Once you know…

If you’ve checked in on the blog more than a couple of times, chances are that you’ve read about our team’s experiences as staff members at Diana’s Grove Mystery School: The philosophy, the lessons we learned singly and collectively, and the depth of our gratitude for those experiences. Today will be another one of those posts.

I like to believe that I jumped into this life to learn (or re-learn) certain things. If that’s true, then without a doubt one of those things that I signed on to learn is this: Once you know, you can’t not know. A simple enough thing, on the surface, of course. Like so many simple things, though, I find it cropping up again and again in different aspects of my life.

(I should probably note that these particular words are mine – the idea was introduced with a great deal more poetry than I have in my internal translation.)

In any case. Once you know, you can’t not know. This idea became a foundational piece of my life the moment I heard it during a discussion about leadership at Diana’s Grove, and I’ve been reminded of it over and over again since that first introduction. To me, it essentially means this: I no longer get to pretend that I don’t know the thing I know. I can always choose to ignore what I know, or to deny it to others, but I never, ever, get to lie to myself about it. Once I recognize my impact in a situation – whether it’s a ritual, a meeting at work, a conversation with my friends – I can no longer pretend that I don’t have impact.

And damn, would it be nice to pretend that sometimes. To believe that it’s someone else’s job to address the issue that’s derailing the group. To believe that my disengagement isn’t making things worse. To believe that I don’t matter.

Note, though, that I can certainly behave as though those things are true. And I do, frankly, more often than I’d like to admit. I see the thing that should be said, and I remain silent. I know that what’s most needed in the moment is engagement and energy, and I turn to my smartphone instead. I recognize that space needs to be made for the right action (even if it’s not my action to take) and I wait for someone else to make that space. The thing is, though, no matter how good an actor I am, I can’t convince myself that I don’t have a part to play. I already know, and I’ve known for a while. I gave up the right to fool myself a while ago.

So the lesson before me, I guess, is this: I need to stop spend less time feeling guilty about what I know damned well I ought to have done (and am capable of doing), and instead do the thing. Or to put it a little more directly: I need to stop feeling bad, and start doing better.

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2 thoughts on “Once you know…

  1. Janice Chadha Khan December 2, 2015

    This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I teach and practice community organization (social work) and it is easy, over the long haul, to just get plain discouraged and tired, and truly want others to “step up” more substantially. I am weary of witnessing behaviors filled with what I perceive to be “hate” and trying to reframe it so I can in some way think well of the people engaged in those behaviors at some level and actually move forward to work with them. (To understand some of this, I live in St. Louis).

    I have tried to attribute this “wearyness” to age, to having done what I do for so long, and maybe a bit of burnout. However, I feel re-engaged! The Queen of Swords and the Ace of Wands are speaking to me. The Cornerstones are shaking my soul. I am ready to move forward–well, as soon as I grade the last 45 papers…

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  2. Jason Frey December 2, 2015

    That is awesome, Janice. The Queen of Swords is one of my favorite cards, and I really love the idea of invoking her as an archetype of certain kinds of right action. Thanks for that image!

    Also, good luck with the (hopefully dwindling) remaining papers to grade! 🙂

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