Sometimes it doesn’t serve us well to follow our instincts.
When I was little, I don’t know, maybe nine, I remember one of the many times Dad tried to teach me how to throw and catch a football on our front lawn, under the huge tree that seemed to always block me. Dad had played college-ball on scholarship at Duke University where he promptly blew out his knee; one of the many orthopedic problems he’s known. However, he still had his arm and his gentle way of making me feel like he really enjoyed lopping the ball over short distances with me and my awkward hands.
Catch the ball right here, into your arm like you’d cradle a baby.
Nobody needs to try that many times before learning that footballs are hard and pointy and hurt a lot when we catch them wrong. Purposefully putting my body in front of that spinning high-speed object didn’t feel safe.
Get in there and watch it the whole way make contact with you as you catch it.
My eyes were still shut when he said that. I was trying not to cry but I was pretty sure my fingers were going to look differently when I opened them.
Here came more less obvious instruction,
Let your arms and hands give a little, while you catch, closing down on the ball as you let it push you.
People throw all sorts of things at us in the space between “me and thee.” It can hurt to catch and even physically damaging. But counterintuitively, we need to catch like we are cradling a baby, get in there, and give way a little.
This isn’t always advisable but it refers to opportunities to practice presence. Not every interpersonal moment is such an opportunity. Nor will each true opportunity be received naturally or effectively. Those will improve with practice, or perhaps coaching or medical intervention.
The other day, Frida told me with some self-satisfaction about the long hoped for day when she stayed with her daughter during her daughter’s anger, rather than escaping. She gave space for her daughter to throw her pain around. Frida cradled her in her personal space long enough to receive and throw back. For Frida, what she threw back was the next effort of growth. That day we celebrated the presence she was able to offer her daughter and herself.
Now get in there Frida, let it come into you. Give way to some of the momentum or you’ll drop it, and cradle what you catch.
For Frida to do this, she owned her choice to find the presence and to do the work to gain the skill. As I am a medical physician of the brain, you might guess we worked on her illnesses. Frida stayed, received her presence in the company of her daughter – and we celebrated.
Self-Care Tip #284 – Give way to some of the momentum and cradle what you want to be present with.