When I am afraid of what I might lose
When I am trying to get something from you
I am not free to wield the power of integrity
The power of character
Or the power of courage
After speaking today, several people complimented “my energy” and “my unique power.”
I was keenly aware that their impression came solely from the battle I had waged against myself (for days) to be in that surrendered place of power and not in the place of fear and need.
The ultimate position of power is bringing all of who we are to the moment minus attachment to an outcome.
(By the way, that power position is reflected in the following quote (and was a turning point in Cranston’s career.)
Especially since laughter is, and always will be, the best medicine.
Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, asks himself, “Should I worry about this?” If the answer is, “I don’t know.” Then, he asks, “Will it make any difference if I worry?” If the answer is “Probably not,” he doesn’t worry.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ definition of faith:
“The ability to hear the music beneath the noise.”
I have been working on this for decades;
- the ability to silence worry and believe in the hidden redemption in all circumstances, and
- the ability to listen so carefully in the moment that all the clamoring of my ego is muted.
The better I get at this, the more steady and drama-free I become…and the more useful I am to this world.
Appearances are not everything. In fact keeping up a superficial front causes more mental illness and dysfunction in families than anything else…even drugs and alcohol. Ask any therapist. We are only as sick as our secrets.
Reading Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf reminded me of the complexities and contradictions we all carry around. The cool thing about Herman Hesse is how honest he was. That’s the kind of person with whom I love to hang out: someone who has quit lying to themselves about who they are and quit trying to “market” and compare their ideal self to others.
Only when we quit the hype and/or hiding will there be real energy to improve.
And, this is the truest freedom.
Nobody wants to live in the present when it is unpleasant. Here are some incentives:
1. We can become our own hero – the movies that inspire us are about people who endure suffering and rise above it, right? That’s you at this moment. You are the star. Shine!
2. We need the training – otherwise, we will be wimps.
3. This moment has hidden treasures – and we must be present to win, to find them, to see them. Trading the moment in for the next is always a bad move. Bird in hand better than two in bush. Really. Our time is limited…a millisecond in eternity.
4. Present people are sexy – and refreshing, and rare, and like meditation music.
Make Thoreau proud…and all of creation. Take the advice…find your eternity in each moment.
or, maybe a little better said…
Or, we can just complain about it and flaunt our mediocrity.
When we refuse to complain about the weather or something else we can’t change, we stop global boring with those who take what life gives and make it work!
I’ve seen enough of life (and HBO) to know that wealth, fame, unbelievable good looks, or an insane level of talent cannot free a person from anxiety. Sometimes the possession of those things just amplifies it!
Obviously, all of the “If-I-just-had-__________, -I’d-be-happy” talk is bull.
So, do we have to be dead to be at peace?
It is always such a struggle when life is asking for things we don’t want to yield.
So, when I quit worrying about losing my time, plans, money, freedom, health, youth, relationships, or possessions and just share them freely and easily, as if I were dead, I can experience amazing peace and freedom from anxiety without having to “off” myself.
Hasn’t life been asking me to do that all along?
That’s fearlessness. That’s courage.
This Will Durant quote feels like the theme of my life.
I often wonder…
- How much smarter I would have been had I owned my ignorance instead of trying to appear smarter than I was?
- How many more extraordinary relationships I would have had if I had been quick to learn from others instead of quick to dismiss them?
- How much more quickly I would have found solutions to my problems had I recognized my tendency to overestimate my expertise?
- How much kinder would I have been in my thoughts and words toward people with whom I didn’t agree or like?
There are good people in my life who will gently tell me I’m whining, and then ask me to woman-up. I am indebted to them for this. I often do not recognize my poor-little-ole-me behaviors on my own.
Replacing my deeply-ingrained whiner/complainer behaviors with solution-oriented/action behaviors has been a decade-long, serious undertaking for me. In earlier decades, family, teachers, friends, bosses, and co-workers tried and failed to get my attention. They were pushing a boulder uphill (that frequently rolled back over them).
Books and authors (including C.S. Lewis, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Frankl, Lincoln, Hugo, and countless others) relentlessly urged me out of pettiness and into noble living.
Nothing was wasted.
Finally, I anticipate my fears and my whimpering, have a battle plan, and surround myself with victors.
Courage, dear heart!
Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices, petty sacrifices such as…taking time to consider that:
a stranger’s discomfort is as important as our own discomfort
a co-worker’s success is as valuable as our own success
a family member’s inconvenience is as irritating as our own inconvenience
or, very specifically, what it really means to love our neighbor as ourselves
When coming face to face with my selfishness or petty thoughts of self-importance, I often feel disheartened that I have learned so little about being a good person. But, the other day, when my ego surfaced, I thought: “Well, at least I noticed!”
(Before, I wasn’t even aware that the thoughts were the essence of bad manners. So, that’s a little progress, right?)