Other People’s Limitations
“Internal conflict also inevitably follows from the thought that “I am the thinker” because when you define yourself, you limit yourself (SN 22:36).” From Insight Journal, September 29, 2012 full moon, The Arrows of Thinking
I have found this to be very true. It doesn’t matter what the label is: Christian, Buddhist, Michigander, married, white, female, etc. Taking on any label makes change harder than necessary. And, in this world, change is often not optional. The business and social worlds seem to be on an “adapt-or-die” trajectory.
I graduated high school in 1985. Madonna was a major musical figure. One of the things I found fascinating about her was her continuous reinvention of herself. She did not take on other people’s limits as her own. Coming from a small town, I sometimes envy that level of flexibility. Growing up, everyone thought they knew your business. I graduated high school with some of the same people I went to kindergarten with. Trying on different personae simply came off as phony. When I started going to LCC, it was wonderful to be surrounded by folks that had never heard of me. Anonymity can be a very good thing. I got to date outside of my inbred small town. Yea.
I am starting to see life as a series of transitions. Each transition is an opportunity to reevaluate what fits who I am now and to give away things that are still usable but are not part of my identity any longer.
Part of why I am leaning towards the Buddhist end of things is simply the doctrine of impermanence. The me of today bears little, if any, resemblance to the me of a decade ago. I see learning, growth, maturing, change, whatever you choose to call it, as normal, even desirable. It seems like most commitments are simply declarations of non-growth. “From this moment forward, I promise not to grow beyond the emotional, spiritual, or educational level of those in authority in this institution.” That’s how it feels to me. I saw myself regress as a Christian. I compromised my intellectual integrity to remain “true” to the faith. Taking on others’ limitations as my own so I can “belong” has produced sad and painful results.
What am I? Do I need to know? I am no longer even convinced that there is an essential “I” that remains unchanged over time. The idea of a soul or spirit is just that: an idea. How much of my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual independence am I willing to sacrifice for someone else’s idea? None.