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Lately, I have had trouble being around a family member who has been doing work at my house. He believes and frequently tells me all the stories about himself, especially the ones in which he sees himself as "victim". He experiences the world as very negative and easily gets impatient and angry with himself as well as others. I was impatient with and judgmental of him internally, and avoided listening to him for very long before I had to change the subject. I had loaned him a copy of "A New Earth," not sure he would read it.

One night we had harsh words on the phone when I said I was under stress about my doctor's appointment the coming week and not to come work the next day. He was upset to find out so late--"Go ahead, join all the other customers who pull out at the last minute," he told me. We finally agreed he would come after all and just leave me be.

I have been reading Tolle's "Stillness Speaks" and was struck by his talking about relationships and the importance of experiencing others not as the "conditioned self" they believe in and which they present to you. He says believing that conditioned self is the real person is like "imprisoning both of you." And of course, he suggests instead to see beyond that false self to the "essence" within the other person.I kept thinking about those words and realized I couldn't change my relative, but I could change myself--in the way I perceived both him and myself. I began asking for guidance in how to do this.

What happened when he showed up the next day was quite surprising. He brought me a rose and said he knew he was not good with words but wanted to be supportive of me, one of the few members of his family he has left. I was very touched and thanked him for being so sweet. What followed was an unusually mellow and productive day. We managed to stay in the moment more. Later he shared with me, not his negative stories, but the fact that he has been reading "A New Earth" bit by bit. The rose is still beautiful on my kitchen table; I think of it as "the bloom of the present moment."