- Just “be as is.”
- Be aware in the moment.
- Be the empty vessel, especially with “others”
- Do the thing for the thing itSelf
- Know you can’t step into the river in the same place twice
Mom always said you can be anything you want to be. This isn’t true. And in fact creates a lot of pain and suffering in your life. You take a germ of an idea. You grow it. You make it your own. You think, this is what I was born to do. And in engaging with it you find that there’s still something missing. You move on to the next germ of an idea.
Mom probably wanted me to be a surgeon. She told me I could be Prime Minister. Those were her dreams not mine. But being told I could be anything I wanted created a huge number of wild goose chases. Sometimes I’d succeed. In fact, I’m usually good at everything I do. But I’ve never been excellent at one thing. Somewhere deep inside me I always envied those kids who stuck to one path and succeeded. I had to be and know everything.
Mom was wrong. In fact you can only be who you really are — who you are at the point before and after time. Seeing life this way recontexts the journey. The “search” is different. It, in and of itself, becomes the one path.
Nothing is real. Not intention. Not identity. Not belief. Not behaviour. It is all made up. It’s the world of labels; of the need for the creation of meaning and definitions.
We can move through life, like rain falling. Like water thawing. We sit, we only sit.
Breathe like a river in a desert full of rain.
December 29, 2013
It is amazing how quickly we can take ourselves away, sometimes consciously but mostly unconsciously, from who we are and who we believe we can be. A job, working for someone else or for another organization, can have the power to do this. In my case it was a four year position with an organization involved in economic and labour market forecasting in a specific economic sector in Canada.
Since 2002, I have tried to engage my life in a way that recognizes the complete and total responsibility I possess for all my choices, actions and consequences. It means looking at the world from a different perspective. It means recognizing that I am the only one in control of my life and that my life, ME, is inter-related and connected to a much larger ME that is the universe. Comments from others become feedback I offer mySelf. Disagreements, arguments and conflict become opportunities to explore the unknown, the other, and offer a chance to grow and learn. The love I give and receive is a reflection of the power of me. It is a fundamental knowing that I am everything and everything is me.
Once you know this about yourself you can never not know it. Yet, however strong I hold these perceptual beliefs you can lose them. They can deteriorate. Just like muscles developed through weightlifting, when the workouts stop muscle strength disappears. During the four years I was working on forecasting future labour markets I chose to let the job slowly mask over the larger identity I had become because I forgot to work the muscle.
The external rewards of the job were rather good. A chance to travel, often in Business Class; a title; external recognition from peers; the chance to play the “expert” and the opportunity to work at a level I thought appropriate to my skills and abilities. I let these “external” factors accentuate and grow the dualistic conditioned self I thought I had left behind.
It’s not that who I had become since my authentic journey started in 2002 had completely disappeared. That identity did allow me to “control” and “manage” my situation with others who were stuck on the surface and unwilling to dive deeply into themselves. It allowed me to move through the role somewhat effortlessly. Those years were fun and useful and perhaps necessary in my development of who I am now.
And sometimes I think maybe I needed to do that for a while to realize where home truly is.
In Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha the main character, a Brahmin, starts as a student of the enlightenment, renouncing the trappings of civil life for the life of education in realization. After a meeting with the Buddha, who’s Way he rejects, Sid wanders and eventually settles in a town of earthly pleasures where he becomes a rich and powerful merchant. For many years, he enjoys this role, until one day, he realizes it is the sham, an empty game. He leaves the town and returns to the river where his deeper, more authentic Self emerges in the many voices emanating from the waters. He lives out the rest of his life as an enlightened ferryman.
I’m feeling a little bit like Sid after playtime in the game of earthly delights. It is only now I have realized what was covered, what was subsumed. In gifting myself some space, openness and freedom during the last few months, a familiar feel of body as energy has re-emerged to conscious play.
(originally written August 19, 2013)
I once read that motivation is a key underlying belief in realizing your potential. Perhaps because of a proclivity to procrastination; the value of “getting motivated” is significant to me. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us he offers an algebraic basis of motivation called the “asymptote.” It is a curved line that approaches a straight one, but never quite reaches it. Both straight and curved lines travel into infinity never meeting. For me, the relationship between the two lines is asymptotic. If the straight line is your goal, purpose, mission you can, on your curved line, approach it and get really close to it, but you can never reach it. It is impossible to fully realize.
Pink notes professional athletes are asymptotes — always striving to have a better game than the last. There’s a certain frustration to this kind of existence too. As Pink notes: “Why reach for something you can never fully attain? But it’s also a source of allure. The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.”
Each of us possesses, deep inside us a spark of original authenticity that contexts our life. It can often be called life’s purpose, our intention, the mission of our life. As children we knew this intention, although we didn’t have the skills or ability to recognize or verbalize it. We lived it. We were it. Then, as we grew older, the “conditions” of our culture and society, like the sands of a desert, blew over us, covered us, buried that intention deep and out of sight, until it no longer was seen. But like some ancient mythical city, we still held the legend inside of us. We yearned to wipe the sands of time away and behold the treasure.
For many of us it is in our 40s and 50s that the desire and need to uncover the intention grows and foments in us. Since 2002, in and out of programs, I have been attempting to “discover my intention.” And for me that intention is expressed in the term: “elusively seeking.” It was a realization I would always be seeking and journeying towards the intention the universe held for me but would never really be able to find or grasp it, as it was so elusive. Ironic, eh? The only conclusion and course of action I draw from this, however, is brilliantly simple, that: undertaking the journey is my highest purpose.
Well, I never thought I would find a mathematical formula for an intention statement!
What I find interesting is that the straight line never meets the curve. They travel to infinity. That’s a concept I’ve been playing a lot with over the last decade. It means there is no END. And I’ve noticed recently that my motivation to act on something always gets sucked out of the air by thinking about the “end” or the “meaning” or the “reward”. It’s the frustration Pink talks about. If it’s all about the end and the end is way too far in the future, then that really requires way too much action. And that in a nutshell bogs me down.
So the solution and what I have re-discovered is instead of worrying about deadlines, end products, outcomes, results … if I stay in the moment, not consciously considering or choosing a future, a goal, an intention or purpose, I get into action, stay motivated, and things just get done.
And I intend to do just that, play in the present for a while. And I can’t say I’m feeling an angst, fear, need or desire about next steps. They’ll happen as they happen. There is a “settling into,” a deeper deepness, I can feel physically manifest in my body. And that is new … and an old feeling, remembered from an earlier time.
(originally drafted August 20, 2013)