As is quite atypical for me, I’ve sat staring at the computer monitor this morning, waiting for the bluebird of inspiration to arrive. (That’s actually an “Allen” joke … my mom, as she got older, would often stop mid-sentence, sigh, and say, “I forgot what I was saying. It’s like the bird flew out of the room and I have to wait for it to fly back in.”)
And then, what began to emerge was some thinking about how we see ourselves and how we see the world.
So, that’s where we’re going this week.
There seems to be a very human tendency to divide and subdivide. In some of my writings, I’ve made mention of this in terms of the west’s penchant to break things apart in order to understand them (the basis of the scientific method) and the east’s tendency to look at unified wholes (systems thinking).
Wholeness comes when we combine what seems to be distinct. Of course, it’s human arrogance to think that things are separate, anyway. For example, if there was no darkness, we would not be able to understand light. This is the point made by the yin/yang symbol.
Everything contains its opposite.
Where all of this comes home to roost for me, given who I am and how I live my life, is in the creation of “us vs. them” games. Needless to say, as a therapist, this is the basis for most of the issues that people bring in. This is also the game that empires and dominions play, worldwide.
The Prime Minister of Canada is (still?) in China, on a diplomatic mission. I happened to catch the “preview” for the evening news yesterday, and there was a dance going on between some Canadian reporters who are covering the visit, and some Chinese police (or soldiers), who were annoyed with something the Canadians were doing.
At one level, one could argue that this is simply a cultural or political thing, and then get into debating the relative merits of democracy vs. communism.
I think this misses the point.
We don’t exist in a vacuum. Nothing can ever change the fact that the reporters and the soldiers are human beings first, and therefore not so different. The dance on the street mirrors the dance going on inside … between the representatives of Canada and China. If all that happens is that the focus remains on the differences between the systems of governance, nothing will be accomplished. If the focus becomes what we have in common as citizens of a fractured world… a world in need of unity… then there is the possibility of change.
In our personal lives, this is equally true. It appears that there is no choice as to how we are with each other… people are people. And yet this is very far from being so. If I turn my focus to conflict… to the things that separate and differentiate us, I will always feel isolated and scared. If I focus on the things that we hold in common, the drama seems to drop away.
I see it like this… I am on a walk and the purpose of the walk is to understand myself while appreciating the journey. Each step of the way, I have the opportunity to simply walk and be open, or to judge.
The judgement can be about anything … the weather, the terrain, my travelling companions. If I choose to focus in on my judgments, I find (although I probably won’t notice) that I am in my head and missing the walk.
And yet, the walk is
all that there is.
The conflicts and divisions I dream up in my head are convenient when I am running an experiment and I want to isolate something. In science labs, we do this all the time. When I apply is to my life, I simply isolate myself. Surely you have noticed this.
The isolation plays out in a frigidity of sensation, a rigidity in thought and a slowness of step. Suddenly, there is no “walk.” There is just the internal drama … the stories, the games I play with myself. I am no longer present in the walking … I am lost in the garden (or jungle) of my head where nothing is real.
And a strange thing happens.
I am drawn… pulled… to make the
drama real and the walk the illusion!
It would be worth your while to notice your drama-making, and to resist going there.
I propose a radical acceptance of the walk, and a radical resistance of the drama.
As you notice a pull toward blaming, distance making, anger, conflict, have a breath and take a step back. Wonder why you are making this choice. Examine the self-righteousness that comes with isolating yourself. Give yourself a shake, and come back to the walk.
You might just find that nothing much is really going on, the terrain is interesting and the people surrounding you are once again pretty much like you. You may notice commonalities as opposed to differences.
And then, if you are really, really lucky, you may just notice the essential oneness of it all. And you can settle in and enjoy the walk.
The walk is the walk is the walk. You have no choice about that. How you are and who you are, and how you focus on the walk … that’s your choice.
If you are going to walk (and you are!) choose well.