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
- To a large extent, the way we think determines who we are and what happens to us.
- Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.
- Go with the flow.
Luke: “Is the dark side stronger?”
Yoda: “No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”
Luke: “But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”
Yoda: “You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”
notwithstanding a recent episode that put me out of commission for 1.5 days (oh the joys of womanhood), i am feeling good of late. spring has arrived, sort of. i am getting back into a physical routine which is so important for my mental state. i started by going back to my trainer once a week. then i began adding in more yoga. and now i’m back out on the road, running. slowly, for certain. regardless, it feels good.
for the most part, americans are raised to think of the brain, the mind as being of foremost value and the body as a coincidental framework we are obligated to experience the world within. we conceive of ourselves as a house divided — forced to choose between what’s natural and what’s pragmatic. we don’t sleep enough. we consumer food that is devoid of nutritional value. we spend way too much time indoors, hunched over computers. we let our racing-churning-never satisfied minds rule us. we are rarely satisfied or happy.
so says the central thesis of buddhism (i think?). i recently picked up a book i started years ago but couldn’t stick with then … am enjoying it the second time around. coming to our senses: healing ourselves and the world with mindfulness. it’s tying together a lot of other concepts i’ve been dwelling in the past few years. i read another book by the author, jon kabat-zinn, and really enjoyed it.
check out this lecture he gave at google to get a taste for what it’s all about. fascinating stuff … going beyond thinking.
When you grow up with a domineering, moody man dictating the tenor of your existence, you learn to put other people’s desires and impulses ahead of your own. You don’t act – you re-act. You don’t love – you try to be loveable. It took me many years of work – in therapy and on my own – to realize that I don’t have to internalize or react to other people’s moods. I am free to set my own course. If someone is showing erratic, inconsistent or moody behavior towards me, I don’t have to get caught up in it. I can let it roll past. When something (such as love, approval, affection, respect) is scarce or rare, it’s human nature to value it more highly. In a toxic environment or relationship, you’ll find yourself being pathetically grateful for rare scraps of good mood, kind behavior and proper professionalism that come your way. Once you step back at look at the situation, you can see that you deserve more — a lot more. No matter what, real approval/validation has to come from within, not from the outside. Once you get the hang of that, it becomes easier to go towards the things you really desire.
Here’s a good writeup on dealing with the moody type …
We are all familiar with the vicious cycle of worry. We know that worrying is futile, but we go on doing it because calling it futile does not stop it. We worry because we feel unsafe, and want to be safe. Yet it is perfectly useless to say that we should not want to be safe. Calling a desire a bad name does not get rid of it. What we have to discover is that there’s no safety, that seeking it is painful, and that when we imagine we have found it, we don’t like it. In other words, if we can really understand what we are looking for – that safety is isolation, and what we do to ourselves when we look for it – we shall see that we do not want it at all. No one has to tell you that you should hold your breath for ten minutes. You know you can’t do it, and the attempt is most uncomfortable.
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts.