July 20

Perhaps the hardest lesson
to learn is not to be attached
to the results of your actions.

Joan Borysenko


Today's Meditation:

Results.  Most of us live in results-oriented cultures, which means that we're judged very often on what comes out of our work, and not necessarily on the work itself.  Because of this, many of us have become fixated on results--results of our work, results of our interactions with others, results of our advice, you name it.  We want things to turn out the way that we intended them to turn out, with no room for ambiguity or contradiction.

Have you ever seen anyone give someone else money as a gift, and then get upset when that money was used for something they didn't see as valuable, or more specifically, not on what the giver thought it should be spent on?  Have you ever watched someone get bent out of shape because the recipient of his or her kindness didn't thank them enough, or didn't show their appreciation enough?  Have you ever felt extremely frustrated because your garden or your painting or your garage wasn't turning out how you envisioned it would turn out?

As a teacher, one of the most important things that I've learned in my life is to let go of results.  While I see my students improve in my classes, I know that the vast majority of what they learn from me won't show up until later, after they've been able to process the information and the processes, after they've had a lot more practice with the principles and concepts of writing.  I've learned to do what I do and then walk away from it without being concerned at all with how things turn out, except to make sure that my help won't be needed in some other way.  If I help someone out, I don't expect thanks at all--and if I get them, I see them as a nice bonus.

If you give me ten dollars, don't tell me how I should spend it.  Because if you do, and I spend it in another way, then both of us will be stressed out because I haven't met your expectations.  And that would be a shame.

Plant some trees that you'll never see grow up.  Perform kind acts so that people never will know who did them.  Give your help, but don't expect thanks.  Then you'll start knowing the true joy of giving--the joy that isn't tied to results.

Questions to consider:

Why do we feel that results are so important?  Are they really?

How might you practice the art of letting go of your need to see results?

Which results are most important for you to have come out just as you want them to come out?  How often do they come out that way?  What would happen if they came out in other ways?

For further thought:

One has made at least a start on discovering the
meaning of human life when one plants shade trees
under which one knows full well one will never sit.

Elton Trueblood


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