From One Field To Another, And Beyond

Posted by Dustin Harber on Mar 13, 2020
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[Below is a touching story that Brinda M. shared during our Awakin Circle this week -- on the reading, I Have No Need For An Enemy.]

The passage was beautiful, about "othering" and "not othering," and learning to see that we are one, and to meet each other out in that field, out beyond right and wrong. [...] There have been moments where I was really set on "othering" somebody.

Early in my career, I was trying to transition from one field to another field. And I had a manager, who I was having a hard time with. He was someone I really looked up to. I really looked up to the work that he put out, but I had a very hard time communicating with him, because he was very introverted and he wasn't able to articulate what he was expecting from me.

So I got pretty frustrated and very stressed out. I would just get so mad, because I really liked this person's work -- I knew there was something really great about their creativity -- but I just never knew how to meet their expectations. It's like, you meet one of your idols, but they end up being the worst possible manager you could ever have.

So anyway, I decided to leave his team, and I was really worried. I thought, 'Okay, I'm going to have to quit my job.' This was a great job that I worked very hard to get, that I really coveted at the time. I had many interactions with this manager where I felt like he was just upset with me. He wouldn't allow me to make any changes or leave his team.

And so I spent some time in meditation with my teacher at the time, Harpreet, and he would say, "Brinda, why don't you just send him love? Just forget about what this person is doing to you or how they make you feel every day at work right now. How about you just open your heart and meet them on that plane right now and just send the love right now?"

At the time I was more outcomes driven than I am now. So, I'm like, "Well, you know, nothing's happening, Harpreet. I keep sending him love, but he's still kind of mean to me at work everyday."

And he'd be like, "Well, just continue. Just, just keep doing it. Don't question it."

And then, a few weeks later, I brought up the topic of switching roles and switching teams, and surprisingly, my manager was more supportive than I ever thought he would be. He was actually very calm about the whole thing.

Then, you know, I switched teams. I had a new career and things went about well. I felt so good that he didn't block me at the time. I was like, "All right, well, I sent him love. You know, I still feel bad about that experience, but I'm glad that this thing happened."

Cut to last year. I was out at Burning Man with my husband, and we were just hanging out in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden, I see this guy walking towards me -- and it's my old manager!

I look at him, and I'm like, "Oh, hi. Good to see you." I guess it was mixed feelings -- I wasn't sure if I was that happy to see him.

He looked at me and he was so calm, and he gave me this huge smile and he's like, "Is it okay if I give you a hug?"

I was like, "Yeah, absolutely." I was shocked, but happy, and we both gave each other a big hug.

I said, "Hey man, thanks for letting me switch careers all those years ago because I really love my new job. I love what I do."

And he was like, "Yeah, you were pretty good at [fill in the blank -- all the skillsets that I use now]." (He had never actually said that to me before, so I felt really good about it, because I still respected work.)

Then, he looked at me and he said, "You know what, I want to apologize to you for being a really crappy manager. I think I couldn't do you justice because I had way too much going on, and I didn't really know how to position you. I think I caused you a lot of stress. I'm really sorry."

You know, it's funny, it's as if there is no time, and so, in that moment last year -- which was many years later -- that moment had to happen.

And, all of a sudden, in an instant, everything just dissolved. Like all of that angst and pain and the anxiety and stress that this person had supposedly caused me.

Then, I asked, "So are you still at this company? How is it going? I hope you're doing really well."

He said, "No, I'm no longer at the company."

So I was like, "So what do you do?"

He said, "Well, I'm a monk now. I'm a Zen Buddhist monk. ... I stepped away."

And it was, again, this moment of "sunyata" [formlessness]. Or, this stepping out of the field where all of the things that I think we were both chasing -- all of the success, all of the things that were giving us stress -- all of them dissolved.

Sometimes the effect of this loving kindness happens over a much more stretched out notion of time. And that's okay. :)

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Comments (1)

  • Gayathri Ramachandran wrote ...

    Thanks for sharing this, Brinda, and Dustin! It made me reflect on some difficult work relationships in my life where I tried this method (sending the "difficult" person love or maitri) and nothing shifted noticeably, so I left. But this share zoomed out my perspective on time and healing...Thank you. I really needed to read this today :)