A mentor of mine once gave me advice on personal relationships that I still refer to when it seems fitting. I don’t know about you, but I love extracting quotes from casual conversations and writing them down in a little notepad to remember later. He helped me understand relationships in the sense of a well that either can or cannot provide a consistent source of water. He said, “you walk up to the well time and time again, drop the bucket down, pull it up, and see very clearly it is empty. What will it take for you to realize that it has no water for you? If you look around, you will see there are plenty of other wells overflowing with exactly what you are looking for. Find your wells and go to them. Let the others exist as they are.” This proved to be one of the most insightful lessons on acceptance in relationships and setting boundaries that you might otherwise consider selfish. You learn what is important to nurture and what feels more like an empty well that will take more out of you then it will fill you up. With this, you come to accept and exist peacefully without constantly conjuring up questions, false ideas, worries or, more importantly, self doubt. We all have these in some shape or form in our lives: relationships, duties, social responsibilities, personal commitments, and so on. The Buddhist teachings remind us that the first lessons of mindfulness are to recognize when something is happening that could lead to suffering and to choose the best path to eliminate that suffering before it even has the chance to solidify in our minds.
What do you find in your life to be an empty well and how can you find other ways to fill yourself up? What wells do you tell yourself you need to go to out of habit or duty? What wells do you continue to go back to in hopes that they will fill you up? How can you learn to accept those wells as they are, exist with them, and not let it effect your daily life?
* Side note: The above photo was taken inside Chidambaram, a Hindu temple located in the center of Tamil Nadu, India. We were ecstatic after making our way to see the adorned Nataraja after staying up all night for the anointing ceremony and procession through the streets. Simply put, I was so filled up I could not stop smiling 🙂