I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I have done absolutely everything I know to do to move my life forward. I have prepared as much as possible. I have looked logically at my situation and done that which is rational. And I am still stuck.
I also found myself praising one of my flakier New-Age-y friends because of her intuition. Why? Because she is everything I am not: intuitive, free-spirited, highly spiritual, etc. She has a tender heart and a very sweet spirit.
I realized that I have come to the end of my logical rope. And so I am looking for alternatives. Even though I would likely not follow all of her advice, she still possesses what I call the “admiration factor”, that intangible quality where you look at someone and say to yourself, “I want what they have. What do I need to do to get it?”
I have forsaken my feelings so I can follow logic and reason. Part of that comes from my church years. If you go to many churches long enough, you will never trust your feelings and probably never figure out what they are in the first place. Welcome to my world.
But last year, my life stopped. I realized that I was stuck taking care of a house and a husband indefinitely and not knowing the basics of home-ownership or caretaking. Everything came to a screeching halt and I was left feeling overwhelmed and befuddled. What the _____ just happened? It all happened so gradually that I didn’t see it coming. I was in need of some serious help.
And I found out the hard way who was there for me when the chips were down versus those who just said they would be but had no real assistance to give.
My life was too much and I had no spare energy to devote to social pleasantries. The pretense was over. I found myself saying, “I am so done with _____” all the time.
That granted me a level of freedom I had never had.
Now I can explore my feelings freely. I have done all that I know to do logically and now it is time for me to explore all those socially unacceptable feelings. Now that I no longer attend a feeling-negating church and can learn to trust my feelings (because they are a million times more reliable than any of the crap theology I was indoctrinated in), my life can expand and become infinitely more interesting. It’ll be interesting to see where this leads.
I have been carefully using my resources (and shoveling), looking for inspiration. So I’ve also been reading a lot. My reading seems to always find a theme, probably the one I most need subconsciously.
Lately the theme has been about breaking free from old systems. I believe freedom and responsibility go together. Responsibility without freedom is slavery; freedom without responsibility is license. My emphasis for the past few years has been taking responsibility for my life. Now, it seems, it is freedom’s turn to take over for a while.
I thought I would miss church. Not a bit. The promises were never fulfilled, but the responsibilities were all too real and demanding. I thought I might miss school. Not so much. I love learning. I will never stop. But I do not miss spending hundreds of dollars per term on books or doing the gazillions of group projects.
I am now listening very intently to my life for clues to what to do. That requires a certain level of boredom, I have discovered. As long as I constantly distract myself with TV or internet or whatever, my feelings never clarify. I have to get to the point of feeling, “I can’t take this anymore. I really need ________.” When I can fill in the blank, I can progress forward rather quickly. Very interesting.
I have been trying to make my life more manageable for years–ever since Barry got cancer while I was working and going to school. Part of that has been not acquiring as many things because I eventually want to move South.
At the same time, I have been looking for spiritual sanity–not emotional or hierarchical manipulation. Zen has fit the bill.
My urges for simplicity have led to a fascination with Zen rock gardens, Amish decor, and just organization in general.
So I recently bought some books on minimalism. Some of the ideas really appeal to me: paring down to only the essentials, making intentional choices, and only doing and having things that truly add value to my life. But something didn’t sit right, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I didn’t want to become one of those people that has 100 items and that is all. What I want is space, margin, breathing room, or whatever you want to call it. I have to take care of Barry and all of our responsibilities. What I want is the ability to do something stressful and then be able to decompress afterwards, and not to have to jump into the next stressful thing without so much as a breather.
I also want the ability to travel after Barry is gone. That sounds simple, but it isn’t if I have a boat load of things at home that need attending to. This is where having less stuff comes into play. It’s not that I don’t want to own anything; it’s that I don’t want anything to own me.
What I like about Zen Habits and its author, Leo Babauta, is the emphasis that you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to. Take it one habit at a time. It’s about tailoring your life to what’s really important to you. What a concept.
“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick. Every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.” ~Milarepa
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve accepted responsibility for what I think. That means I have the freedom to think what I want. Responsibility without freedom is slavery; freedom without responsibility is license.
That is part of why I resonate more with Buddhism now than Christianity: I believe in freedom of thought and also responsibility for thought, all at once. I don’t blindly follow what anyone says, especially “authority” figures with self-serving agendas. I am so done dealing with such nonsense.
At the same time, my tolerance for violence, hatred, and cursing hold no interest for me anymore. I would rather read something that might help me become better at something.
If I have a thought I know is unhealthy, I turn to the “thrower” and say, “Bite me.” Usually, it has the voice of an “authority” figure from my past. I no longer give such people rent-free space in my head.
Be careful what you put in your mind because it will eventually manifest in your behavior.
I’ve been intently interested in the concept of “freedom” lately, especially since I am leaving my church in a couple weeks. Researching the concept from a Buddhist perspective always comes back to the idea of “freedom from oneself.” Given the political upheaval of the shutdown, I have been greatly gratified by the resolution, both the substance of the solution and the timeliness of it. That has made equanimity and emotional simplicity elusive.
I need to practice more zazen. I don’t want to live as a slave of my emotions, even good ones, anymore. I don’t want to become like my mother, a common sentiment, I suppose. My mother is very conservative politically and in climate change denial. Feeling like I am gloating puts me on a level playing field with her. Ugh. It’s a side of me that I am not proud of.
I want freedom from greed, anger, and delusion, the three poisons. Any other “freedom” is more illusory than real.
This quote is close to the idea. It is from Leap of Perception by Penney Peirce, page 170: “When your attention fills your present moment, it may seem that time stops. ‘Speed’ becomes a magical kind of no-speed in which everything is instantaneous, coordinated, and synchronous. Zen warriors knew that success was based on fluidity in action and spontaneous responsiveness–but that this was not a function of speed. Their success was possible through immediacy of action and freedom of mind, where attention didn’t stop and linger on any one thing, because that would cause a gap in the Flow, which would lead to defeat.”
This is what I am looking for: freedom, spontaneity, inner knowing of what to do, simplicity, and full-on engagement (no boredom).
On page 203, I find an intriguing quote: “[Y]ou might make a game of becoming a clear space in the world.” I love this idea. Releasing inner clutter and becoming deeply available for others is highly appealing.
Hello, Everyone or No One,
I am betwixt and between. I have a new MBA in Strategic Management and all of the issues of a new college grad in her 20s. I am also married to a GM/UAW retiree on disability, with all the issues that go along with being retired and on Social Security.I come from a working class and now have a professional degree. I live in Michigan, but am planning to move to Virginia. I have been Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, but now do not know what I believe. I feel semi-Buddhist.
Every aspect of my life requires in-depth explanation, but every explanation is a story and I no longer want to invest myself into yet another self-image. They all feel completely made-up. Perhaps this journal is my venting of the various personality themes I have embraced and rejected.
What I desire is simplicity, perhaps in the Zen fashion. However, I see and feel the inter-connectedness of all things, which makes everything seem complicated. I distrust simplistic solution to complex problems. Many aspects of reality or experience must be ignored in order to believe in pat solutions to today’s problems.
What I believe is that everyone has the right to do what they want to do, which includes imposing consequences on each other’s behavior. We all have the right to respond to others’ behavior as we see fit. Freedom and responsibility necessarily go together. Freedom without responsibility is license; responsibility without freedom is slavery. When one is reduced, the other is in peril.
And, yes, I am as nerdy as the picture makes me look. I need to find other pics of myself from others to upload, as the only digital camera I possess is on my laptop. I just thought anyone looking at my blog should see who the author is. 🙂