Monday, October 22, 2007

Consensual Living

We visited Volcanoes National Park yesterday. I know you are asking what that has to do with Consensual Living but believe me it does. I am always asked about finding agreeable solutions when two people want different things (or more people). It seems in theory that two people with different, opposing, wants will not find a solution where they will both be happy. I say that you have to remember that it is OK to change your mind when more information is available, and in a family where everyone's thoughts, feelings, ideas etc, are considered with care, and everyone is working toward an agreeable solution that they know is out there; family members are not hanging onto their wants so strongly. They are more willing to listen to other's wants and needs and consider them as well, and are more easily able to change their own desires in those situations etc.

I know it is hard to think in hypothetical and get my meaning across so I thought I would use an actual event that happened yesterday that was so touching to me and really demonstrates how changing your mind is not the same as "giving in" or "giving up". My boys amaze me each and every day and really reafirm why I believe so much in Consensual Living.

We were walking around the lava flows all day and there is one place where you can see active lava. But you have to go there at night, it is about a mile hike, and you take a chance that it will be a clear night and you will see the glow of the lava. We all wanted to see the lava, I mean how cool is that and we may not have this opportunity again. So we waited until just before dark, you know it is just dark enough so you can't really see the trail clearly, and will give a good view if you can see the lava. We had a flashlight, long sleeved shirts, water, and we started out. It had just started drizzling rain out, not heavy at all. We walked and we walked. It did get dark but we were prepared for that. The trail is marked with reflectors so you can know you are heading in the right direction. I should say it isn't really an easily followed trail because it is across the lava so not a "worn" path like in the woods.

We were having fun, seeing people coming out. Although they all said you couldn't see anything because of the fog. We decided to keep going to see for ourselves. I mean come on, maybe our eye sight is just better (LOL). Well as we kept going Phil started to say things like "I am getting cold can we turn around" etc. No he didn't want a jacket or to be carried etc. I thought to myself, I know Phil is a worrier, he wants to know where anyone is going, when they plan to be back, take a cell phone, etc. That is his nature and we love this about him. So I don't think it has anything to do with the cold. [OK this is where finding out the real wants and needs comes in]. I know what he is saying but don't think that is what he is THINKING. So I just suggest that it is OK if it really isn't about the cold, it is OK if you just want to go back to the car, or something to that effect.

Well that provided just the opportunity he needed, "I'm scared, it's dark, I didn't think it would be this far, we don't know where the end is" and all these feelings just came up. And he wanted to go back to the car.....and he was getting more anxious by the minute.

I know Dallen was wanting to go try to see the lava, Dallen had been saying this all day. So I am thinking in my head that it might take some thinking to come up with a solution everyone will be happy with.

Well Dallen just blurts out, "let's go back to the car. It is more important that Phil NOT be freaked out by this than it is to get to the end".

I was surprised but not totally. Of course his need would be for Phil to be safe and FEEL safe, more than he would need to try to see the lava. He loves his brother, and also he knows that if he really wants to see the lava we will make it happen in a way that works for everyone. All the walk back to the car you could feel Phil's anxiety lifting, his spirits brighten. Dallen would say "that hike was great". "I loved the feel of the mist on my face." "What a great day". Just such loving statements with not even a thought of "if it weren't for you we would have made it to the end". Dallen knew he could make a real statement about his needs. He knew that we would not just make him leave and go back to the car if that isn't what he really wanted. So it was easier for him to change his desire with the new information.

When we got back to the car I suggested that if Dallen and Jackson, dh, wanted to hike back out there, Phil and I could wait in the car for them. Phil would be happy with that and we could watch a movie. "No". Dallen wanted to be with Phil, and they talked and talked and watched movies in such a loving way all the drive back to the resort. Just laughing and joking and talking about games they wanted to create etc.

When we got back to the resort we talked a little about maybe taking a helicopter ride to see the lava flow. A possibility, but neither of the boys seemed overly thrilled with that, LOL. Now I just need to let it go. Now it is me wanting to see that Dallen's need to see the lava is met. When in FACT, he no longer has that need. His need changed the minute he saw that Phillip was in some distress.


dharmamama said...

Yep, you've done it again - I'm all teary-eyed! What a wonderful story. Hope you don't mind - I posted it to the CL list, I thought it was such an inspiring example.

I think it's funny how we can get stuck on someone else's wants when they've moved on! Nice reminder to stay in the moment.

Pam Genant said...

Sure not a problem. Sometimes, at least for me anyway, it is easier to get the idea of a "theory" with a good example.