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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Courtesy

'Suppose in taking a break from my whirling thoughts, I settle down quietly to think about the word "courtesy". It means far more than mere politeness; you can be polite without an iota of personal love. Courtesy, on the other hand, is an expression of love, warm concern for the other person's comfort, peace of mind and well-being. Even giving directions to a confused stranger can be an act of courtesy, if I take the trouble to be explicit and reassuring. 
'The practice of courtesy in the home gives us many opportunities each day to convey our love in little ways. Yet we often overlook it in routine contacts with those we love.
'I will take every opportunity to be courteous to those nearest me, as well as those outside my orbit. The warmth and kindness of courtesy will take the sting out of resentments, and give dignity and importance to the members of my household, making them feel secure and loved.
 
'Courtesy makes a less troublesome game of life. Misunderstandings melt away; it gets rid of the avoidable obstructions.'
-- The Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II, p 159


The question today is, how can we show more courtesy to those we encounter, those in our intimate circle and those with whom we merely cross paths for a moment? Why is this important? How does it help us?

The answer is The Sun. It shows a faery woman inviting us to join the spiral dance toward the single tree atop a hill, which is crowned by a glowing faery glyph, the sun. We can show more courtesy to those in our intimate circle by sharing with them in the joyous aspects of existence, rather than the dark. At the risk of sounding trite, be nice. Talk about nice things. Don't dwell on gloom. Not every conversation has to solve the world's problems, or pinpoint the little things that annoy you about life, the world, and any one person in particular.
Why is this important? Dreamer Prince, aka Knight of Swords. I have been drawing this card a lot lately. The verse accompanying this card is:

He dreams of more than any could know
But they are seeds he cannot sow
His winged thoughts fly upon the air
Never to land within a prayer...

It seems important to practice courtesy, to 'be nice', because the Dreamer Prince can get very caught up in his thoughts. His tremendous sense of right and wrong can lead him to behave quite rashly. He can see battles where no battle is required, or even possible. Of all the courts, he is most likely to tilt at windmills. In the Anna K Tarot, for example, he is depicted as vigorously attacking a strawman -- an enemy that exists only in his imagination. The Dreamer Prince suggests that it is important to show courtesy to avoid seeing everyone and everything as some sort of mental adversary, as a threat to his personal 'liberty' or integrity.


Courtesy to others helps us enjoy our lives and our relationships.

When the whole shines full and round
The three blithe dancers may be found
Skipping for the joys of life
For friendship and forgotten strife...

Perhaps the 'three blithe dancers' are mind-body-spirit. When we work to create an atmosphere of kindness and courtesy, when we resist the urge to indulge the Dreamer Prince in his righteous battles, we create conditions that allow for strife to be forgotten, and simple joys to be experienced.

In summary, this advice comes as no surprise. The surprise is how easy it is to forget the obvious logic of all this. When we are so close, so intimate with people, for some strange reason it is easy to forget to show them basic courtesy. I've mentioned before that I think this probably has to do with how we treat ourselves. As we get close to someone, we come to think of them as part of ourselves, an extension of ourselves. And if we have a habit of being mean to ourselves, expecting too much of ourselves, being cruel to ourselves -- well, we do it them, too.

Let's stop.

4 comments:

  1. Nice post! Lots of people mistake kindness for a weakness, however it takes great personal strength for people to remain kind and courteous in challenging circumstances :)

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    1. What a shame if people do that. I know what you mean, though. Particularly in a relationship, we feel it's important to stand our ground, and being 'nice' could be seen as being a doormat. Not true, though! :)

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  2. Interesting discussion of courtesy, I've never really differentiated it from politeness. And yes, not one of the Knight of Swords' strong suits. Yet so worth it, to enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the company of others. As you say, let's stop being mean to ourselves and others :)

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    1. No, I had never really thought of it in that way, either, and that is why the reading I opened this post with struck me as worthy of exploration. Developing courtesy is, I think, a process, just like everything else. :)

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