Monday, May 20, 2013
“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
We interpret the world through the filter of our own experiences, prejudices, emotions and even our current mood. Given the latter factor our opinion or interpretation, is subject to change at any given time. What was tolerable one day may be the proverbial last straw on another day. Hopefully as we gather experience collecting tidbits of wisdom and useful knowledge along the way, our lens becomes wider and our opinions of the world become more welcoming and forgiving, less inclined to judgement or criticism. This is one of the benefits of getting older. While young people tend to think of themselves as open minded and 'liberal' they also tend to assume that older individuals are stuck in their ways, more inclined to judgement and inflexibility. If only they knew that for the most part the opposite is true. Yes, we are more secure in our convictions on matters that matter and our boundaries are clear were they need to be. We have constructed those beliefs and boundaries after years of trial and error and probably several mistakes along the way so if there appear to be areas of inflexibility they exist for a reason. Naturally there are exceptions to any rule of thumb but from what I can see the people who are rigid and harshly opinionated in their older years were much the same in their youth. It was that stubborn my 'way or the highway' reluctance to empathize that blocked the flow of incoming experience and wisdom that should be the highlight and grace of older age. Once a jerk always a jerk barring some life changing event that shatters the ego long enough to let in the light.
SO when I see people of any age rushing to judgement, hastily dismissive of ideas that don't fit in their world view, I wonder what insecurity it is that maintains that rigid point of view. I realize that this sounds a bit condescending so let me go on record as admitting that I have been extremely judgmental, reactionary and critical at times in my life when I was insecure and unhappy. It was only after learning to accept myself along with my flaws and imperfections that I was able to do the same for others. In fact I tended to be much more forgiving of others than of myself, so you can only imagine if I was looking down my nose at someone else the kind of criticism I put on myself.
It was in one of the lowest points in my life as I was taking stock of Things That Made Me Miserable I realized that my crappy attitude toward others was high on the list. This bitchiness, this tendency to gossip and bad mouth other people just didn't ever feel right. It wasn't a characteristic that I felt was inherently a part of Me, but was rather a bad habit that had emerged as a result of own my unhappiness. It was an attempt to cope with my disappointment with myself which quickly added to said disappointment rather than making me feel somehow 'better off' than those I criticized.
If I picked on someone who was in my opinion worse off than me, it was because I hoped it would distract from my shortcomings. This is a common phenomenon among alcoholics/addicts; there's always someone who drinks more or earlier in the day or diverts more money from their household budget or whatever scale you're using to measure and rationalize your own use.
If I tore apart someone who was doing better than me it was because I was envious but didn't dare admit it. It's preferable to paint success undesirable than as unattainable. 'Unattainable' admitted defeat and fear, fear that I would never be as well off, as educated, as pretty, as smart or as happy as that person seemed to be. Of course my appraisals of these peoples situations were likely to be inaccurate having been drawn on a small number of superficial observable factors. What did I really know about their lives, especially when I was pretty confused about my own life or my potential or even my own character?
Nowadays I still have flaws of course, we all do, but I am far more likely to admit it and to accept them as part of the ongoing process of living and learning. I am not defined by my mistakes and imperfections but rather by the way I choose to respond to them and the same goes for others. I am secure enough in my values and beliefs that I do not feel threatened by others that might differ from mine. Many things can be true at once and my truth is no less valid than someone else's even if they differ. It is when we can accept our imperfections forgive our mistakes and go with the flow that we are able do the same for others. Our point of You is our point of view.
© 2010-2013 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I am not a goal setter, or a go getter. I rarely make plans and when I do I allow enough flexibility to wiggle my out if needed. Until recently I didn't have much concept of a future of any sort, not one that I could envision with any clarity or certainty anyway. When I make changes in my life it's not because I decide to do so. Changes happen in my life because of external circumstances or simply because it feels like the time is right to make a change. I operate on intuition and heart rather than intellectual organization that's just my M.O. or to use the parlance of our times my O.S.
When I decided to quit smoking last month it was because I simply decided, no I felt, it was time to quit. Combined with the external circumstance that I was broke and I couldn't really afford to smoke that week, and if I was going to go a whole week without smoking then I figured I might as well keep running with it. That just made sense. If I had intellectually decided that I should quit smoking for health reasons for example, and set a date to do so, it never would have worked. I know that many of the popular methods for quitting work that way and for many people that works. Those are the kind of people who can plan things, organize tasks into achievable objectives that lead to long term goals. That is a good system for some people, but not for everyone. For me that kind of thinking would be a set up for failure, but that's okay! Really it is. And I'm not alone, there are many people like me who need to do things in our own way and at our own pace. We still get things done. We may not get them done in a predesignated time frame leaving behind a congruent linear paper trail that justifies and records our every step in the process, but that's okay too.
People like me just need to find non traditional ways to make a living and otherwise get by in a culture that increasingly values mechanistic linear thought and design. And we very often don't appear to be doing much since we don't produce documentation or concrete evidence of our progress. But guess what? that is okay too.
Anyway recently I have been feeling little big changes happening in my approach to life. Stopping smoking is probably the most observable and measurable achievement but the others are no less important. You may have noticed, or maybe not, that I haven't been blogging as much. That's because part of this process I'm going through is placing me in a frame of mind that is more reflective than productive. I am in a mood of keen observation which needs me to be more quiet. I'm listening to the world more than I am talking about it. I don't have much to say but I have so much to see, think and to feel. And I am finding myself more active not so much in a way that anyone would notice, but I am more actively engaged and present in what I choose to do. Quality over quantity is the name of the game right now.
I'm paying closer attention to my relationships with people (and dogs) in my life. I'm more attentive to the world around me especially my immediate environment. I'm enriching my mind and my imagination by reading voraciously and by watching documentaries about places and people that are unfamiliar to me. I can't explain how or why but I believe that all this is very important to my role in my family, my community and maybe in the Big Picture as well.
So if you wonder what I've been doing, I'm paying attention. I'm making Little Big changes. And I hope I'm developing a better more meaningful Me.
© 2010-2013 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard