Spouting simple answers has always come natural to me. I am on a remedial path now.
Journalist and self-described, “Industrious Optimist,” Lara Setrakian used this cartoon illustration in her TedTalk about improving the “adult education” that comes from news reporting, away from fear and simplicity toward the wholeness (or integrity) of complex truths.
Following the road less traveled, entering the narrow gate, education of the heart, enlightenment, and truth all depend upon the gravitas of love not dogma; giving the benefit of the doubt and resisting fiery indictments, ethnocentrism, and condemnations long enough to grasp the deep kinship we share with fellow residents at this very temporary, planetary address.
We all must decide. Go with the herd on the easy path, eventually terminating at the cliff, or take the longer, lonelier path and brave the uphill climb?
If you want to find out where everything went wrong
If you want to figure out how all the chaos got started
If you want to discover when the loving stopped
Or the joy vanished
And the easy became hard
If you want to track down the villain in the story
And punish him
Then do it quickly
Track down the fear in your own heart and disown it now
Because it is faster than cancer
And more destructive than the impact and shrapnel from a thousand bombs
It has tutored your ego into malice
And baited your intellect into stupidity
It has sucked your blood until you were the real vampire, the real boogie, the scariest zombie
From the most gruesome nightmare ever dreamed
And it was you all along
You! who gave fear the key
I was critical of The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis who writes in a difficult-to-follow, stream-of-consciousness style until I realized the book had casually exposed my own pattern of random patchwork thoughts; pin-balling around from topic to topic, past to future, pointless to profound, and noble to profane.
Afterwards, I was easier on Kathryn Davis, but harder on myself; shocked by the sheer absurdity of my…
- Re-runs (experts say that a very large percentage of our thoughts are the same every freakin’ day!)
- Petty gripes
- Overestimating my own understanding
- Limited awareness of others
But, shock precedes improvement, so I am better for the experience.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to work I go…shocked into better thinking and a more productive future…thanks to a book that was difficult to read.
Nothing shakes me out of my self-centeredness, ethnocentrism, and poor-me problems more than reading biographies and fiction about the struggles of passionate men and women in other times and places. The first book that called me out on my bull#h*t was Les Miserables. When I read it many years ago, the plights of Jean Valjean, Fantine, and Cosette, representing the real problems of the time period, shook me hardily out of the illusion of my “difficult life.” Other books followed suit: Roots, Tale of Two Cities, A Good Earth, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Man’s Search for Meaning, The Hiding Place, etc. And, more currently, Jungle of Stone, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Endurance, Pillars of the Earth, Outlander, The Glass Castle, Same Kind of Different as Me, and countless others.
I hope you don’t have the same tendency that I have to become a small-minded cry-baby. But if you ever do, I hope you will let a book rescue you.
“The only ‘no’ in my vocabulary begins with k.” My friend, Joann, got this response when she asked for help. I loved it! The person she asked for help, went on to say, “Just let me know what you need.”
Okay, well, I admit it is not a good philosophy for those of us who have a problem setting boundaries, or for those of us who hang out with sociopaths, or, for those of us who are already in trouble with authorities for saying yes too much, but for those of us who tend to say “no” too quickly, or need to learn generosity, what a concept!
Men complain about their female exes, romantic interests, bosses, and co-workers being the b-word, manipulative, or impossible to please. Women complain about men being selfish, self-centered, and shallow.
If we want to stop repeating the madness and find movie-quality soulmates, partners, or heroes, here are the rules:
- Quit assessing people by their outward beauty or body type (when I meet a man whose primary measurement of a woman is how fit, pretty, or built she is, or a woman who obsesses about bald, overweight, or old, I know I am in the presence of the immature and lonely)
- Look at all people the same (don’t measure by what they are or do, $$, or possessions)
- Forgive everyone (bitter people are not attractive)
- Honor your suffering instead of complaining about it (the nicest people in the world are often those who have suffered most)
- Give generously (and forget about getting something back)
“I thought complaining made me appear sensitive, insightful, and intelligent.” I actually read this confession in a Carlos Castaneda book. But, unfortunately, he is not the only one who has held this erroneous belief. From reading Facebook and blog posts, it seems most people believe it, or else they don’t care if others know how petty and immature they are.
Sub-consciously, I must have believed complaining sounded smart too, because I certainly never missed an opportunity to populate the airspace with my static. It took massive energy to learn to check my negativity at the door and keep conversations productive, but what a difference it made…for those who had to listen to me.
“The Universe is asking…show me your new vibration, I will show you miracles.”
That might sound stupid or “New Age,” yet the times when I have recovered from despair, found hope when I thought there was none, somehow discovered a way out of a bind, or seen a miniscule ray of light in the deepest darkness, it has been because I did the changing. I quit waiting for something or someone else to change.
Although, it was as easy as…
- admitting I might be wrong
- changing an “I can’t” to an “I will”
- thanking instead of complaining
- questioning instead of denouncing
It was very difficult to accept that responsibility.
Most people never do.
There is an energy, a vibration, about us that repels help or attracts it. If you doubt that, think about the people you avoid, and why.
The other night I marveled at the almost-full moon. The next morning, it was full…and on the other side of the sky. I was asleep when it all happened. No one asked for my help or my expertise to keep the earth and moon in their orbits.
When I am trapped in my own dramas, it certainly helps to remember this…and that…
- I am a very small puzzle piece in a very big picture
- the only rational explanation for me being here is to learn awe, gratitude, and usefulness
- my stress, angst, jealousy, anger, or bitterness may be utterly ridiculous
- history, science, and astronomy are great perspective enhancers
“To be angry at people means that one considers their acts to be important. It is imperative to cease to feel that way. The acts of humans cannot be important enough to offset our unchangeable encounter with infinity.” – Carlos Castaneda
Okay, I know these are radical statements, especially for those who suffer unspeakable injustices. Yet, Castaneda’s point warrants consideration in this political climate of hatred and fear, and in our personal lives where certain people drive us mad.
Even if you don’t agree with Castaneda, no one in their right mind can deny…
- it is difficult to take ourselves so seriously when we consider how temporary it all is
- inevitable death puts everything in perspective
- arguing with what is is useless
Save your energy. Be a change agent not a victim.