What is my Responsibility?
I have recently encountered some new and unexpected life challenges and find myself in unknown territory. It’s interesting to notice how we are called to grow and evolve. Just when we think that we know where we’re going, have made a plan, written the next chapters of the story we want to live, something unforeseen happens, and we have to choose how to respond. To decide – what is my responsibility in this situation?
Merriam Webster – Responsibility:
1. the state of being the person who caused something to happen
2. a duty or task that you are required or expected to do
3. something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.
The word responsibility implies the ability to respond to someone or something that makes a claim on us. Bosses make claims on the time and area of focus on of their employees, and children represent claims on the the attention and resources of their parents. To be responsible is to be answerable for action; when we recognize a valid or authoritative call to do something, we have a duty to respond – that is, we have a responsibility… But persons are not islands, and we deny the fundamental aspect of their humanity when we approach them as such. Everyone exists in some form of relationship to others; every person shares in the human community and therefore has basic moral obligations toward other human beings. – Ryan Messmore D.Phil.
I find that the idea of response-ability is complex. As parents we are responsible for the care and upbringing of our children. As adults we are responsible for ourselves, our own health, well-being, words, thoughts and how we respond to the scenarios that life throws our way.
The complexity develops when we ask the questions ‘how can I up my level of responsibility?’? and ‘to what extent am I responsible for others, especially those I care deeply about?’.
‘From caring comes courage.’ – Lao Tzu
Looking back on our blogs, you’ll notice we’ve said that beginning with Einstein, scientists have moved toward the discovery of what meta-physicians have known for eons – everything on the planet is made of the same stuff. From this perspective, we may actually be only one being that has fragmented! Therefore, while as adults we may in fact be responsible for every person and for everything that happens on the planet, at the same time we are only each able to make our own responses. We cannot respond for someone else! We are each 100% responsible for ourselves. At the same time, in every relationship, each party is not 50%, but 100% responsible for that relationship. So how do we demonstrate our willingness to be responsible for a loved on in trouble, while honoring that truth? For that matter, how do we take responsibility for making the world a better place?
‘It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.’ – J. W. Goethe
‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ – Maimonides
If we remember the basics, and behave the way we were taught in kindergarten; clean up our own messes, and share our crayons – If we follow the golden rule and we do unto others as we would have others do unto ourselves – we’re on the right track.
Those of us who view the Human Experience through the lens of reincarnation, may say that we are here to master the the art of being human. The multi-faceted challenges of being human may be greater than anyone can meet in a single, or even a few lifetimes. The answer to these questions may be the same as the old joke ‘how do you get to Carnegie Hall?… practice, practice, practice!’ And yet we are both a solo act and the entire symphony. We must do our personal best, while listening to all of the instruments around us in order to produce a beautifully harmonious sound. If we are the triangle, we must stay extra alert, and listen carefully for that moment to respond – to sound our tone, for without it, the symphony is incomplete. If we all play our part – do our very best, in our most response -able way, we arehelping. If we are the 1st violin, and we step away to ‘assist’ the oboe, we’re likely to cause more disharmony. Sometimes we are the conductor, and it is our role to direct others. Most often we must have faith in the conductor, and in our fellow instruments, and despite our doubts, despite what we perceive to be mistakes, unusual and interesting music occurs.
One of the most challenging aspects of responsibility for me as a practitioner is periodically having to step outside myself to be sure that I am walking my talk, modeling the message, being a product of the product. I have a response-ability to do this on a regular basis in order stay on course. Often I must make adjustments for how I’ve deviated from the path as a result of my having responded to something unforeseen.
We all do this from time to time, and if we don’t make those course corrections though, we may find ourselves lost in the proverbial forest with no path to be found! Even the atomic world clock must be periodically corrected! It’s important that we allow ourselves to be human, to be travelers on the road of life, without judgement and unrealistic expectations. Depending on how we view it, perfection is either an impossibility as, by nature of being human we are flawed – or- in any moment, and we have suggested to you that the only moment we have is NOW, perfection is exactly how things are and are not.
‘Better a diamond with a flaw, than a pebble without.’ – Confucius
We must also remember that there are many paths that lead to the same destination, and not all are direct… some of us are on oddly circuitous paths. We must respect one another’s choices. We are all on this journey together, and on the road to our happy ending, to our Carnegie Hall, to Enlightenment, no one is ahead or behind.
We Invite you to walk part of the path with us at Clay Alchemy from the Voice of Clay. Find a class, an evening gathering, a retreat, and join us!
‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.’ – Lao Tzu