What Works (and What Doesn’t)

What Works (and What Doesn’t)

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.” -Rumi

Rumi’s words remind me to step back from the dichotomy of “good” and “bad”/ “right” and “wrong.” Instead, there can only be what works and what doesn’t, and that is a moving target. A behavior that serves us in one moment may be detrimental in another. It’s not inherently of a particular value.

This can be a tough concept to digest when we have spent so many years conditioning ourselves to believe that when we struggle we “fail” or “are the worst.” We have trained ourselves to see our failures in the contrast of others’ (perceived) strengths, and so value ourselves against what we wish were.

My best friend and I were discussing this at length on a recent road trip together. We have so much in common, but when we travel together our differences in time management start to show. I am painstakingly always on time or early. She, on the other hand, often ends up being 10 min late. She bemoans her struggle and praises my ease. Until we talked about what really goes on.

The cost of my timeliness is hidden in the 20 wasted minutes I habitually spend sitting in my car parked at an appointment far too early. The stomach churning anxiety I feel looking at the clock, knowing I will be even 1 minute late. There are always two sides to the story. I wish I could take a deep breath and know it isn’t the end of the world to be fashionably late. A step before that would be to reduce my “just in case” travel buffer, and not end up sweating it out in parking lots on a regular basis. We have a lot we can learn from each other even in the simplest situations. Instead of “whose way is better?” the real question should be “what works here?”.

For a freewheeling day exploring the Pacific Northwest, it served us both to let my friend take the wheel. She didn’t stress that we wouldn’t be on time for our made up plans. Because of that, we had an adventure that neither of us planned on, and it remains the highlight of my visit. When it was time to get packed up and catch my flight home I stepped in with time checks and outlining priorities. We had lunch, shared our final stories and hugs and I was on a bus to the airport without rushing or concern.

To me “the field” out beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing is finding our self in community. Together, we balance the traits to better ourselves and our impact on the world. Let your “wrongdoings” become an opportunity to ask for help. “Rightdoings” are simply the ways you can give back. We all have gaps. We all have skills. We all need each other.

Always in Service,
Dr. Carly