Yuan Mei, like many of the great Chinese poets, exhibited many talents: working as a government official, teacher, writer, and a painter. Perhaps meditation and the teachings of Zen (Ch’an in Chinese) helped him pace himself. Maintain some sort of balance and equanimity.
But when you consider his poem, perhaps his life was overly busy like so many of us today. The longing for simplicity. For a tranquil place. The focus on nature.
I was 13 years old. As one of the pallbearers, I stood at the end of the line, watching the casket sliding from the hearse. Suddenly, I felt weak. Grief rushed through me in a way I hadn’t known before. I turned away, just at the time when I should have been reaching up. My uncle turned and screamed something nasty at me. What exactly, I don’t remember. Only that “do your job” was tagged to the end of it. I didn’t forgive him for years for that, even though it was mostly a reaction out of fear that the casket would fall.
During the visit, it was clear that Brian was fading. He tried to talk to us, but really couldn’t muster the strength to say anything coherently. I remember looking into his eyes, and saying “I miss our talks” and I’m almost sure he tried to say to me “Maybe we’ll have another.”
We never got another chance. He died Thursday.
What Rosenberg discovered working in situations where conflict was quite high and challenging was that when people spoke from a place of their feelings and perceived needs, instead of a place of judgement and evaluative criticism, not only was conflict reduced, but it became easier for everyone involved in a given situation to gain clarity about the truth.
When I consider the landscape today – in the US anyway – those social/cultural pressures are lessened, and the romantic “love-based” model of relationships is the norm. More and more folks are also ambivalent about, or completely against, the idea of life-long marriage to a single partner. This, even as the tide is beginning to shift towards freedom for GBLTQ folks to get married.