The little exercise, attempting to modulate the external expressions, voice, gestures to be less exuberant and enthusiastic, or perhaps dramatic or whatever is the format of observed expression, was not at all easy.
This nothing hermit considers it rather a miss, but there was much learned and benefited in the attempt. There is sincere desire to modulate and bend, and to not trigger those others' feelings with what is perceived as annoying and irritating, or not trendy or with it, or not normal in the usual mode of most people.
It is difficult to describe. Still, the nothing Catholic hermit in the presence of one who has not wanted a relationship for a long time, spoke too much when questioned, and gave in too easily when the questions it asked of the other were answered quite briefly. So the weakness of content expressed remains a struggle--something to be overcome. That is a good thing to work on, especially for a hermit.
John Climacus writes of talkativeness and stillness, and stillness is a very favorable gift. Part of the appeal of his writing is the brevity and yet the simple charm of the wisdoms shared.
A friend today, when discussing the book we are reading, thousands of miles apart, commented that the words and conversation of this nothing Catholic hermit are of much benefit to her, as the examples given and the expression of some detail, helps with her applying the good to her own life.
It is a matter of discernment, of course, and of observation and sensitivity to the needs of others. Yes, be mindful of the needs of others.
In the practice session a couple of days ago, the young person tried to qualify his criticism of the hermit "going on" about matters if he was ill or hurt. He commented that this new way of being seemed sad, and that nothing hermit could be just a little excited, but not too enthusiastic. It is rather sweet in a way, to note the struggle in a youngster to try to make someone be just right, like Goldilocks wanting the perfect porridge.
Another person later said, after the hermit caught itself making a probable, annoying, facial expression: "Just be yourself." But nothing Catholic hermit explained that it is worth trying to at least practice modulating what some have expressed as irritating, even if now perhaps they might prefer the other as opposed to the efforts. Trying to modulate might be as irritating as the irritating aspects of the usual, habitual way of being, itself.
This is yet a very worthwhile exercise. The nothing Catholic hermit highly recommends it to anyone who may have forgotten that we carry with us clutter of habit and can be annoying and irritating to others, even if some do not find us so.
And, perhaps the exercise allows those who are annoyed and irritated, to have some control or feel empowered, or might also see an attempt in us to humble ourselves, to admit we have flaws and annoying traits, and love enough those others we annoy, in order to try detaching ourselves from what it is that triggers awkwardness or irritation.
Perhaps it is attempting to do something else that John Climacus mentions, of grinding off some of our rough edges. As a friend who called said, it is attempting to be as Jesus asks of us, to die to ourselves and walk the narrow path. It is difficult to walk a narrow path when we have a load-full of quirks and idiosyncratic behaviors, expressions, and emotional baggage.
There is, at least, a peace in the attempt, and a goodness is realizing that pleasing God can also mean seeing God in others to the point that we are willing to alter our human foibles to please His Real Presence in others. Detachment comes in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and personal likes and dislikes.
Nothing Catholic hermit could not contain itself in an email, however, complimenting a person in writing. Lifting up others when it is valid and honest, is just something that is difficult to cease.
Still think that if those closest to me who cannot quite cope, would read David Knowle's book on mysticism, they would rest easier and entertain a greater capacity to at least have compassion for the external foibles. But until then, if then, this nothing Catholic hermit will practice all that the holy ones share in their extant writings, as well as to embrace criticism from loved ones. If even one flaw of many is altered to some good degree, then there is progress and success.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another--and love enough to learn to bend and also to discard the detritus of our external, extraneous foibles.