As is by Rebecca Crichton, Seattle, Washington
Good friends recently told me about a new strategy they have for dealing with conflict. They extrapolated it from listening to Jack Kornfield, one of the founders and major teachers in the Vipassana school of Buddhism. Most people know it as the practice of Mindfulness, a culturally accepted concept that can be applied to everything from eating to doing business.
Kornfield was sharing how he had decided what to say at a recent wedding he was officiating at. He described having been at a Used Car lot and wandering among the cars. He noticed how each car had its descriptive list of make and miles, features and other details. At the bottom of each list were the words: As Is.
Kornfield saw a connection between those words and the upcoming wedding ceremony. When he blessed the couple, he told them that he hoped their marriage would be based on loving each other As Is.
My friends adopted the term. Now, when they get edgy with each other – they actually manage conflict better than anybody else I know – they remind each other of their acceptance of each other As Is. It always makes them laugh which always reduces the tension.
I’ve been thinking about the wisdom in those two words. I think how often I don’t accept myself As Is. How provisional my self-approval can be. At any given time, I think I need to be different. I need to lose weight or eat better or be in touch with others or get to the writing I keep putting off.
I also get annoyed and judge friends for the things they do which I think they should change. It could be things they say, ways they behave, how they show up. I don’t remind myself about why we are friends, our histories, why we love each other.
In our society, we are somehow always wanting to be more, have more, be the first, measure up. We all know the drill where whatever it is, it is never enough. There always has to be the next thing that proves we are worthy of love, of attention, of validation.
I am declaring to myself that I am fine As Is. I need to allow myself to be enough, to appreciate the life I have created. If I can’t remember that the people I choose to be with are fine as they are, I shouldn’t be in relationship with them.
Nobody should have to live on probation in their own minds and those of others. If there are ways to correct what we do that causes us or others harm, then we need to do something about it. There are many ways to go about doing that, from doing therapy to making amends or speaking with someone else we trust.
And it’s surprising how far a good dose of compassion for ourselves and others can go to seeing those situations differently, with deeper understanding and open hearts.
Because we are all we have, As Is.