And there she sat, in her favorite arm chair, curled up to what seemed like a corner. She was too big for it, but it had been hers for the last 60 years. With a stroll over her, she sat by the fireplace, surrounded by her teenage grand kids, all waiting for the stories to continue. Grandma Edna had the most amazing stories to tell, and the fact that they were all personal made them more special.
Every story she said came with a moral, a lesson learnt and Grandma Edna made sure to insist on the lesson before and after every story, for that is where the learning was- that every relationship, no matter how small or long, adds to your character and influences you to head in a particular direction.
Today’s story was about learning to let go and move on, to be able to make way for relationships(professional and personal) that matter in your life. And so that story began!
She must have been around 16 years when she was in love with her boyfriend Karl. They had been with each other for the last 2 years and it seemed like a love story to last. Like most college romances, there is almost always a third person. In this case, it was Joe, Karl’s best friend. It will take a lifetime, she said, to recant the lovely memories and stories of time spent together. But like an experienced story teller, she kept the script restricted to what she wanted to convey, making the rest of us salivate for more.
Joe ended up becoming Edna’s best friend too. They’d spend a lot of time together talking, doing projects together, hanging out. Being in the same class helped. Joe’s job as per Karl, was to make sure other boys stayed away from her. Karl had a possessive streak and he disliked anyone even looking at Edna. Edna had a magical radiance on her face. When she laughed, she lit up the room. But the most beautiful thing about Edna was her heart, her compassion, because she genuinely cared for those around her.
Karl made her feel secure. He was that voice of restraint in her life, because her soul sought freedom. She was impulsive and functioned with emotions, rarely ever thinking about the practical repercussions. So Karl was that hand of reality in her life and she liked that very much. He was her safety net so to speak, and it allowed her to fly and do as her heart desired, or so she thought.
Joe was quick to pick up on Karl’s sentiments moving from possessive to obsession. It worried him. He enjoyed spending time with Edna and somewhere he started caring for her. Maybe he was in love with her, but he fought hard to not let that be shown. He valued her friendship too much. He saw a sensible and mature side to Edna, something that Karl never gave her an opportunity to show. For Joe, Edna was multilayered, she was perfect in every sense. Someone any man would fight for to keep happy and safe. And Joe wanted to be that man, even if it were to be in the background, unknown to any.
Trouble came brewing when it was time to send in college applications for the undergraduate program. Karl and Edna had different interests, which meant that it was time to graduate their relationship to that of ‘long distance’ relationship. Karl vehemently refused to let Edna apply anywhere other than where he was applying. His dreams and desires became his governing principle. Since it was his job to take care of Edna when they got married, it was more important that he be placed in a college that gave him maximum opportunity to succeed. Edna was a fixture in his life, something he wanted to hold on to for his self esteem. Something he was not willing to let go, it was his trophy that made him feel worthy and valuable.
Where was the Karl that made her feel safe and secure? This face of Karl made her afraid of him. He intimidated her into doing what he wanted. She was free spirited, she wanted to soar and touch the skies. It was beyond her comprehension on why Karl was stifling her freedom and creativity? Why if his love was pure, did he not have faith for them to maintain their bond long distance?
Edna shared her concerns with Joe. It was Joe who was wiping her tears every time Karl hurt her with words. It was Joe she was leaning on to help her find a solution because in her mind, Karl was her soul mate and she wanted him to be more understanding.
And then the most unexpected thing happened, Joe flipped personalities. He used his understanding of Edna to make her disapprove of Karl. Joe used his friendship with Karl to encourage Karl to swim with other fish in the sea. The last 6 months of grade 11 were the most traumatic for Edna. The life that she knew and imagined was just falling apart and it seemed like there was nothing she could do. A once happy person was now perpetually anxious and stressed. Her expectations were being managed by everyone other than her, and that unknown to her was making her more unhappy.
Karl bloomed into an entitled control freak, he believed he could get what he wanted and how he wanted. His definition of loyalty changed, but he still wanted that trophy to call his own. Because not getting that trophy would be a failure at his end, which would mean he is not worthy. And that for his was unacceptable.
Joe used his situation to make him into quite a script writer. He developed great organizational skills and the ability to influence without real authority, to strategically plan, to be one step ahead because, it turned out, he had developed a mild obsession about Edna too and he wanted her to be his!
Neither of them asked Edna what she wanted, what she was feeling. They both were manipulating her to feel good about themselves. They both had developed tunnel vision, with their goal clear in their head and worked towards it with conviction, not taking into account their own dreams, context, goals. They were each consumed by not the application process, future prospects, reality but by a figment of their imagination, a goal that had not been vetted out.
