of viewing things that are skewed, uneven, blemished. "Deep within us there is a terrible impulse and drive toward perfection. We want everything flattened into the one shape. We do not like unexpected shapes."

In many ways, and at this time of my life, it is true for me that I want regularity, I want my world to be flattened into predictable events, I want simplicity. Of course, this is impossible. It goes against the natural evolution of life. And at the same time as I think I desire predictability I am endlessly attracted to people, place and things that are difficult. They tend to have such depth and mystery. My mind is always stretching to understand and widening to encompass these imperfect visions.

I think I am a simple and straight-forward person. Perhaps I have all these difficult people in my life to draw me into realms I would not traverse were it not for them. So many of my friends are complicated, talkative, extremely busy and highly achieved persons. They are, I think, drawn to me due to my simplicity and quiet. I am drawn to them as I receive inspiration and energy from their extroversion.

Are you drawn to what's difficult? Or do you run from difficulties? Can a simple shift of perception turn a difficulty into a friend? Can you think of some creative "doing" that arose directly or indirectly from a difficult person, place or thing?

photo: burnt wood buried in the sand at Morris Island


Cestandrea said...

Suki, I just love the picture and the thoughtful and beautiful things you share with us here. With regard to your question, I have always felt attracted by complications, complicated persons, too, perceived them as a challenge, saying: well I'll roll up my sleeves and go to work:) But getting older, I find myself longing for more privacy, and for routine too. I don't mind difficulties when it comes to artistical challenges, that is great and still welcomed:). But I don't feel attracted to difficult people anymore, they bother me and I don't have much time left for them. (well, if they don't belong to my family cause there are some difficult people to cope with, I can tell you, LOL)
Thanks so much for your great posts always, and the photo is really something!

katie jane said...

I guess I am attracted to difficult situations because I find myself in them all the time. However, I would like a less complicated life.

It's funny that you are talking about perception, because on my blog today I am whining about being "stuck", when probably, it's my own perception of myself.

Like Andrea, I too feel less tolerant toward difficult people as I get older. I believe that life is what you make of it; you can find happiness anywhere, you just have to look for it.
Finding inner peace is the difficult part.

Kim said...

Suki, This is a fantastic post. It is a subject near and dear to my heart. I find I also attract people who are very different from me and who complicate my life. I also know with all of my heart they need something from me as I do from them.

It is funny, at this point in my life I look for challenges. So many people can't understand that, but I know if I can work through those challenges my life becomes stronger and better. One of the greatest challenges for me is being able to deal with people who are not willing to be able to help themselves. This is my current challenge with people, anyway.

I have a painting which came out of the blue after my dear friend, Ruth, died of breast cancer 2 years ago. I have shown it on my blog...I can still hardly stand to look at it. My relationship with Ruth really fully developed during the time when her cancer had returned. We laughed and cried a lot. She left two young children. Ruth taught me so much about looking life directly in the face, being appreciative of every single day, of being aware of the reasons people who come into your life and why they leave. There is a gift in every coming and going and in every challenge.

I like this you said:

"My mind is always stretching to understand and widening to encompass these imperfect visions."

I would like to place it on my blog. If you don't want it there, I will take it off!

Oh, one more thing. Something interesting is that I have found my blog friends are very different from the people who are physically around me. Is that true for any of you?

I love your "Ponder this Sunday" Suki! You always give me reason to pause and consider. Thank You!

Kim said...

One more Andrea, I find I am also seeking more private time as I get older...that becomes almost critical.

Honour said...

Suki, what a lovely picture
an inspiring quote
an intriguing question.

I laughed out loud and then sighed when reading your post.

I am drawn to what's difficult.
Difficult situations, difficult people, difficult difficulties.

I shake my head at myself.
But, then, I also would not trade my life for all of its strange evolutions.

It is very buddhist, your quote, is it not? The latest thing I read in my books are how we have to ACCEPT life's randomness - in its beauty and its despair. And when we try to look for control or order or predictability, we will inevitably be disappointed. So, why not embrace difficulty? "There is no cure for hot and cold. There is no cure for life." so, yes - I think an attitude can make difficulty into a friend. I've certainly learned this (ha ha - continuing to learn) these past years.

I think you aren't as simple as you might think suki. complex and wonderfully complicated people like you strive to encompass imperfect visions - and so that is why I find your blog and your postings so relevant and insightful! whatever you are, we like it :)

And I have to say - all of my best writing, even my decision to write and pursue it, came out of difficulty. As Bobbb said on my blog, "if you don't climb the mountain, you'll never see the view". Thanks for sharing, Suki.

sukipoet said...

