Jul 112017


A few messages I sent out recently were completely ignored. There was no acknowledgment, response, not even a friendly brush-off emoticon.

On one level this is simply rude, not to mention unkind, especially since these were not garden variety messages. One was a request for help around my children and the others I would categorize as heart questions or offerings. To behave as if they had not arrived at all I find appallingly cold-hearted. How difficult is it to type “Thank you and I hope all is well”, or if you don’t hope it, “Got it!”, or “Thanks for the thought.” There are a hundred ways to acknowledge a person who reaches out for one reason or another, emoticons included. If you receive a message you wish you hadn’t, at least make an effort to recognize the presence of the human being on the other side, especially if the message is personal.

I was in a situation where a former partner texted what I felt was an inappropriate memory. I reached for a friendly emoticon and sent that. I did not want to engage further, but I felt it inhuman to ignore his vulnerability. Could I have done better? Perhaps, but that was all I could authentically offer at the time.

When I am hurt or disappointed, I ask myself: “What was my role in this dynamic ?” I peel back the layers as a way of recognizing myself as co-creator of every event in my life, both uplifting and challenging. In this case I realize I was attached to a certain outcome and again had expectations (it’s a theme I have to deal with in this lifetime) of decency, kindness, respect and friendship. At minimum. Perhaps it is too big an assumption, especially in this day and age of worldwide animosity, which makes the entire situation more poignant. I think it is the very thing we need to be mindful of to be part of a counter energy of love and connection. But it is not to be imposed on others. So now my challenge is to adjust my lens to accommodate a more realistic view, one that reflects the present rather than the past. People change, or maybe I should stop insisting on my picture of who they are. I am learning to let go of the narrative I tell myself about people and their place in my life.

Yesterday I listened to an author speak about his traumatic childhood. His parents were missionaries who were so absorbed in their ministry, their own children were neglected and abused. God, I pray, let me always value the human beings in my life above all else–to hold each one in warmth and kindness, as much as I can, imperfect as I am. And if I am unable, to at least always behave with decency. I do not want to be the kind of person who looks to the world but fails to show up in love and humanity in the everyday.

This was a profound learning experience. So, despite deep disappointment, it has been a time of making lemonade! I sit in gratitude for this lesson, to aspire to be a human being who strives to honor another. Always. I don’t care about the public imprint you leave on the world. What matters is how you treat the people in your life, even if they were merely passing through. In the end, how we loved is the only measure of who we are.

 Posted by at 2:23 pm

  2 Responses to “Peeling Off the Layers”

  1. Dear Ms. Tapales:
    I read this most recent post of yours with deep sadness, for my failure in reaching back to you, in acknowledgment of your “Heartwork” post of 27 April. You deserve more from me and should have gotten it, lurker as I am on your deeply personal and introspective blogspot. I found your writing through your Waldorf work, trying to find a way to get my little Pinoy grandchildren into Waldorf here, but logistics in the rice fields where we live just don’t work.
    Please, please, don’t do this thing, “People change, or maybe I should stop insisting on my picture of who they are. I am learning to let go of the narrative I tell myself about people and their place in my life.” I know I would be saddened if you changed from the powerfully introspective and fearless self-observer that you are. What you really are is a very very special person who is personally fearless of expressing their own fears in an age of Lies and Insecurities and Fear. This world needs more of you and your strength, not less.
    Thank you for being relentless in your bravery, even in the face of our failures to acknowledge you and your power. Your reflections are a mirror for us all, struggling as we do in this uncomfortable age of separation.

  2. Dear Mr. Cheney,

    I am embarrassed but also deeply touched by your note. I feel I may have leaked too much disappointment in my post and was self-indulgent. Please don’t feel obliged to respond to any of them, as what I write here are true offerings to anyone who might find comfort, resonance or brotherhood. I give them freely and consider the occasional acknowledgment a bonus. But I thank you for your kindness and compassion. Yes, they are a rarity these days, but you showed me how we can simply show up for each other and reach across even virtual lines to make a difference in someone’s perspective, outlook and heartache. You have been my angel on this Sunday morning and I am filled with hope and gratitude.

    Thank you.

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