Is effort required?
-anonymous Joyfully Bea blog reader

Do I owe her anything more? Is it okay to let go of a difficult relationship primarily because it is difficult and always has been the entire decade we have known each other? Does she know I can count on one hand the number of moments we have shared that have been satisfying?

Why do I so fear conflict? Why be afraid when someone disagrees and doesn’t like something I’ve done, I’ve said? Why on the outside do we look nothing like our insides? How can I leave things this way – scattered text messages signaling the end of a significant friendship? Why aren’t there divorce-like papers to sign when a close friendship is lost?

Is effort required? Can there be ease as I reach toward things that are challenging and feel impossible? Where did I learn to shoulder things alone, to carry the weight all on my back? Who am I when I am at rest? Where am I struggling? What is the struggle illuminating for me? Where can I let go? What can’t I let go of? What has to be pried from my fists before I will relinquish it?

How can I say no? How can I prioritize what’s most important to me? What are my needs right now? What do I do all this stuff for? Why make an effort? Why care about anything? Is effort required? Is caring the point? How do I keep my heart open in the midst of betrayal, disappointment, and mistrust in relationships? Who is a true friend? What does real friendship require?

What does it require of me to relate to people? To relate to myself? What do I need in order to feel willing in relationships? What is the point of relationships really? Am I alone? Am I held? Am I one with something I can’t see but still exists? Am I deluded into thinking I know myself? If my emotions and thoughts are fleeting – why do they interest me so much? Who am I in the dark, under the covers, naked?

Where do humans get off believing in right/wrong, good/bad, either/or? Why are we so into ultimatums as a culture? I mean who really needs that? Where have I been? Where am I going? What am I doing now, here?

Where did we get this idea that everyone has to like everyone else all the time? That everyone has to like what we do, how we choose to live our lives, and if we’re not popular then something is wrong with our choices? What if we can train ourselves to accept people we don’t like or agree with and live in harmony with them, without destroying ourselves and the planet in the process of trying to convert them to our cherished point of view?

What if the kindest thing I can think to do in relationship to someone I have a hard time with is to avoid them? To refrain from engaging directly until I have some more spaciousness inside to interact? What if absence really does make the heart grow fonder? What if there is value in dropping the connections that we have with others – for a day, a month, a year – and seeing what it is like when we come back together again? What if letting go really makes sense?

What if I stopped using the words “my, I, me, and mine” for a week? What would I talk about then? Who would “I” be then?

Is effort required? Can there be ease as I reach toward seemingly impossible challenges? Where did I learn to shoulder things alone, to carry the weight all on my back? Who am I when I am at rest? Where am I struggling? What is the struggle illuminating for me? Where can I let go? Where can I not let go? What has to be pried from my fists before I will relinquish?

Writing prompt: Take a question that grabs you from this commentary or elsewhere and let your pen run wild on the page for a set amount of time. You could write more questions, you could postulate your own theories. Just keep the pen moving and make space for whatever wants to come out.

Text and images by Beandrea Terese Davis. Copyright 2009. Check with author before reprinting.

“Is effort required?” is the second installment of a series called Live the questions that is ongoing through 2009. The question was contributed through the Live the Questions Experiment Portal which is available for your anonymous inquiries here. Based on the idea of learning “to love the questions themselves”, as Rilke put it, this is a space for communal inquiry into Life’s many questions.