because

20 May

Only one friend  has ever told me her IQ;  she had a high one, and she much identified with her quick comprehension and multiple, impressive degrees.  I enjoyed her edgy sarcasm that felt refreshing amongst all the proper moms on the playground.

But her cleverness, after a few glasses of wine, became a cruel streak which she used to debilitate others and build herself up.  She came into my life with a gift; she helped me to demystify the mind.  She helped me see that being intelligent and well-educated did not lead one to happiness and heart opening.  Obvious, I know, but up to that point, I had some faulty thoughts in this area.

She also helped me to detach from the importance of my own words.  I remember the feeling of being hurt whenever I was cut off in conversation.  This friend, in her verbal cruelty, showed me that  a cut off  in conversation might be a blessing, a break to take a breath, switch gears, a chance to be more mindful in our words.     What this friend began in me has been furthered by my kids:  they get so tired of my words and explanations.

They are always cutting me off.

They say to me all the time, “just tell me what you want me to do; don’t say because.”      They want me to just say what I want, but not to say why.

Often, when I use an explanation for whatever I am asking, or doing, or thinking, there is no explanation necessary.

I am grateful for the reason to stop and just trust what they are telling me.   For a while when they said to me, “Don’t say because,” I was confused…what does that mean?    They were showing me that mostly the WHY is self-evident and over-explanation is tedious to listen to.  Let me give an example:

“You really need to clean up your room because you have been losing things lately and your dirty clothes are not making it into the hamper to get clean.”  Ugh.  I don’t like even typing that.

They know all of this already.  I can say:  “Clean up your room.  Put your dirty clothes in the laundry.”

Or better yet,  “What do you think needs to be done in your room today?”

This over-explaning does not only apply to parenting.  I am beginning to suspect it is more universal.

When Eden was sitting beside me while I was grading essays, she told me to stop explaining so much.  I  feel compelled to write out explanations to students telling them not only what is incorrect, but also explaining why it is incorrect and explaining how to correct.  Goodness, overkill!  “They don’t read all of that, mom.  If they really want to understand, they will look it up or they will ask you.”

Something clicks inside of me.

Ah, explanations are a lack of trust!

I feel like I need to explain my actions or requests “because”  I don’t trust you to get it; or I don’t trust myself in asking for it.  I am not trusting my students to learn on their own when I offer all of this explanation.  And the truth, they don’t read all of my statements; most just look for the number grade and move on.  All that work, dust in the wind.  🙂

I am going to work on eliminating the word “because” in my home and at school and see if I can.

I think I will speak more clearly, more powerfully.

Why?

Well, the answer isn’t because…

 

16 Responses to “because”

  1. Andrea May 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I really, REALLY needed this today. No further explanation needed. 🙂

  2. ~meredith May 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Dianne Weist… what a jewel. I can’t speak to the rest of the post, now. shhh… 🙂

    • marga t. May 20, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      Yes; there is irony in my over explicative post, eh? I love all the many sides of Dianne Weist! now back to shhhhh 🙂

  3. Andrea May 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    And…it seems I can’t shut my mouth so easily. BUT. I just read this yesterday (it’s a little harsh, as Don Juan keeps it very real):

    “Don’t explain yourself to much. Sorcerers say that in every explanation there is a hidden apology. So, when you are explaining why you cannot do this or that, you’re really apologizing for your shortcomings, hoping that whoever is listening to you will have the kindness to understand them.
    Every one of us, young and old alike, is making figures in front of a mirror in one way or another. Tally what you know about people. Think of any human being on this earth, and you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that no matter who they are, or what they think of themselves, or what they do, the result of their actions is always the same: senseless figures in front of a mirror.”

    I absolutely see that when I explain to my children WHY (wish I could use italics not caps) they should do things, I am subconsciously apologizing to them for asking. I am very challenged at receiving. I can give, give, give, no problem, but if I am at your house and you offer me a glass of water, I will likely decline. As one of my dear friends has learned, you must simply hand me a glass of water without asking, if you’d like me to take it. I do sense that every time I ask anything of anyone, I feel and underlying debt, some warped feeling that I should, for example, clean their rooms if I want their rooms clean. But really, I shouldn’t. (Please forgive me Byron Katie).

