We all know parsley.
It’s the green stuff thrown around carelessly without love or imagination in an attempt to make dishes look fancy. As a result parsley has gained a reputation in Turkey for being a nuisance a meddler, something that gets in the way of the good stuff. I’m sure you could enjoy your kebab, lahmacun or meat without having to face the sprig of parsley that’ll end up in the bin.
But does the poor parsley ever get asked if it wants to get mixed up in every dish?
And some people in Turkey are labelled “parsley”. They are described as such because you can find them weighing in on stuff that should be of no concern to them. They are as much a nuisance as the parsley you must push to the side to enjoy a meat dish.
And I have a confession.
It turns out I’m recovering from being parsley-like.
How I Discovered I’m Parsley
The revelation came from an unlikely source.
I didn’t have the best relationship with Mum up until a few months ago when she came over to Australia from Istanbul to help me with my second baby.
What ended up happening was I found myself taking care of four children. My two-year old, the baby, Mum and…myself.
You see, Mum is one of those people who goes with the flow of her own emotions without planning. One day she’d want to sell her home for example, and the next she’ll discover a new love for it and would get all enthusiastic about working on its garden. She lives in the moment with only her emotions guiding her. Feelings aren’t always an accurate compass. I found that Mum experienced negativity out of misunderstandings, as we all do.
Inevitably, I remind Mum of my dad. Whereas I like to think I can enjoy the present moment without worrying too much of the future, this is not always the case. I plan hard to get control of my present. One of my biggest fears is getting swept up in other people’s plans. I sometimes obsess about the future (and what a dark place it’s likely to be!).
Because I get obsessive about getting things done, to tick off items in my to-do list, I often expect others to operate in the same way. They don’t. Mum certainly doesn’t.
She’s happy to just be.
She can sit in the garden for hours or at home minding the children, whereas I feel the pull of my to-do list to get going and finish some tasks. She’s completely free of that obsession.
This is not to say she’s a spiritual guru or someone who’s mastered being in the moment without getting stuck in thought patterns which break off her connection with others. She broke off connection with me numerous times and all because of this one thing…
When I see her phone needs to be repaired and I add it to my to-do list to get it repaired, I get hit in the face with “parsley”. Why am I meddling in her business? If she’s happy to have a phone that doesn’t work, why has it become a priority for me?
In order to sort out my situation and avoid the fate of parsley, which in my humble opinion deserves to be the king of the table for its nutritious qualities, but again, this is not my business as I’m not a dietician, nutritionist or the like, I have to first identify my business.
For this year, while my baby is entering her first year, my primary duty is to take care of her so she has a good foundation to thrive. As I’m still breastfeeding, this means I have to take care of myself, eat well (including parsley!), exercise, meditate so I can foster patience. This returns to my children as breastmilk for my baby and love and attention for my two-and-a-half-year-old.
As I’d identified my core values, which are creativity, community and growth – all activities which don’t serve these values are off my priority list.
For my community, I am getting ready to volunteer in a hospital to help people in palliative care talk about their life experience and write it for their friends and family to keep once they pass on.
With the ongoing care for my children, my writing and volunteer work, this means I have no time to meddle in other people’s business. If I get caught up in parsley behaviour, I run the risk of never achieving my goal to become a professional writer.
But I am tempted…
Everything outside of the realm of my own household, looking after myself, partner, children, writing and community falls under “their business” category. If I have a vision for my own life and have a spiritual and creative practice in place to support me, then I must trust that others are grown-ups with their own free will doing what is in their power to achieve what they want out of their own lives.
But I get tempted… to help.
For example, I get pulled into action by well-meaning but unconscious people to offer them advice or handle administrative tasks that they should be handling and the urge to help threatens to override and hijack my priority list.
I am human after all. The urge to “help” is so great that I lose sight that where I can truly help anyone is by simply minding my own business.
Trust me, nothing good has ever come out of trying to help people close to you when it’s not your business.
Because you can never truly know what the other person wants. You are not them. You don’t have their resources, life experiences, traumas, thoughts or emotions.
You must respect that they’re a grown-up (they’ve come this far haven’t they?) with the capability of taking care of themselves. Everyone has that ability and if they don’t, trust that life is the best teacher, not you!
So What If Loved Ones Fail?
Sometimes, the biggest favour we can offer others is simply letting them fail. It’s like the story of the boy with the butterfly struggling to emerge out of its cocoon. By breaking the cocoon too early, he prevented the wings from gaining proper strength and the poor butterfly couldn’t fly. We are meant to struggle. That’s how we develop the resources to tackle life’s challenges.
I see it all the time.
People, my loved ones, wanting to launch a product and it falls flat or they can’t find the romantic mate they’re seeking or they find someone and they can’t be happy for whatever reason or their job makes them unhappy.
The temptation to meddle is there. It’s like a terrible itch that will get worse when I scratch.
I must resist the urge to interfere because if I give advice and no one follows it then I feel disrespected. How to avoid that? Listen. Simply listen to them.
“Would you like advice?”
It could be that they don’t. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want YOUR advice.
Simply talking through their problems and getting out their thoughts might be all they need. They can figure this stuff out on their own. If they do want advice though, make sure you’re qualified to give it. If someone asks me advice on fixing their laptop or computer because I have a laptop, I will tell them to Google the solution or go to a tech guy. Just because I have a laptop and can use it, doesn’t mean I won’t mess up their computer.
However, if a loved one asks me advice on how to write an essay, then, of course, I will help them come up with ideas on composing it.
That’s what I do.
I’m a writer.
I’m also an expert in where I like my parsley and that’s in Nur Mountain Salad. It’s one of the few Turkish dishes I’ve mastered. Now that I have pomegranate molasses (thank you, Menekse, you’re too kind) I will make many good ones for my friends and family to enjoy parsley where it belongs.
Over to you…
When was the last time you gave advice or got involved in a situation that was none of your business? What was the outcome? Did it get you closer or further away from the life you imagine for yourself?