It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.
“Those with space in their mind are called wise, those with no space are called otherwise.” – Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati
Thinking about it: why we do it, what we say with everything we post.
I’ve found myself exposed to the random thoughts, musings and effluvia of people I barely know and am not all that interested in.
You know how it goes…you connect ‘cause why not? Then they become a part of your daily media dose for better or — more likely — for worse. And you are too lazy to do anything about it.
For some people, social media is an identity crutch. They are strangers to themselves, unable to be alone with themselves in peace. They post and post and post as if to say over and over: “This is who I am, acknowledge me, love me.”
I wonder what their lives would be like in the absence of social media. Would they be even lonelier? Would they feel less empowered, connected, accomplished if they didn’t project their every move and thought onto a semi-anonymous sea of others?
Why as a culture do we have this collective impulse to announce our meals, our workouts, to relentlessly document our children and pets? What lack are we trying to compensate for? Why can’t we live and let live … why can’t we let it be?
I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now. Over that time I’ve struggled with questions of vanity, self-expression and disclosure. What’s too much? Why am I doing this at all?
The appeal of blogging for me is now more pronounced (although I rarely blog anymore, given my free time-devoid existence). The people who read blogs came there specifically to read it. They showed up there on their own volition. Your thoughts, feelings, ideas, words, pictures, impulses were not foisted upon them as they are in social media. Sure, people can choose who to friend/follow on social but so rarely do they carefully curate what they actually see each day. Who has the time for that?
On my part, it’s time I start using my in-between moments more wisely and checking social media less. It’s delivering too much junk and noise into my already cluttered consciousness. I can use those spare moments to breathe, stretch, call a friend and chat if only for a few minutes.
people like to label each other but it’s not that simple. many people are multidimensional. not only do they have aspects to their personality, experience and capabilities you may not be aware of, but they may also have grown and changed since you originally labeled them.
for a long time a lot of people thought of me as a hip city chick, an independent single woman, an ambitious career gal. even though i am now domesticated, in a relationship and living in the suburbs, i am STILL independent, tough, ambitious. those aspects of my personality don’t come at the exclusion of love and family, which have always been my number one priority although it may not have appeared so to the outside world.
it has been very interesting to see how other people adjust their perceptions of me as my outside life has changed. yes, it’s been a huge year but also very much a progression and not a SHOCK to me or those who know me best. it’s more of a wonderful evolution … exactly where i am meant to be at this stage. i am grateful and blessed.
Excerpt from Rob Brezsny’s book PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA
In Tibetan Buddhism’s “Four Dignities of the Warrior’s Path,” courage and ferocity are absent. In fact, the qualities regarded as essential for being a warrior have nothing in common with the training regimens of Marines or football players or lobbyists.
The first dignity is often translated in English as meekness, but that word doesn’t convey its full meaning. “Relaxed confidence” is a more precise formulation — a humble feeling of being at home in one’s body.
Perkiness, or irrepressible joy, is the second dignity. To develop it, a warrior cultivates the habit of seeing the best in everything and works diligently to avoid the self-indulgence of cynicism.
The third is outrageousness. The warrior who embodies this dignity loves to experiment, is not addicted to strategies that have been successful in the past, and has a passionate objectivity that’s free of the irrelevant emotions of hope and fear.
The fourth dignity is inscrutability, or a skill at evading the pigeonholes and simplistic definitions that might limit the warrior’s inventiveness while fighting for his or her moral vision.
BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY WAS SO DANG GOOD! I need to re-read it. What reminded me of it? The term SMUG MARRIED that’s been dancing at the back of my newly-coupled brain. (And no I am not married yet … but that will change soon enough. Also, I’ll be skipping the new Helen Fielding book cause it doesn’t sound like any fun to me.) But back to my point: I’ll be damned if I ever become a SMUG MARRIED. I may become married and I may be smug — but not in relationship to each other. I will not forget what it was like to be single in NYC for over a decade, living and working, loving and growing. I will not think my life is more important/fulfilled/mature/serious/secure/valuable [insert your own smug adjective here] than anyone else’s now that I am domesticated.
