REFLECTIONS

Lately I’ve been curious about the varied moods that I experience in a single day.  My days, like my moods, resemble a multi-faceted gemstone or a pristine riverbed.  Although a day is a finitely determined single unit of time, its unpredictability and randomness are like ripples in a stream with fine edges, each reflecting its unique version of the environment.  Each moment of the day is an opportunity to guide the reflections that seduce us by sparkling more brightly, circulating more frenetically, or emitting flashy colors.

Sometimes, the environment dictates where my focus and attention lay.  This is especially true while taking care of the business of the day.  Routines have a way of encouraging robotic responses.  It’s not the shiny and flashy that catches our attention; but the mundane and ordinary. We have been trained well to avoid distractions and keep our nose to the grindstone.  It’s hard to see choices in a sea of To Dos.  We blindly move from one task to another to reach an end that in all likelihood has been long forgotten.  But, there is glorious relief in the distractions of chores, job responsibilities, and the routines we once committed ourselves to for the sake of improving ourselves and our lives.  But, there is little opportunity to reflect, assess, or redirect.

In reviewing my past, it has occurred to me that I have never made a life-altering change (other than the early adult rites of passage) without a life-altering stimulus that forced me off the road and into unchartered lands.  These aberrant, panic inducing events force us to take our eyes off of the mundane and rethink the possible.  During these times, we often reflect – if only to insure that we are heading in the right direction.  And, since change is difficult at best for most people, we settle back into the mundane as soon as possible with a sigh of sweet relief.  WHEW!

I am now, once again, in a position of looking for the reflections mirroring my life.  And, because I’m sick, I feel limited in my options. Consequently, I have no glorious aspirations to give root to my lost self.  Oh! I have tried. I’ve dabbled in creative endeavors to help ease the pain of non-productivity. And, even as I write this, I realize that productivity is the antithesis of creativity and dream-chasing. Catch the corundum?

So as I have limited options, no routine, and lots of time; I’ve been able to see in a more global way. Because I have no preordained direction, I am aware of the variety of reflections my life offers for my review. This awareness has saved the life of my sanity. For example, when a moment of my day blinds me by the glaring reflection of old age, financial doom, or loss of dependence; I am able to search for a substitution among the myriad reflections. I am able to see that there are alternatives to the life I once lived. I’m able to see a new future if I will allow myself to be receptive to change. And, this awareness and ability to see beyond the expected and routine – to never dismiss an idea, has resulted in discovering new talents with the potential of being both satisfying and lucrative.

And with the ability to see more globally, I also have the opportunity to make choices about how I think and how I feel. This does not mean that a realistic reflection that poses a problem should be ignored because it generates bad feelings. It simply means that I have more options to explore with the possibility of producing an abundance of emotions that are beginning to create a texture and landscape to my life that has never before been possible. The more I see, the more I know, the more I feel.

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The Mortal versus the Human

It’s interesting to reflect on my response to the difficult challenges in my life.  And, it's sobering and humiliating to become aware of the flawed ideas from which my reactions have been molded. In spite of my humiliation, I will opine on these ideas with the belief that I am not the only person struggling with the conflicts and disconnects between being human and the desire to be super-human, maybe even unhuman. This may be another flawed assumption! If so, then here goes another lesson in humility.

I'm competitive. Often my ego-hungry nature drives me to rise above my challenges - to respond as though I had the mythical Greek God, Hermes, as my personal guide. A note of explanation here: Hermes is the God of transitions and boundaries. He is an intercessor between the mortal and the divine.  My ego demands nothing less than to divest myself of temporal mediocrity and triumph sublimely.

This attempt to rise above my humanness, dispel my weaknesses, conquer my fears, avoid my limitations and protect myself from the harsh judgment of others, results in catastrophic self-blame when I fail. My ego cannot overcome this crushing blow. After all, if I were stronger, wiser, more deserving; I would have succeeded. And so, the same ego that drove me to believe in my superhuman abilities and my divine intercessor lays in a heap of unrealistic expectations, self-pity and loathing. Despair is a poor companion. Yet, it feels somehow just - an appropriate consequence for my failures and defects.

Sooner or later, self-preservation and common sense guide me out of the dark and into a world of realism and practicality. At this point, I begin to understand that I am impotent over the unexpected/unpredictable events in my life. I settle into forgiving myself for my lack. I relinquish the role of heroine and miracle-worker to a power much greater than myself. I find myself relaxing in the absence of the stressors of super-humanness. I find myself praying for patience, conclusion and strength - human strength.

And here's the kicker! My relaxed mind becomes bored and my bruised ego heals and gains strength. Certainly my situation is not without purpose. Now, I begin an exhausting search for meaning and purpose. My suffering has to result in a greater good. I am looking for meaning. I just can't wrap my head around the randomness of nature.
So, I settle in for another challenge.  Initially, I default to my old ways of finding value and meaning in the things that evoke status and cache. I fall victim to ascribing to an image that will win me favor in the eyes of others.

The KISS philosophy comes to mind - Keep It Simple Stupid. My challenge does not need the intervention of a mediator between the divine and the mortal. Meaning and purpose is not something you do or become. The ego complicates and blurs the soul to acquire things for its own sake. I need my ego to survive and even thrive. But, I can't give it everything it wants. I think this would be called narcissism. And, when I am unable to feed the ego with its desires, the result will always be depressing.

So, I'm settling for finding meaning in the meaningless, worthiness in the simple, joy in the ordinary, purpose in the serendipitous and value in the people and things that I love. I unburden myself of carrying and portraying false images. And, I'm accepting the present and keeping the past behind me. These simple things, though difficult, are humanly possible. I'll let you know how I'm doing. Thanks for reading.