    Also, when I look around at people in my life, the strongest are those who do not explain.

    Tuesday morning breakthroughs. I am loving what your dishing up momma!

    • marga t. May 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

      Wow, love the connection with Don Juan – how cool – said as I place a cold, tall glass of ice tea mixed with lemonade into your hand for I would like for you to have it 🙂 I can relate to your dynamics of giving and receiving – and clean rooms (if only they were clean rooms)! And still, only motions we make in front of the mirrors – always! My essay grading was shortened this time without so many explanations – mouths of smarty pants and babies full of good lessons in that mirror motion – I’m loving what you dish right back 🙂 !

  4. ptero9 May 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    “Ah, explanations are a lack of trust!”

    Hi Marga,

    Extremely insightful, just because 🙂

    I can relate to the desire to want people to understand. It still can frustrate me when people don’t seem able to be interested or curious. I may be less inclined now to torture someone with my rants (well, I still am guilty of this), but I do mourn the lack of curiosity in these modern times.

    I also had a genius friend who, although cruel at times, really helped me to not be so afraid of verbal sparring. He also taught me something about thinking that helped me to not be so sensitive towards what or how others talked or thought, or as you say, to detach from the importance of my own words.

    xxx
    Debra

    • marga t. May 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      Thank you for connecting with your insights, Debra. It is interesting to view the relationships that come into our lives and the lessons they bring, which through another lens may be none too positive.
      I too have mourned the lack of curiosity, but with this Maymester class, when I took the time to make the students write and write, though it meant more grading for me, I have been uncovering areas where their curiosity was evident, though buried to me upon first glance. Perhaps many new earthlings express their curiosity in different ways; Jury out, but fingers crossed. Taking an interest in them often lights them up – I creep some out – but most light up. xo! marga

  5. Michael May 22, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    Well, I’d like to think that if I were your student I would benefit mightily from your taking the time to share not only the what, but the why as well. The classroom seems (to me) like it could be different than child-rearing, and sometimes a child may have a hard time recognizing the gifts of their parents…? I find that when wearing my hat as a mentor and manager in a technical field, surrounded by analytical types who are not necessarily great communicators, rounding out the what with the why can make all the difference. Transparency strikes me as a path to vulnerability, and I think it often helps people working together to understand the bigger picture. I may be off, but in some settings it strikes me there is a caring in taking the time to give and share perspective and background. It is also possible everyone is rolling their eyes on the inside…

    In a bit of irony, I read this yesterday for the first time just as I received a link from a colleague to a University of Texas commencement address given by a Navy Admiral sharing life lessons learned in Navy Seal Training. Lesson one was about making your bed, with some straightforward discussion about why… I suppose you could always tell your daughters to watch this, with no explanation, (minute 4:45 or so begins the relevant piece), and then see if they still think they have it bad coming from you… 🙂

    http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech/

    But I do know that at times my explanations can be tedious. They’re tedious when they are preaching I think. When they’re a showing off. When they’re a sledge hammer on a small tack. When the point is obvious and need not be made. When they’re anything other than the expression of the desire to uplift and support. It is a fine line. I am thinking part of being a child at some point is not wanting to hear anymore of our parents reasons why. Right, wrong, or indifferent, a developing being wants to call their own shots, no? I’ll do what Mom asks, because in many ways this makes perfect sense, but I’m just not interested in why right now… You still get to instruct me, and I love you enough to honor that, but my brain needs to draw its own conclusions for a time. But can we just make this exchange a little more efficient!!!?

    I obviously have an issue in this department. With long-windedness also. I’m not convinced offering explanation is an apology all the time. But I see how it could be a “talking down to” at times. I could see how it could be a style of defensiveness. It’s all about context isn’t it?

    None of this matters, though, as I wish to echo your desire to speak powerfully. That… needs no explanation.

    Michael

    • marga t. May 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

      Michael,
      Your response has stayed with me in different aspects all day especially, since today was the last day of Maymester. How wonderful is the generosity of an expansive mind and giving heart, such as yours’, that can take ideas and look at them from different angles – like holding up a prism into the sun light – let us see what all is here from every angle in the light – a gift of time and attention.

