It was suggested to me that I make a list of words that were used to judge me as an earlier person – that is, while I was still a puppet moving as others directed me to.
Fickle came to mind (according to Google: changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties, interests, or affection), because I scattered my attention rather than sticking with one group of people or interests or beliefs. Being fickle, I was led to believe, was a bad character trait; something I should work to change.
But now, I can offer another definition (according to me): inquisitive, open minded, willing to learn, to explore. It’s worked well for me, and hasn’t harmed anyone that I can tell.
Sensitive, as in too sensitive, was another word I was judged by. It was something I was told I should work to change. Told by whom? Most likely, by people who were less sensitive than I am.
But isn’t the sensitivity that makes it painful for me to see people hurting each other – often on purpose, sometimes with others promoting it for ego- or monetary gain or watching for entertainment – isn’t that sensitivity an important part of contributing to a world where all can be safe and as happy as possible a good thing?
Is our world in the condition it’s in because we’ve taught ourselves to be less fickle? We choose a position and refuse to budge even when our position hurts thousands or hundreds of thousands of others?
Is our world in the condition it’s in because we’ve taught ourselves to be less sensitive? Less sensitive to the pain and fear, the hunger and ignorance of people we don’t know; less sensitive to the greed and bullying of people who only look to make life comfortable for themselves and their chosen groups?
On one weekend, unusually high winds in Norway generated 140% of the energy it needed, allowing the country to send the excess along to Germany, Norway, and Sweden.
Why haven’t we invested more in this renewable resource? Better than staying locked into fuel sources that are dangerous to mine and ravage the land.
In Sweden, thirty-two recycling plants produce heat for 810,000 households and electricity for 250,000 private houses.
We have trash; we recycle! We could do that!
Norway, Austria, and Spain have prisons that remove dangerous people from society but treat them humanely and focus on rehab.
It seems too many of our prisons are violent, teach no helpful life- or work skills, and release prisoners angrier than they were when they went in. They do learn skills; ones that help them become better criminals, not ones that help them get jobs.
Surely we could do better than we are.
I had a mini love fest with a Muslim woman today; in the crowded mall parking lot, I signaled to her that I was going to be moving my car, which she was about to pass. She backed up, I pulled out, and looking over my shoulder I saw her wave me thanks. Sweet smile on her face. I braked and blew her a kiss, she blew one back to me. I flashed her the peace sign, and she flashed it back at me. So easy to meet her as a sister. Felt good.
Planning for a meeting, thinking there was agreement among those on my team about what we’d do and then seeing what they actually did was a good reminder that, mostly, I have no idea what’s going on in other peoples’ heads.
As I look at my life from where I am now, I wonder what my young self would say if it knew the challenges it would encounter. Feelings of failure in school systems that didn’t teach to the learning skills I had; numerous jobs that weren’t a good match, but who knew at the time you were supposed to be happy at work? Two marriages that didn’t end with the same love they started with; cancer, a bunch of times; watching my country change from mostly kindhearted to mostly competitive.
Probably good that she didn’t know.
But then to be fair, I have to admit there have been some wonderful times, too. The abundance of books and CDs and workshops that let me choose my teachers, that let me choose my studies; the occasional jobs I had that did feed my soul; love with two good men while it was good; being free to live pretty much wherever I wanted to; finding people to surround myself with who are mostly kindhearted and letting the competitors figure their stuff out among themselves.
I guess life is somewhat like a roller coaster; there are ups and downs and turns you don’t know are coming. But in a roller coaster, you don’t even pretend you’re in control. You know the smartest thing you can do is to hold on, avoid slipping into panic, and go with the flow. (For my metaphysical friends, of course, you do that stuff, too.)
Roller coaster cars go where they’re supposed to go, they get to a happy ending somehow. In the meantime, the best we can do is hold on and enjoy the ride.
Ever notice how much of American money goes to fighting what we don’t want?
The War on Drugs – Thanks partly to our thinking that drug use is a crime, our incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Addicts who aren’t taught other ways to cope become repeat violators. Families are torn apart; welfare and poverty skyrockets. Prisons are now a big business. Except for the people who make money on the prison machine, it’s a lose/lose situation.
In Portugal, ten years after decriminalization of drugs, drug abuse is down by half. Addicts are treated by medical and psychiatric personnel instead of being locked up.
What if the US spent the time, energy, and resources on rehabbing addicts that it spends on finding and punishing them?
The War on Terror – The Bush administration launched a war that has created more problems than it could have ever solved: destabilization of entire countries has led to chaos and mass evacuations that have led to previously stable countries being overwhelmed with immigrants. Thousands of military personnel (ours and theirs) have been killed or maimed or left emotionally scarred, and we don’t have the money or manpower to adequately treat these soldiers’ mental and physical ailments. Military suppliers are now a big business. Except for the people who make money as military suppliers, it’s a lose/lose situation.
What if the US had responded after 9/11 with some form of Peanut Butter Ministry? Imagine if we had spent the same amount of time, money, and manpower on offering countries schools, books, hospitals, training on how to grow crops, purify water, and be economically stable?
The War on Cancer – Despite the time, money, and resources we’ve spent on fighting cancer, the rates haven’t changed significantly. Doctors and researchers looking for cures that don’t rely on cutting, burning, and poisoning patients are scoffed at, discredited, or shut down. Most cancer patients (I’ve been one for 18 years now) must pay out of their own pocket for alternative care like supplements, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine. Big pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of diagnostic tests and equipment have got money-making machine that will never stop.
