Along the Mekong River going north of Luang Prabang the small boat I was travelling in stopped at a very small village where I found this young family. The village is now a tour stop specializing in the making and sale of woven cloth and the manufacture of a potent white lightning that actually had a pleasant taste in comparison with most that I’ve tried in Canada and in China. This little family was attempting to sell bead work, mostly cheap trinkets. Being in the midst of the dry season, villagers are actually present and not working in the rice fields not too distant. My initial response to such as scene is to lament that parents would employ their children to do the sales work, placing a world of stress on pressure upon these children causing a loss of childhood. But, that is my stuff and I have learned to keep my own counsel and allow others to govern their own lives.
It is easy for me to sit in judgment of others in many instances as I think I know the difference between right and wrong. I say to myself “I’d never do that!” believing that somehow in a similar situation I would be able to think the way I do now and make better choices. But in truth, I don’t know what I would say or do in another life, in other circumstances. As I think over my own actions, I see that I have done things I would not do anymore. Yet at that time, I was a different person at a different level of self-awareness. I compromised my self in order to make it a little better for my children or for my wife. I was blind to my shadow and stumbled into hurtful situations for my children and my wife. With age and with some hard work, I have learned that ego doesn’t have all the facts needed to clearly think through the minefield of options. The biggest learning was that all choices, all paths are literally minefields because of both a personal unconsciousness and the collective unconsciousness.
There is so much remaining for me of my self that remains a mystery. Now, I am hesitant to make judgment – hesitant, but not unwilling. Because I engage in relationships, both in a face-to-face life and a cyberspace life. I am left only with being able to describe acts as having negative or positive affect for me, to me – and this affect is more about bringing me a personal darkness or a personal light that is felt by my soul. And in saying these words I begin to perhaps understand how at the day of judgment one’s self is the judge that chooses the darkness or the light, a personal heaven or hell in response for the life one has lived. I leave it to others to be their own judges as much as I can.
With many judgments set aside, I have begun to learn how to engage in relationship which is an act of trust. I must trust the other as well as my self as I enter into relationship, as I deepen relationships in which I have long engaged.
“. . . we bring ourselves to relationship. With scant knowledge of ourselves, we seek our identity in the mirror of the Other, as we once did in Mom and Dad. With all the wounds of this perilous condition we seek a safe harbor in that Other who, alas, is seeking the same in us. With the thousand adaptive strategies derived from the fortuities of fated time, fated places, fated Others, we contaminate the frail present with the germs of the past.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 32)