      The admiral and I are filling in the diversity of the spectrum quite nicely; falling on a different ends of the light wave patterns of humanhood; I enjoy, from a distance, the certainty and clarity of this military discipline in contrast to such various grey tones that can debilitate me with options. What a wonderful connecting idea to our home struggles. I am going to spring this share on these girls soon, when I can make them be still! It is funny how they can think I am long-winded when by contrast, many people have found my habits a bit taciturn, at times.

      As far as the students go, You are so right that they can benefit from the whys – for sure, and the evidence from your work world is enlightening, but the way I was going about it was inefficient and impossible to maintain. I am finding that building in one-on-one time where I can detect the students’ comprehension of what I am saying and thus I can convey the information much more efficiently is a better option. My method of writing communication on essays was taking too long and wasn’t being received but by about 5% in that format. So I have restructured my summer class to include more one-on-one conferences for essays!

      I am right on the cusp of change as my youngest is going to college this Fall – hopefully she will have gained what she needed or will know how to go about getting it as she sets out with or without the whys. I know this isn’t the end, but the dynamic is changing and perhaps this mishmash of ideas in this post are a bit nostalgic for the now as it slips into the new.

      Thank you for giving me the space to explain – without apology. Happy flow into the weekend, for you!

      Marga

      • Michael May 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

        “The admiral and I are filling in the diversity of the spectrum quite nicely.” I loved that line, the whole paragraph, really. There can definitely be something appealing about the certainty and clarity with which the Admiral speaks, but there is a place where I have too many questions yet to be so committed to the necessity of bed-making. I hope your girls can see the underlying unity embodied in a continuum…

        What you say about your approach to teaching makes a ton of sense. Thank you for sharing that perspective. It seems like you will be able to be more present, with greater ease, with those who are really seeking you out, which makes 200% sense.

        Michael

  6. seeingm May 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Because I can intuitively feel what others are feeling and often predict outcomes before they happen, based on this I think this is where my becauses have come in. I know that in the past (and even sometimes now) I have wanted to deliver any slapping words that needed to be said in a blow with a little booboo make better warm pack wrapped around them. I hadn’t wanted conflict and I hadn’t wanted to appear to offend or make another feel “bad”.

    However ANYTHING spoken from a place of true unconditional love need never be couched. It will be felt as truth on a deep level whether it is in spoken form or just felt in the look or in ones presence.

    My insecurities historically have tended to play out less boldly in passive aggressive to retreating style by marking of territory rather than full frontal verbal attack. But at a 125, maybe I am not quite enough of an intellect to take genus to the mat head on. (Put that number in just now so you can share the lol lol and lol I am having currently as I am typing this sentence). Us edukated folk dun needs two shick togather 🙂 .

    The true measure of any relevance or importance for me is in ones HQ – heart quotient, and you, Ms M, (and really anyone you draw to read or write here!!!) are off the chart!

    -xx.M

    • marga t. May 25, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Sister M,
      I am enjoying the many layers of your share here, and can relate to the anticipatory nature of my interactions, as well. All the people who wish for the super power of mind-reading don’t realize what a complication it can be 🙂 The Dunce cap is worn proudly at times and with joy in the freedom the space of unknowing allows! Putting things into this wordpress mirror always sends back to me such interesting reflections – some of the more naked and unformed posts, which make me feel like hitting the “unpublished” key as soon as they are released, yield such interesting angles and images back that I get to readjust and balance my world again and again, each time.
      Kisses and waves sent to the sky! xo! m

  7. Kelly Kuhn May 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    “Don’t speak!” is apropos for me these days. I read this post the moment I received the email, and it was such perfection, and I wanted to tell you that. But then I couldn’t find the words. So I saved the email and read it again just now, hoping to tell you how much I relate and how much you taught me a good lesson. I want to go on and on, mostly to connect with you (I’m feeling extremely disconnected and alone these days). Yet I am still in a place of needing to be silent. Obviously, I’m cheating! I do love your posts, marga t.

    • marga t. May 29, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

      (kelly, this is a telepathic message so to not disturb your silent time:) I wonder how many mothers of daughters are put on mute fairly often… I reach out to you in the swirling feelings of disconnection with a squeeze, always here when the silence gives way to words or song again! (we have a small circle of connectedness and more than a few have gone silent lately! I wasn’t on that memo.) love you, lovely lady. m

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