“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ~ Brene Brown
When it comes to living your life, you are your own expert. This does not mean that I dismiss guidance from others, but I do so mindfully, and with a sort of ‘sound-check' from within--does this resonate, and ring true for me?
"A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace." ~ Confucius
What I think Confucius is saying to me here is that when I am wise, when I am free of judgement in other words, I see God, Love, Spirit in everything. It is perhaps somewhat like this little story:
THE DOG'S DIARY:
7 am- Oh boy! A walk! My favourite!
8 am- Oh boy! Dog food! My favourite!
9 am- Oh boy! The kids! My favourite!
Noon- Oh boy! The yard! My favourite!
2 pm- Oh boy! A car ride! My favourite!
3 pm- Oh boy! The kids! My favourite!
4 pm- Oh boy! Playing ball! My favourite!
6 pm- Oh boy! Welcome home Mum! My favourite!
7 pm- Oh boy! Welcome home Dad! My favourite!
8 pm- Oh boy! Dog food! My favourite!
9 pm- Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favourite!
“The essence of the borderline dilemma is a conflict between a desire for autonomy and a fear of parental abandonment.” ~ Masterson
Could this not be a depiction of the human dilemma, playing from our very own Garden of Eden? The search for knowledge and self-actualization, juxtaposed by desiring to be a part of a much grander Meaning? Could not life be navigating a resolution by finding a balance of the two?
"I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something." ~ Dostoyevsky
If Dostoyevsky is saying that he could not ‘become anything’ because whatever he ‘became’ would inherently be meaningless, then I wholeheartedly agree. But if that is in fact what he is saying then why the ‘entirely useless consolation’, did he not really believe that? I can become virtually anything I choose to become (you should see me doing pirouettes with the Bolshoi) and I am also keenly aware that whatever I choose to become ultimately has no meaning. In other words: only a fool can become something and believe it has any meaning at all. My worth is established by God, it is unchangeable. Now go have some fun.
"My experience is what I agree to attend to." ~ William James
I like the wording here, as it reveals experience as an interaction between the internal and external, with the ultimate decision coming from me.
"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them." ~ George Bernard Shaw
It may be a matter of beginning to recognize and accept that whatever I have in my life is my choice, or, at the very least, to accept that my experience of whatever happens is my choice. From that place of absolute accountability I have the freedom to become a creator.
"Every person must choose how much truth he can stand." ~ Yalom
And that choice is made on a moment to moment basis. The more Truth I allow to be my reality the smaller the platform from which the ego thinks it runs my life. A small platform can bring an ever increasing fear of falling off. The more willing I am to question what I believe to be true the weaker the ego becomes. The ego is nothing other than a set of beliefs.
"Anybody can learn to think, or believe, or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel... the moment you feel, you're nobody ― but-yourself ― in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ― means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." ~ e.e.cummings
Once in awhile I come across a quote from a beloved poet such as e.e.cummings and I find that I do not agree with a word he says. Why do I choose to talk about a quote in that case? In order to clarify in my own mind what I do agree with. I absolutely had to teach myself what I was feeling, I had no idea. My range was ‘rage’ or ‘numb’. I had to teach myself to feel because I was very clear that the ‘self’ I thought I was chose all my feelings and the only way I could hope to transform that ‘self’ was to follow the feeling back to the ‘feeler’. Cummings tells us in the above that you actually are the one who feels. If that was or is true, I am screwed. I am not the one who feels. I am the One who Knows.
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” ~ Frank Zappa
What a great metaphor for life. It is great to take personal responsibility--to be the author of one’s own experience--but it also behooves me to keep myself open to outside influence, so that I can I further develop my understanding of myself. All too often, I can become attached to ‘my meaning’, which only creates further division and potential for conflict.
"First the fish needs to say: Somethin' ain't right about this camel ride...and I'm feeling so damned thirsty.” ~ Hafez
Love how Hafez addresses my sense of dis-ease. About twenty years ago, I realized that there was something drastically wrong how I was choosing to live my life. Over and over, I made a sadly misdirected attempt to quench my ever present thirst for Truth with booze. There had to be a better way. There is. Choose Again.
Diederik Wolsak is program director at Choose Again