Wow. Such great responses. One thing I didnt say in my blog post was that in my relationships with men (ie ex-husband and boyfriends) I always seem to end up with extremely difficult and addicted people who feel shunned by the world and bitterly so. Enough, I now say. I'd rather be alone. I have no patience with this particular difficulty anymore. There is not enough time left. Although I have great sympathy and concern, but from a distance.

Perhaps similar to what you have said Andrea, I do love artistic challenges and also my current challenge of being with dying people (however that also depends on how long it all goes on). I love how you say you used to say you'd just roll up your sleeves and go to work. I tried that with my ex-husband and one thing I learned was I can work my head off regarding other people's behavior, but it is they who must do the work in their own lives. Meanwhile, how long will I bang my head against a brick wall. I now know I must tend to my own self, and then all else will fall into place. Which might be that I do not want to be in this person's presence anymore.

Katie Jane, sometimes it is hard to simplify life when one has to work long hours in not ideal circumstances. But I think both simplicity of a sort and coming to peace can be achieved when I remember to stay present in the present moment. Not something I always remember however.

Kim that is indeed a hard challenge. To see people not helping themselves. Even something as simple as seeing loved ones smoke all the time (as my brother, SIL, ex-husband and son do). I am learning to continually let it go re: their health and just make sure they understand there is no smoking in my house or car. In other words, I have learned the hard way, that the only behavior I can control or have influence over is my own.

Sure you can quote me on your blog. I'm touched. that's interesting about your painting still being too painful to look at. Yet, you made it and that is beautiful and there most likely will come a day you can see it in a different way.

Well, blog friends of course we don't meet in person generally, though sometimes bloggers have gotten together. It is a different tenor to the relationships. We just see small fragments. Whatever the person wants to reveal verbally or via their art or poems. i find it wonderful and interesting and really amazing that i can feel so close to my blog friends. But also, we can pick and choose in the sense of--I'm not reading a lot or any blogs by scientist explaining experimental scientific things or math things. These things interest me, but briefly. We can choose to blog with friends who talk about things that interest us. In real life, it can take years to find folks who want to talk about art and poetry and so forth. At least, that's my take on it right now.

Mom doesnt want me to talk at all. SIL is engrossed in her illness. Bro talks a bit once in awhile. I can talk art to my ex as he was an artist and in fact that is about the only topic we have in common. Except our son of course. these are the people around me right now. So yes, my blog friends are different.

Thanks everyone for your ideas. I find it fascinating. Be well, Suki

sukipoet said...

Yes Honor, I think John O'Donohue writes in the manner of a sort of Buddhist philosophy. He was a contemplative priest at one time and I think contemplatives of all religions seem to come up with similar ideas.

Isn't there that Buddhist question about if you see someone dump ashes on the statue of the Buddha what do you do?

My answer was-- get a brush and dust pan and clean it up.

There will always be ashes on the buddha. i can't stop people from dumping them. If I get angry I only create more confusion and chaos. But what can I do....yes.

Interesting that you feel all your best writing came out of difficulty. I'd say the same for me, or trying to understand a difficulty and reshape it (unconsciously) through creating a world in my writing. My ex-husband, when we were married, used to tell me I'd have nothing to write about were it not for him. Well, kinda arrogant. But he did give me lots of grist for the mill.

Thank you for your kind words about myself and my blog. Namaste, Suki

Annie said...

I love this post. I have been thinking about why we resist challenges so much. Resistance just makes things worse. A man, the love of my life has been the most difficult relationship ever and has taught me how to detach and let go, over and over again. It is a very good thing to learn

sukipoet said...

thank you annie. You are so right, that which is difficult teaches us. My dear difficult EX-husband also taught me, the hard way, to let go. Well, also my son too. although I seem to have to be retaught about letting go when different situations arise and i forget. So, a blessing.

Forever Young said...

sigh...snap, all i want is regularity and evennness and peace and quiet too!!!
but as they say 'all one can expect is change!'
i'll send quiet vibes over to you, suki, and you send some quiet ones back to me....hugs.

human being said...

in my humble crowy opinion,

simplicity is a well-appreciated complexity...

so dearest Suki, your simplicity is the result of your wisdom about complexities.

a tremendously insightful post... Suki, i enjoyed reading every word of it... you are an inexhaustible source of wisdom... it's not flattery... it is my true feeling whenever i read you... here and in your comments

'difficulty is a light... can be a sun'
my husband always says if his parents had bought him that minicar he'd loved to have and drive as a little kid, he would have never become a designer and a modeler.