Despite being a part of a partnership now, I still deeply identify with my prior life. And I will continue to do so, in the same way that I still identify with aspects of my childhood, teen, college, early adult selves. Before I met my match at age 37, I was independent, happy and successful for 16 years (if you start counting at 21 when I graduated from undergrad and got cut off from the parental gravy train). I did so much. Traveled, ran marathons, put myself through graduate school, supported myself in New York City for 13 years without outside assistance. Based on merit alone, got myself great jobs and advanced in them. Completed 5+ years of therapy and helped get my family through my Dad’s horrible battle with addiction and cancer. Took up Yoga, deepened my practice. Became a pet owner. Was a good friend, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, neighbor, coworker. Learned the patience required to root for every one else’s “life events” while my existence was often marginalized and/or misunderstood.
Some wondered what was “wrong” with me that I wasn’t dating much … was I “too picky?” “too career focused” “too independent?” One ‘friend’ even asked if I was gay but just couldn’t face it. (Some people are such assholes!). The answer was I had little interest in dating as sport, and I didn’t care if “most” people were married and popping out babies BY MY AGE. I am so proud of the life I’ve lived. There’s nothing about it that I wanted to “escape” from. I loved it while I was living it (and no, not without the occasional bout of depression, self-doubt/self-pity cause I’m a human Goddamned being!) … and I love it in retrospect too. The lessons I learned have prepared me for the next chapter. There is nothing I wanted to try but didn’t. There’s no question that I can take care of myself and others in very challenging circumstances and find the positives. I’m running towards a man and life I love — not away from anything that I fear (like being alone) or hate (like being deemed “unfinished” by a society that irrationally worships partnering despite the 50% divorce rate and twisted desire to see celebrity marriages implode).
For single friends out there #SOLIDARITY! Keep working on yourself and forget about trying to satisfy others’ bullshit expectations. Your current life is not a “condition to be fixed.” It’s your actual, real life! Being coupled doesn’t magically erase people’s shit and make them better people. People need to work that stuff out — themselves. And even after they’re coupled up they STILL have to work on it! We are all works in progress, from the moment we’re born until we die. There’s no avoiding it. But it IS easy enough to avoid smug marrieds and anyone who makes you feel bad about your life. They are usually the most miserable folks of all!
i love this bit of wisdom. have it written right there in a cheesy font on a plastic card that was gifted to me by a beloved mentor. and i need to meditate on it from time to time when i get focused on the things i LACK.
it’s human nature to believe that which is beyond our current reach is actually the panacea for what ails us. “if i just had a better job (/apartment/spouse/hairdo)…” “if i were married (/single/younger/thinner)…” “if we had another child (/a larger home/a bigger bonus/a better car)…” then i’d finally be complete. then i’d be at peace with myself and happy in the now.
anything we think will solve our problems brings with it a new set of issues. once we get what we want, we want more. that’s life … that’s the deal. the challenge is to learn how to be happy in the present moment. to appreciate it, embrace it, and not try at every second to escape and move beyond it. that doesn’t mean giving up all ambition and desire to change or improve one’s circumstances. it means enjoying the ride — and wherever you are at this particular moment in time.
it’s a lifelong challenge. the essence of self mastery.
Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man.Jimmy Lyons
I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies, for the hardest victory is victory over self.— Aristotle
“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” — Tao Te Ching
A man is what he thinks all day long.— Ralph Waldo Emerson
A man who governs his passions is a master of the world. We must either command them, or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.— St. Dominic
We are really stuck with ourselves, and our attempts to reject or to accept are equally fruitless, for they fail to reach that inaccessible center of our selfhood which is trying to do the accepting or rejecting. The part of our self that wants to change our self is the very one that needs to be changed; but it is as inaccessible as a needle to the prick of its own point. – Become What You Are by Alan Watts