Lisa, Edna’s classmate, watched from the sidelines this drama unfold. She was aghast that someone would play with someones emotions to this extent. She watched Edna become quiet and under-confident from being the live wire of their college. She watched Edna become lonely and insecure with no one to share her emotional state with. Lisa became Edna’s God sent angel. Lisa took the initiative to help Edna, but it was Edna who came forward in faith because she needed someone to make her feel happy again. Someone she could talk to, someone who would understand her and then be that guiding force to help her move in the right direction.
With Lisa’s guidance, Edna was able to turn in her applications to where she wanted before the deadline hit. She was able to decouple from her best friend and boy friend and realize what a mess they had created for all of them. She was able to distinguish fact from fiction and doing that gave her strength to move her conscious energy into building herself up. She suddenly had extreme clarity in thought and motivation to invest in herself, rather than those around her. She moved that thought into tangibles that she could control that took her closer to where she wanted to be. She had found her authentic core, and that core was guiding her, into who she was willing to become and the effort needed to get there. She developed new connections, new friends. It was a pity that she was so consumed by these two boys in her life that she failed to realize all the fantastic people not only in her class but in her grade. She was free spirited once again but now anchored with beliefs and guiding principles that allowed her to be happy, float from one group to another, talking, laughing making memories and compensating for time lost in sorrow and unrest.
When her admission letter came in, just like a taking off a band-aid, she informed both Joe and Karl, she would be leaving for Austin in a few months. Despite the fact that she had prepared well for her talk, she broke down and recanted what they each had done to themselves and her and to what effect. The bubble finally broke for Karl and Joe while they realized how frivolous they’ve been. They missed essential deadlines running after the wrong dreams. Even though Edna was emotional, she remained strong and composed. “We are done”, she said, “my relationship with you comes to an end and we will not be in touch ever again. I wish you both the very best and all the success in life”. With that she walked out and never looked back again.
The children had their jaws drop open, a million thoughts running through their mind. Grandma Edma as always in control of the conversation. She allowed no randomization. Instead she quickly pulled our racing thoughts to the lesson summary for them, like she always did:
Fight to hold on to those who fight back for you 👊👊👊👊 Learn to let go of those who are but temporary travelers 👣👣
Every relationship that felt good at some point (professional or personal) cannot last for life. Wisdom is knowing when to let go, because only then, you can ‘see’ other opportunities in your life.
When you are funneled in your thought about a task, solution, relationship, that unfortunately seems like the only reality for you. You are so consumed in it, that life external to that does not exist.
When help comes knocking in your neighborhood, seek it. A little bit of help maybe your magic potion to get back alive and kicking. https://youtu.be/CZVpAqbOg60 – Modern Life Coaching
Invest in understanding who you are, your core. Identify what matters to you most. https://youtu.be/Yx0UJcRPf34 – Journey to your personal growth
Relationship is a 2 way street, professional or personal. There cannot be only 1 person driving it.
When you work in an environment that is conducive, you are at your free spirited best and that’s where your skill and creativity will thrive.
The path to success is through flexibility. Rigid plans, decisions, relationships, rules, all become inefficient at some point in time. Don’t put yourself in a box of rigid rule-making or following that you cannot get out of.
Many times in life, the Universe (or God for those spiritual people) sends resources /angels to help you get out of sticky situations. Develop the strength to ‘accept’ when you need help. Help is not going to last waiting for you to get strong. For that, work acceptance & humility proactively in your mindset.
There is no substitute to clarity in thought. Well thought ideas, will almost always lead a well thought plan and execution.
Invest in varying human connections, each one with its own virtue to offer. https://youtu.be/OxvFqwqQ0HY -part 1 (Human connections- keys to a successful relationship) https://youtu.be/KmPtN79ikdE – part 2 (Human connections- keys to a successful relationship)
Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself when someone betray’s you in thought or action. Re-channelize your emotion into building you up. See https://youtu.be/SyNO2Mabat0 (How to react and deal with betrayal at a high level)
There is no substitute to hard work & resilience. https://youtu.be/PoiT6TZAAuk – Buddhist Toolkit for a better living.
Set the right kind of goals.
Do not take anyone or anything in life for granted. Everything is fluid, including us.
Developing a fixed mindset harms you the most!
Believe in yourself. The only person who can stop you from succeeding is “you”!
Right company creates right values. Peer group matters at every stage of your life.
Rustic and simple relationships, sometimes teach you the most important lessons in life!
Failure is not the end, it is the beginning, a new opportunity to find yourself and build skill and competency.
That turned out to be quite a few lessons Grandma! While we were only just attempting to parse and understand each of them, we could hear gentle snoring. Grandma Edna was done for the night. And so were we seems like. We knew what was going to come in our dreams tonight, this story and all the lessons that came with it, in the hope that it would stick on to make us strong and composed like she was.