What if the same amount of time, money, and effort were put into training doctors about the importance of good nutrition, into unbiased studies of the health benefits of acupuncture, yoga, guided meditation, and nature-based supplements that work but don’t offer big profits on?
Cuba seems to have developed a vaccine for lung cancer (it’s economics: with a vaccine the Cuban cigar industry can flourish without the country’s smokers developing lung cancer). The US doesn’t have a cancer vaccine, but big pharmaceutical companies have gotten rich.
Have we passed the crossroads where we had the option to choose between making decisions that benefited people and the planet or ones that made big companies and their leaders rich?
It seems to me that we have, but what if we changed our minds?
The message in a book I’m reading is that I can’t be who I want to be by being who I am. It’s not a new message; there are variations with the same theme.
I’ve been on a path to be the person I want to be for as long as I can remember. In the early days, I wanted to be the person my parents, friends, employers and significant others wanted me to be: obedient, loyal, hardworking, and uncomplaining.
At some point, I stopped wanting to be who those people wanted to be. Instead, I wanted to be the person hundreds of books, CDs and workshops said I wanted to be: patient, forgiving, accepting, and unattached to outcomes.
I learned that if I detached some, if I didn’t get quite so close, share quite so much of myself, care quite so deeply about what happened (or didn’t), I could slip through my life kindly and patiently, I could accept everything and everyone just as it was. Ohm.
Eventually, I realized I want to be the person I want to be: forgiving, kind, patient, and accepting, yes. But I want to be happy. Back to the books. Turns out, there are a lot of theories: Happiness comes from within; it comes from helping others; it comes from winning the lottery; it comes from spending quality time with family and friends.
At some point, I remembered one simple suggestion I read ages ago: Pay attention to what makes you happy and do more of it. Notice what makes you unhappy and stop doing that. The author didn’t say, but this is important: Hush that monkey mind that jumps in with, “Yah, but…” followed by a list of reasons you can’t.
I’ve decided to let go of that detached me, at least some and with certain people. I’ve told my monkey mind to go play someplace and stop bothering me. It’s a little ironic that I see myself becoming more like the five-year-old me – I was happy until I started paying attention to everyone’s voice but my own. I’m pretty sure who I want to be is a lot like who I was before I let everybody else tell me who I am.
Life is good when I let it be; when I remember to make more time for friends and play and doing things to take care of myself and less time for “getting everything done.”
We’ve read books, seen films, and watched Esther Hicks channel a group of non-physical entities called Abraham – all explaining what the Law of Attraction is, how it works, and how to use it to align with and call to us everything our hearts desire.
Yes, it’s new agey, but as with many beliefs that were once considered woo woo, it’s been proven in scientific laboratories to be true.
The short version is that thoughts are energy and energy creates matter, so our thinking actually attracts people and events that are in alignment with the thoughts we give the greatest amount of energy/attention to.
This isn’t a post to convince you if the notion doesn’t feel right to you, but rather to offer a thought to those who already understand this “law” and use it in your daily life.
Visualize the outcome you want, but take action, too. Our world is a crazy place right now, and it needs as many people visualizing sanity and safe outcomes it can get. Studies have shown that when groups visualize peace during certain blocks of time, crime drops measurably. When we visualize sending love and healing energy to others, they seem to feel it and respond.
But. What teachers of this philosophy don’t mention all that much is that it’s also important to take action to achieve the outcome you want. If an employee is embezzling, don’t just visualize him becoming a model employee without talking to him about what he did wrong. If you want a new job, excellent! Visualize exactly the job and coworkers you want… and also check the help wanted boards. Want a new lover/car/house/guru? Visualize… and then go looking.
Though the Law of Attraction has mostly been presented from the one side – visualize the experience you want – action is an energy, too. Some outcomes are easily accomplished by sending our attention to the situation we want to create; with others, we also need to get up off the couch.
Life offers lessons.
Ah, life, fewer lessons, please.
I want to live a fearless life, and it would be so much easier without things like cancer, and terrorists, and A Certain Political Party.
I know the world doesn’t work that way. And I’m sure Buddhists would say fearlessness is not a righteous goal. Better to face the fear, look it square in the eye, and say: You will not control me.
I do that for the big things. But always there’s the background noise of what if? What if the cancer moves to a place that would be immediately life threatening? What if I have an accident that leaves me altered in ways I could not tolerate? What if I run out of money?
The wise part of me knows that even if those things happened, I’d find a way to cope.
So why do I let fear keep me always just this side of peace? I ask as if it’s a choice.
Maybe trying to hush it isn’t the answer. What if I accepted it as a caring part of me and brought it into my heart to love? Maybe it could feel safe and rest some.
Am I open to life? If Bob Barker (for those of you old enough) asked me to choose door one, two, or three; exchange what’s there for the life I have now, I’d probably say, no thank you – I think I’ll just keep what I have. Scary, unpleasant stuff and all, at least I feel I can cope with it.
Does that mean I’m closed to life? I don’t think so. Married and divorced twice. I never thought that would happen.
Moving 15 times in 19 years – surely that shouts of openness. Online dating – at my age! How much more open could I be?
Well, a little. If I didn’t overthink pretty much everything, I think there’d be more room for more life.
Go on a think fast?