When push comes to shove, they say…but why all this pushing and shoving?

When someone pushes you and you push back, then you’re fighting. Buddhism would suggest that we step back and let the blow go by us but most humans aren’t built that way. We didn’t stake our place on the planet by stepping back but by fighting of saber tooth tigers, bears, lions to say nothing of hitting other apes with a femur bone. We respect others who are willing to fight for what they believe in. Oddly, with all of our respect for fighting, it’s surprisingly ineffective.

I’ve had cause to think about this a great deal lately. People use the phrase, “when push comes to shove,” but what they really mean is that when someone pushes you, your response should be to shove. Why are we doing all this pushing and shoving in the first place? It’s unhealthy.

Red Hen Press, the non profit I founded twenty years ago with my husband exists because we’ve sacrificed enormously and because we continue to work around the clock to sustain it. But we are lucky enough to have staff, volunteers, an executive board, a board of advisors and a council made up of significant supporters of the press who are helping us to create a vision for the next twenty years for the press. We’ve spent a great deal of time talking with other presses and getting a sense of what we could do differently, and learning about best practices has improved our methods.

All of this work requires complicated relationships with other human beings. Right now, I’m sitting at LAX getting ready for fly to Frankfurt for a week of meetings. All of these meetings are about relationships. Some are easier than others because you are working with people who think as you do, see the world as you do, even have your dreams, are interested in your life and respect what you do. Sometimes none of that is true. But still, you need to make it all work.

The wise people in my life always remind me that when things get wonky in a business relationship, it is nothing to get worked up about. It’s all ephemeral. Mark and I will still be working in the field of literature five years from now and ten years from now. I hope we will have some of the same staff and some of the same core authors, but we will certainly have a number of new authors by then, and mostly a new board, and at that time, we will have a different set of issues to deal with. Very little that’s on your plate now will still be there tomorrow, let alone next week.

This morning I got the packing done and got ready for this trip. I had three slices of turkey bacon. Then Mark dropped me at Tom Bradley and I went into the basement which is where you go through security. Sometimes before boarding planes I buy fries and Bloody Marys if I am with Mark and I feel celebratory. Even alone sometimes to cheer up, but not today. I’m listening to Lisa Gerrard and Lisa Germano. Calm yourself, I’m saying to myself. Let’s keep it all quiet on the Western front.

Published in: on October 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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