If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.
Well, I spent a month with mine, and I realized that I was far from enlightened. There’s something about going back to your roots — and in this case, my hometown, my mother tongue, and my culture also fit into Ram Dass’ equation — that really puts life in perspective.
Actually, I never thought I was enlightened, but I did think that I had done some good work on the life-alienating ways with which I used to communicate. You see, for about two years now, apart from my job as a teacher educator, I have been facilitating a group that meets bi-monthly to practice the conflict resolution process called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Prior to that, I had been doing my own personal studies and had attended many weekend workshops at the NVC center in Seoul. With this experience, I thought I had made strong progress with the basic components of NVC which are:
1. express yourself honestly via observation, feelings, needs and request;
2. listen empathically via observation, feelings, needs and request.
But after a few days in my hometown of Clare, Nova Scotia, I had very little patience to listen, and words of judgment, frustration, and guilt took hold of my mind, and with disappointed ease, trickled from my lips. This was a familiar tone that seemed to be revisiting me during my séjour.
I think this familiar, yet unnerving, tone is somehow connected to my mother-tongue. This area of French-Acadian dialect unique to my hometown. The last time I used this language full time was when I was 17 years old. Since then I’ve made my life blending into the world of Anglophones.is the only place I can use my first language, the
Perhaps speaking Acadian brings me back to my teenage days: days when I thought everyone should understand me; days when I had the least patience and understanding for others.
I can hypothesize many other reasons why this tone — in sound and in speech — came easily to me: it could be the “should (devoir)” dialogue I often heard around me;
Ej t’avais dit que c’allais prendre 9 heures. On aurait dut décoller plus tôt à matin. – I told you that it was going to take 9 hours. We should have left earlier this morning.
Tu devrais aller les visiter avant c’est trop tard. – You should go visite them before it’s too late.
maybe it’s the Catholic guilt; perhaps it’s the dark, sarcastic, cynical humor we use in our daily discourse; and it most probably is that I don’t know how NVC fits into all of this.
This experience was enough to make me doubt my NVC progress; enough to make me wonder if I should keep facilitating. It was enough for me to postpone our group until further notice.
But the beauty of this personal conflict is that it shed a light. What I have learned is that I have a deeply rooted need to cultivate patience. I need to slow down and listen. If I don’t do this, I’ll never be able to practice the NVC components in class or at home.
To make sure I’ve done my work, once I’ve practiced patience for a while, I’ll take Ram Dass’s advice and go back to my hometown for another month to really see how much I’ve progressed :P
PS. Thank you for reading such a late entry.
- Chapter One NVC – Interacting Skills (dfolstad58.wordpress.com)
- Be Love Now: A Visit With Ram Dass (psychologytoday.com)
- Expressing Cultural Pride Acadian Style: Tintamarre! (privatemixture.wordpress.com)