I’ve had reason recently to visit this idea again. A most powerful idea, beautifully brought to us by Rumi.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I will meet you there.

Image via meggielynne.tumblr.com
Image via meggielynne.tumblr.com

More than six years ago I wrote about the idea in detail. I’d read a New York Times Modern Love column which was later turned into a book. Both saw the author Laura Munson go through hell with her husband, where she fought the urge to be right and he to be wrong (if played to this dichotomy he was so very in the wrong) and instead went out to the field. And sat. And waited. 

He came.

She describes the process like this:

“Here’s a visual: Child throws a temper tantrum. Tries to hit his mother. But the mother doesn’t hit back, lecture or punish. Instead, she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening. She doesn’t “reward” the tantrum. She simply doesn’t take the tantrum personally because, after all, it’s not about her.”

So tough.

My meditation teacher Tim recently shared similar advice. “Do you want to be right or to love?”

Love, we want love. We want to sit in the field. It seems very nice and, well, noble.

But the waiting…the holding of our energy against the slings and arrows of outrageously bad behaviour…the being the bigger person even when up against the toughest of conditions…? 

That’s tough.

Because what if the heroic, noble trip to the field is being done for a destructive person? A person who you’re not certain is right (or wrong) for you? 

Well, I guess they won’t meet you there. In the meantime, you can sit in some love. Right?

Have you done the trip to the field?

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Sarah Cleghorn

    Thanks Sarah, a beautiful reminder of a powerful concept.

    Yep, the job of relating to someone from our wholeness instead of from our wounds is oh-so-challenging!

    The one practical thing that has helped me hang out in the field is to ask myself “what do I want from them and how can I give it to myself instead?” If they’re not prioritising me, I’m probably not prioritising me.

    It can be an annoying question but it’s certainly helped with me up my ‘field-time’!

    • I like that – relating from our wholeness not our wounds.

    • princessfreesia

      Perfectly stated!

  • Suellen

    I love this idea. It’s so easy in a relationship to fall into the trapped of feeling aggrieved by the “wrongdoing” of your partner. Learning to sit in the field is important but it’s tough and takes a lot of reminding. That’s for the reminder

  • Suellen

    I mean Thanks for the reminder

    • my pleasure. seems like a few people are feeling it right now.

  • Jane Hayes

    I have most certainly done a trip to the field as a result of the article you wrote over six years ago in the Sunday magazine. It was one of those fork in the road moments. Will always be grateful to you and the Rumi quote for sending me there. I know I have destructive behaviour. I think most of us do in some way. I don’t think mine is as in your face as many but I certainly can have it. The consequence is two auto immune diseases so I see the behaviour as self destructive. Another great quote is “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” They say love is always the answer. They just forgot to say self love. Thanks Sarah Wilson. Hope it works out for you. I know it will. ✌?️Love to you!

  • Ana

    This is so bloody simple and brilliant.

    All around me I see/hear couples fighting, everyone seems to reach that inevitable point in their relationship where they are either at each others throats constantly or have given up and live in mutual misery (or break up). This distresses me as although I don’t have this problem – yet – it seems to be the fate of most long term relationships.

    Just last week I was contemplating this topic, as a young(ish) newly married woman I find it troubling that so many women older than I am complain incessantly about their partners. I don’t often hear the men’s side of the story but I imagine their not too happy either. I wondered how this can be prevented, how to “bubble wrap” your relationship and avoid it from becoming like so many others. I wondered what would happen if women gave men the time and space to deal with their crises. This is a generalisation but it seems that many men are inept at expressing their feelings or even identifying what they are feeling – which makes it impossible to identify and resolve an issue between a couple. Women on the other hand seem to be able to identify their emotions so easily and are quick to point out the flaws in their mate. And then because our men wont talk to us about it, we talk to anyone who’ll listen as “therapy” but we can never resolve a problem only by talking, especially if the conversation doesn’t include the other part of the problem. Your mother/ sister/best friend can’t solve your marital woes for you.
    So I digress, maybe if we refrain from the blame game, the right/wrong dichotomy we could work things out a bit better? Something to ponder and hopefully information to retain for use in the years to come!

  • eilish bouchier

    Such a brilliantly timely post with the Full Moon in Pisces and eclipse tomorrow which are and will stir very deep emotional wounds. I had a friend spray venom at me this week and stood in the space of OMG shock that they think this is ok to do to anyone. The subsequent apology even came with these are my honest feelings as though it was a truth. People confuse feelings with truth, with being right and this is where the issue really lies.They also confuse self expression with abuse. Rumi was so so right. I use that quote often. Of course if you are in relationship with a serial venom spitter then you need to spend a lot of time in Rumi’s field. I held the space of knowing it wasn’t personal while the words were a very personal attack but would I want to subject myself to this as a way of life. NO. I also love Rumi’s ‘I am seeking the one who is seeking me.’ I have recently found my one and I couldn’t agree more with Ana we need to stop the complaining conversation about partners. It is helping no one. Look for what’s good is one of my mantras. Then it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong . . .

    • Ohhhh, ‘I am seeking the one who is seeking me.’ – perfect

    • Carmel Milne

      Oh wow this is what I am trying to deal with in my head as I flick thru my emails. I had just read one about forgiving everyone with the full moon eclipse (yes I should be working!) and I thought, “how can I visualise this person who spits vile venom at me (family member not hubby) in a pink bubble surrounded by love???” I battle with the do I need to it if I just go out to the field and ignore her? Fight every urge not to reply to her angry texts with the ‘truth’…Oh this full moon is wreaking havoc with me haha

  • BeautyCharmAdventure

    I love this idea and am aspiring to it, undoubtedly failing!

    However isn’t this post itself saying “I’m right!”?

    • that hurts my head…i think it’s putting forward a fresher way to do things…I’m yet to know if it’s right/works.

  • Elise Matheson

    I just have to note that I went to a talk by a toddler psychologist on toddler tantrums and ignoring a tantrum is not the appropriate way of handling things. Tantrums & emotions signal an unmet need and should be met with love & compassion while holding your boundary: “I can see you are frustrated & upset, I am here for you, but I won’t let you hit me”. The same should go for adults: meeting with love & compassion while holding your boundary for how you should be treated.

    • I hear you. You’re right…but I think we mean the same thing – not buying into the tantrum (only the need)

      • cammie

        I think there is an important distinction that Elise is raising “holding space and being present to the tantrum ” is not the same as “she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening”. one is being present and witnessing and the other is ignoring.

  • Sara Nevius

    I’ve loved and felt connected to so many of your posts. This is by far my favorite. It is SO tough to do in the moment. Such a test of love. I’m trying to hone this right now.

  • Nereda Merrin

    I think everyone takes a trip to the field during a marriage – repeatedly.

  • princessfreesia

    Love this! Feeling it big time.

  • KT

    I would go further to say the child needs love in that situation – a cry for help imo

  • Oh yes. And the field is sometimes full of pretty wildflowers. At other times, we squish around in muddy boots, dodging cow pats.