One of the great lessons I have learnt in life is that surface appearances can be misleading. As a youngster, after leaving my university peers, I met a whole new set of associates and they had a very different way of relating to each other from the folks I was used to. Boundaries were more important to them, which seemed a bit cold at that point in time, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I learnt to put them in place for myself.
After a while, I built a network of pals from a more diverse range of backgrounds. Some of those folks were unfamiliar with the notion of being strict about personal boundaries. A great deal of my young adult life was spent on coming to terms with recognising the pros and cons of this state of affairs.
Decades later, I found myself dealing with yet another set of people in a relatively insular culture. On the surface, they appeared to be warm and friendly, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that the warmth was only superficial, (by the standards of what I was accustomed to). It was a shock to the system to be in such a situation, but I like to think I learnt my lessons well.
Spending time in isolation in that community helped me to see that one can do lot of personal growth work, if there is time available to focus on being. Later on, I found the path that I currently travel on – away from distractions and external trappings and towards a form of purity that most of us only knew in our early childhoods.
Economy of gesture and engagement can help to strengthen this way of being. It pays to put emphasis on fixing things within, much more than on the outside.