Home, not alone: seeing our blind spots

Back to learning at home, Ruairi O'Duil is allowing things to go with the flow – and seeing the benefits.

Blind spots.

If you look at the tip of your index finger, you can see it. But bring it up to touch the tip of your nose and it disappears.

You actually can’t see what’s right in front of your own nose.

Oftentimes, we are unable to see the blatantly obvious thing right in front of us. 

Ever since I set out to become a reflexologist, well over 15 years ago now, and probably before, I’ve tried to explore the balance between ‘Push’ and ‘Allow’, between trying to make something happen and allowing it come to be.

There are a galaxy full of aphorisms and platitudes proclaiming that we should ‘live in the moment’ or ‘seize the day’, counterbalanced by as many exhorting you to ‘go with the flow’, or that ‘the universe will provide’, or that ‘what you resist, persists’.

I studied the Japanese martial art, Aikido, for many years. One of its central ideas is that if you meet your opponent’s force or energy with force then there is conflict, a clash.

An adept Aikido practitioner will blend with an attacker’s movements and direct, as gently as possible, their opponent’s energy for the purpose of controlling their actions with minimal effort. 

An Aikido master sits in the space between push, making an outcome happen, and allow, allowing the opponents energy to flow through. 

If she uses all push, it becomes simply a contest of strength. If she uses all allow, she gets clobbered. The softer she is in that space, the less she is affected, the better she maintains her own harmony. 

As a natural therapist, I have to try to work in the space between, too. Reflexology, more than many other therapies, works best when we don’t try to impose an outcome, to try to ‘fix’ the patient. 

Which isn’t to say that we’re not trying to achieve an outcome. Certainly the patient is expecting that their tinnitus, or morning sickness or back pain or irritable bowel or whatever will be relieved.

My experience has shown that outcomes are much better if I trust that reflexology will do it’s thing and the patient will balance themselves as they need to rather than me imposing my will on them. 

There is a spot of stillness, a point of perspective where we are actively still, where we are between working hard to make something happen and passively trusting that it will appear. This is flow. This is inspiration. This is ease. 

A wonderful knowledge.  

But completely blind spotted when it comes to my own kids.  

No clue. Couldn’t even think to see it. 


This week I learned that I’m not half as smart as I would like to think I am.

Different this time

Heading into the first week of the second lockdown-learning grind, we resolved to make it different from the last time.  

The only thing The Dancer was ‘forced’ to do was to be online for the 9.30 Google Meet. And even that wasn’t forced, as such. Presented as the only actual requirement, it was no big deal for him to agree to.

The rest was all allow. He could choose to engage in as much or as little of the set work as he wanted to do.  

His wonderful teachers were fully onboard. Let’s just keep him well. Anything else is a bonus.  They’ve learned, and adapted and modified their methods and deliveries. Our expectations of them, and them of us, and each of ourselves, has softened. 

Surrounded and smothered by an ever increasing patriarchal control and instruction, ‘wear a mask’, ‘keep your distance’, ‘stay at home’, ‘it’s for your own good’, ‘do what you’re told’, it feels good, liberating even, to the child (the literal one at his desk and the figurative one inside him and in each one of us) to take back some responsibility for our lives, choices, actions. Even if that action is simply to allow it to flow. 

And, naturally, he engaged in everything. All the set work and our chosen projects together. He even wanted to rush back from delivering some of the goodies from our baking project to his teacher to finish his maths assignment.  

Well, everything except for the Gratitude Journal. We’re still ‘holding the space’ for that. Feelings and stuff. 

I let go of the feeling of being pressured to do it the right way, to push to make it happen, and let in the freedom to make my choice to let it happen the way that works for us. And we have found harmony of a sort. Well, less conflict and histrionics at least. 

Now to try to fine tune the balancing act.  

At least now my perspective is changed and this one is out of my blind spot and I can try to actually remember to take my own advice. 

I wonder what else I’m missing.

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About Ruairi O'Duil

Ruairi O’Duil is a Melbourne reflexologist and father who has been offering his insights into family life during the pandemic.

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