I was just watching Tony Robbins on his blog talking about problems being gifts which we need if we want to grow and develop as human beings and it reminded me forcefully of one of the poems in my second collection of poems, Family and More – Enemies or Friends? , where I talk about the people who have had a big influence on my life (the collection was initially inspired by the fact that I come from a mixed background: German mother, English father, meeting in Germany at the end of WWII, and the fact that for me none of my German relatives could ever be an 'enemy'). The poem in question is about a former boss – one of those bosses from hell I'm sure many of you have also experienced! - someone, who was much more like an 'enemy' to me than any of my German relatives could ever be. I finish off the poem like this:
Is she my hated foe, my enemy,
this woman, this boss
with whom I share no commonality?
How can she be?
She's a citizen of the same country!
But her actions, thoughts and beliefs
are anathema to me -
they make the soul cringe
and leave it icy cold,
making it retreat
into a dark black hole.
If she isn't my enemy, is she my friend?
What is she then?
Perhaps a valuable lesson in life,
from which I can learn and grow.
On second thoughts,
maybe she is more my friend
than I now suspect or know.
Copyright © 2008 Helena Harper
With hindsight, I realise that my former 'boss from hell' was a gift. From her I have learnt the value of treating people with respect, dignity and compassion and I hope I have come to understand the motivation for her actions better. The whole experience was necessary, perhaps, in order to make me a more understanding and forgiving person.
Have you had similar experiences? Do you consider problems to be gifts or are they just a pain in the neck? Are problems negative things for you or do you agree that something positive can be drawn from them, no matter what? I'd love to hear what you think!