Thursday, October 30, 2014

'I don't understand'

Last week I spent time reflecting on something I read in the Mark Nepo book I mention often, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. So often Nepo will turn a thought on its head or say it in a completely new way so I hear it as if for the first time.

First Nepo quoted Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, author and peace activist, who said, "If you tell me you already understand, I feel a little pessimistic. If you say you do not understand, I feel more optimistic."

And as Nepo said, "... there is no real bond with others until we share the evidence of who we are and not just our conclusions." Oh, yes.

As one who grew up thinking it was important to have answers, I always need to hear this. It's OK to not understand. In fact, it's normal. I can't know everything. You can't know everything. It's part of being human. It's being honest and vulnerable to admit we don't know. When I can admit that I don't know or don't understand, when I can ask you questions about how you see things and when I can avoid just giving conclusions, you and I can have a real conversation. We can have a give-and-take that will likely lead to more authenticity for us both.

I think I'll practice saying, "I don't understand."

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