Michael’s Macro Photos

Published on January 24, 2015

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Who is the person closest to you? It could be your husband, wife, or significant partner, your mom, dad, brother or sister – whomever. IMO that relationship (and that alone) is the test of who we are. It is easy to be kind and generous to strangers, someone we may never meet again, only see socially once in a while, or when we feel like it.

However, it is the person that we see every day reflected in the mirror of ourself that is where the rubber meets the road, you know, "up close and personal. That's the test, and not our public persona, not how other people like us. It's "Love the One You're With" THE MOST that counts. Other folks are relatively easy.

We may like to think that if we don't like what we see of ourselves in the mirror of our partner's eyes, obviously this could be their fault. After all, no one else treats us like that. Yeah, sure. Way deep inside, this is true for everyone, but here we are talking about the surface, how we actually behave to the ones we are closest to, like our partner. We best not dismiss our partner's criticism just because it is clear that they too are not perfect. What we see of ourtselves reflected in their eyes and opinion is also what we are, if only to them. That should mean something to us, even if we believe that they hold mistaken views.

A common copout is to say that all of what we see of ourselves in their eyes may be true "as long as" our partner has no shortcomings of their own that might cause them to see us wrong, and therein is the rub. The common refrain is "They don't see me right and their own short-sightedness and personal faults are why they have such a bad opinion of me." Their own warped view they take to be my fault. That's the common refrain.

Not so fast. I have an answer for that argument as well. We all have faults and blind spots, so we may tend to take what our partner says about us with a grain of salt – heavily discounted. They don't 'really' know us or they have an attitude in our case, etc. Perhaps they are prejudiced by past experience, etc., and how can we ever dig out of that hole? Really? Do we actually believe that is all there is to it, that we don't also have a finger in that pie and that our partner (somehow) does not really know us? Give me a break!! Even I can't swallow that one.

Isn't it interesting that this bad image of us persists in them and comes up again and again at these difficult times? Why not the other way around, that we are mostly good, with a touch of bad? For the sake of not furthering the argument, we might at least try on accepting how our partner sees us as true "for them" and do something about it, for their sake. After all, most of us well know how to improve our social appearances. I know I have lost track when I find myself quoting to my partner (or to myself), "Well, other people like me." That is a bad sign.

And there is another point worth considering. No matter what our partner is throwing at us or appears to think of us when the going gets rough, our reaction to what they point out to us is entirely our own. If we react negatively, meanly, bitterly, etc., this is all our own choice, and has nothing to do with them. Whether they are right or wrong, well-behaved or bad, our response is purely our own. We can't blame them for the response they can provoke in us. That's all us.

And how do we forgive ourselves for our own bad behavior. Talk about karma building up! If we think we can outlast facing the whole truth of what I am pointing at here, good luck. As I like to say, it is like trying to sneak up on a mirror. It's just a fool's errand; it can't be done.

So, summarizing, the best case to get off scot-free from responsibility is that our partner is really messed-up when it comes to us, and see us as a cup half-empty, instead of half-full. And perhaps we have just been trying to be good, to do better, etc. But then we are responsible for how we react to their hurtfulness. If I am so good, my response to their "wrong" criticism should be understanding and compassionate, meaning I should feel for their state and do what I can to help the situation. Why am I reacting?

You and I both know that very seldom is it the case that we are above it all and not part of the problem. Mostly we are right in there, snarking away, tooth and nail. This is why I tend to say that marriage (or any close relationship) is the most common form of yoga or union. And it lends truth to the Zen story of the Roshi saying to a student who was seeking his teacher's blessing. "And now for your final and greatest test, meet your new wife!"

Marriage (or a close-relationship) is the most common form of yoga. Most of us practice it, but how well is another story. It occurs to me that it might be easier to actually figure this out than to continue to avoid facing it head-on.

[Photo from warmer times. I am in the midst of sorting through hundreds of thousands of photos. What am I to do with them all? I even like some of them.]

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