22.2.18 Night tree
I've been thinking about gentleness today. I thought about it as I rested, and again as I scootered three streets home in the dark with my son quiet by my side. About how hard it is to be truly gentle, and how life seems determined, always, to push us into sharpness. Even usually kind natures seem to carry ready thorns, pushed inwards in self-punishment, or poised to prickle out in fear, in anger, in defensiveness. How rare it is to find someone who is gentle through and through, in and out; gentle both to others and themselves, gentle in both their thoughts and in their reactions. How can gentleness be that difficult? It feels like it should be such an easy thing.
It is my greatest sorrow that life's hard times seem to sharpen us, making us all edges and hard lines. I don't blame us for that, not one bit, but I see it and I wish it wasn't so.
I see it in myself, time and time again. That instinct to clench and harden and close off every time something goes awry. I feel it happen, and the more things go wrong, the more tempting it is to revert to it: to bitterness, to anger. For me it all happens quietly, well hidden, and is pointed in at myself more than anything. For all my gentleness, even for someone who never says a harsh word aloud, I am still so full of harshness some days. When I am threatened, I feel the spines grow and my walls come up and it is all so rigid, all hardness and fight and defence.
I want so much to have a gentle heart. A truly gentle heart that doesn't carry hidden daggers pointed inside or out. I guess I'm learning the truth: that although we think of gentleness as an absence of aggression, perhaps it is actually the biggest fight of all. To harden, to sharpen: that's the easy road. But to soften, to choose always to melt into gentler thoughts, gentler acts, gentler living, while not losing sight of yourself, while remaining something solid and whole and healthy in the middle. That's what takes a warrior's strength, isn't it? That's what takes the deepest resolve. And I so want to be that brave. I so want to be that strong.
I didn't manage it today. Over and over, I shall just have to keep trying. Over and over to my heart, I shall say: "be soft, be soft, be soft."