Kim said...

Suki, I can identify with your need to be alone now. Not that I want to be alone, but I have often thought if anything happened to my sweet husband, I would not have an interest in another that strange to have a very good relationship, yet not want another?

Anyway, smoking is a great example of what I was talking about people who are not willing to help themselves. Of course that goes with just about anything, too. I am with you about it being difficult to let things go but having to do that for your own health and peace of mind (is that redundant?).

I look forward to the day I can see that painting that way. So many people love it, but I can hardly bear it. It isn't as though I am clinging to her...she would hate that, it is just I think the painting came from so much grief.

I agree meeting people with like minds...when you are very difficult in non-blog life. I absolutely adore all of my blog friends who I realize as my professional colleagues as well as my personal friends. My family thinks I am talking about people I have met in my days...they don't separate the two at all...and that is the way I see everyone!

Well talking art with all see it here. My daughter is a word artist with a great artistic eye, but that is it!

Anyway, this is a fabulous topic, Suki! I love talking about these things.


Patti said...

"Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health." - Carl Gustav Jung.

I need simplicity also and my life has been very complicated, so I understand what you mean about attracting the opposite.

Difficult people? They are the ones who need love the most and are usually just trying to work themselves out, or maybe they are just resisting the inevitability that they must change, if they don't want to stay the same.

Smokers are difficult because they are essentially drug addicts. (My Hub smokes)

Thank you for this post it has helped me today with my own difficulties. Peace to you.


What a post, and what insight from the comments!
I have nothing to add,,,,it's all been said better than I could have said it,,,I just wanted to express my appreciation for all the thoughtful Bloggers out there. What a joy to read this!
Excellent post Suki,,,and you are blessed with many miracles,through all these friends.

Cris in Oregon said...

I seem to be attracted to them to.. well DID seem to be. but like everyone else I seek peace in my life. I love this picture too. I can see birds coming up out of the ground. Some of the wood is shaped.. well to me.. like wooden birds.. but then it IS late here and I am tired. LOL
Yes Kim I too find my blog friends different. They are upbuilding and encouraging to me about my Art. Since moving here I have had more people around me tearing apart my self confidence over my paintings that I almost got to where I could'nt paint any more. and yes we are all seeking the same thing some one who talks art. You cant always find that around you. Not in small towns like ours and yours Suki. Lots of good thoughts here. Now I am going to bed and hope in my tired state I made sense here. LOL

Patti said...

Back again! I agree about blog friends, although not to many people read my blog these days :)

There is so much encouragement here and kindred spirits to be found. I treasure every one of you out there.

sukipoet said...

great Forever Young. I like this exchange of quiet vibes. Actually I'll send you a double dose re: your working with kids which is not a quiet environment unless it is nap time.

human being, thank you. You know I think perhaps my mind/intersts have a complexity about them, but my life and what I do seems simple. I love the story about your husband. Certainly a sign of an inventive/creative mind. If I can't have it this way, I'll invent one or make one. I love that.

thanks KIm for your further reflections. Oh, I think for many people their long time relationship with their partner becomes the only one they desire. Relationships are a lot of "work" to keep going and through the years you build up so many connections and resonances. I totally understand someone not wanting to start again from square one.

Patti, great quote from Jung. I wonder if in part the reason we attract the opposite of what we think we want is so that we will be challenged to then find and create what we want despite the friction of the opposite. Or at least try to create what we want as nothing ever turns out the way we think it will.
Thanks for your insights and sharings everyone. An interesting dialogue.

sukipoet said...

Babs, yes I do feel blessed to have so many thoughtful, caring and encouraging blog friends. Who would have thought a few years back when I was refusing to even own a computer. My parents used computers before I did. :)

Cris, how wonderful that your blogfriends have contributed to the renewal of your painting. You are so talented. And blogging is such a wonderful way to share paintings and artworks. I remember your post about the critical woman. goodness. No more of that. You know there were lots of clusters of that wood on the beach. I almost made me wonder if it was some wooden boat that had gotten buried and was now being revealed. But that's probably my imagination. Love the idea that they are birds. Hope you got a good sleep.

Patti, I agree. The kindred spirits are out here, hiding in the stratosphere to be found and connected with. Miraculous. And you are one, dear Patti. I think of you as you take your hour long walks on that beautiful oceanside.