where’s the compromise?

The art of compromise can be difficult, especially if we don’t realize that a compromise is needed. Sometimes, though, awareness  that an accommodation or middle ground is necessary can be a touchstone for a day’s meditation.  It can provide an external reference point.  How so? With the recognition that compromise would be a healthy move in a given situation, a framework of adjustment is established.  In other words, a knowledge that hmmm… my way of thinking about this issue may not be the only way to think about it… gives us an opportunity to treat other situations differently than we typically might.  Which, in turn, can be used throughout any given day to experience a different perspective.  

 

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Here’s an example:

My husband and I use natural flea and tick repellents on our dogs and in our home.  Fleas are not an easy thing to deter in South Florida.  Natural remedies involve a lot of vacuuming, washing towels and bedcovers, and using essential oils to deter the little critters. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.   Yet, the fleas still come.  My response? I get stuck in the “I must get rid of these fleas using only natural products because it is the healthiest thing to do for both human and animal” mindset.  This can go on for (ahem) months.  Stuck.  I get stuck.

One night around 2:00 a.m. when our labradoodle was itching loudly waking up both Scott and I, my husband asked me, “Kelly, where’s the compromise?”  There was no emotion in his voice.  Just a simple question.  

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It was an adjustment.  A re-boot.  An external reference point.  My mind immediately developed another frame of reference.  I’ve carried this new frame of reference with me over the past several weeks.  It has become a touchstone.  I began to look for, around, and under those compromises because I don’t want to be stuck.  Or, if I am going to be stuck, I want to recognize it.  Thus far, I’ve learned two things:

1) The greatest compromise may lie within ourselves.  And, 

2) If a lot of emotion is involved in a situation in which middle ground is trying to be reached, a personal agenda may be lurking in the background.  

The first lesson, accepting what is, is an internal job.  Isn’t a big part of compromising a willingness to allow something to be a way other then what it currently is or that we think it should be?  So, maybe inherent in taking the middle road is adjustment and acceptance.  The acceptance within ourselves that we haven’t failed or done something wrong if we think something should be a certain way. Yet, it just isn’t.  I haven’t failed if, try as I might, the natural flea remedies aren’t doing the job.  Adjustment.  Frame of reference.  I live in South Florida. The uber-flea capital of the world.  (Yeah, there is emotion in that exaggerated sentence.)  Silly as it may seem (it does to me, anyway) to use fleas as an example, I think this can be extrapolated to many areas in our lives. I know it can in my life.

The second thing I’ve learned is that I should first examine my reasons for considering (or not considering) a compromise in any situation in life. If strong emotions are involved or attached to the situation, I may be operating from a personal agenda. If I am operating from a personal agenda, emotion may be driving my response rather than reason or facts.  

In other words, maybe taking the middle road is comprised of both compromise and acceptance.  A compromise between parties or situations and an acceptance between parties and within the individual.  Compromise can bring us back to an external reference point, a touchstone, and an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.  

 

perspective

Perspectives can be skewed in life. They can be skewed by what another person has told us.  They can be skewed by our own frame of reference, worldview, and sets of beliefs with which we were raised.

One’s perspective and mental constructs seem to go hand in hand.  As humans, we form associations in memory and develop mental constructs around those associations. For example, many of us have probably developed over the years a mental construct of happiness. We believe, whether consciously or subconsciously,  we will only be happy in life if certain things happen. Therefore, we will most likely conduct our life accordingly to fit within those parameters, to the extent we can control it.  In other words, those mental constructs can control our actions and reactions.

What would it be like to live outside of those parameters we’ve set for ourselves?  Or, at least get a glimpse of what it could be like to live outside of one of the constructs each of us has created for ourselves.  Freeing?  Liberating?  I think so.

Most of us may also have some type of mental construct that defines for us what makes a good meal.  The meal below may seem a bit simple and peasant-ish or it could be viewed as a satisfying, hearty meal.

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Inspired by Sarah at In Praise of Leftovers, I put together this meal, tweaked things with what I happened to have on hand.  I thought the outcome was worthy of a spot on the dinner table.

The mashing of the beans combined with broth creates a sauce.  The spiced up sour cream provides a nice, cool counterpoint to the texture of the meal.  A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds a good dose of tart.

Below is a loose recipe.  Adjust the ingredients to your taste.  If you like more bean sauce and less rice, mash another can of beans.  Sounds very un -glamorous, I know.

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Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Rice

Serves 3 – 4

4 sweet potatoes, rinsed and sliced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. (uncooked) brown rice, prepare according to package directions, set aside
1/2 c. plus more to taste, chicken or vegetable broth
1 T. + a pinch, chili powder
1 T. + a pinch, paprika
1/4 c. sour cream 
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil 
lime, sliced, optional 

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Prepare the brown rice according to the package directions.  Set aside.

2.  While the brown rice is cooking, rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes.  Slice them into half – moons.  Pile them onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, about 2 – 3 T., over the potatoes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the mixture until potatoes are evenly coated.  Spread out on cookie sheet until evenly distributed.  Roast in oven 30 minutes or until fork tender.

3,  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat add the rinsed and drained black beans, 1/2 c. broth, 1 T. each chili powder and paprika.  Fresh ground black pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.  Crush the beans into a soft pulp with a fork or a potato masher.  Once heated through, turn bean mixture to low.  Add additional broth if desired.

4.  Combine the sour cream with a pinch of chili powder and paprika.

5.  Serve the bean mixture ladled over the rice.  Top with sweet potatoes and a dollop of the sour cream mixture.  Add a good squeeze of lime, if desired.