Friday, March 6, 2015

To Do and to Be

“We all know sometimes life's hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet your lifetimes that and twice it's double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed

“So make sure when you say you're in it, but not of it
You're not helpin' to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love
And maybe our children's grandchildren
And their great grandchildren will tell

“(I'll be loving you until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky)
Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky”

Stevie Wonder – As

Sometimes life changes in a moment.  The changes can be huge or small or somewhere in between, but the changes are real and often permanent.  In a moment I decided to return to school and get another master’s degree.  In a moment my phone rang and my boss told me that my work assignment had changed and my workload doubled.  Suddenly life was different.  It got busier, more responsible.  I have more people to answer to now….a lot more people.  I have no regrets and I wouldn’t change any of it, but it’s real and the stakes are higher.  A lot more people are depending upon me to do well.  I’m depending upon myself to do well.  I’m excited.  I’m scared.   And I’m still writing.
I’m not the most organized person in the world.  I also don’t always use my time well.  These traits will need to change.  How will I change?  How can I change?  Is it even possible?  How can I do this?  How can I do all of it?   I just will.  Or I won’t.  But the consequences of not doing are greater than the consequences of doing.  So I have to do.  I have to do what is expected of me.  I have to do what others need me to do.  But I also have to be. 
Erich Fromm writes about this in The Art of Being.  It’s not enough to just do.  If all I do is work and activities, even good ones, I am in danger of losing my being.  Doing and being are not the same.  They go together.  They are even one.  But they are not the same.  I need to do.  If I do, I will probably do well.  But if I can be, I can do more peacefully and joyfully.
What does it mean to be?  On a pragmatic level, it means taking Eckhart Tolle’s advice in The Power of Now and watching the thinker.  This might be related to metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.”  It means being aware of our thoughts so they don’t take over.  Are you scared?  Angry?  Stressed?  Resentful?  Feeling sorry for yourself?  Do you want to have these feelings?  (Sometimes we do because we don’t feel validated otherwise.)   Do these feelings help?  Can we choose something different?  And if so, how?  Change your mind.
“Change your mind.”  (“Change your words into truth and your truth into love…”)
My Muse says that to me often.  But how do I do it?  Do I just do it?  Is it that simple?  Yes and no.
Being begins with a decision that I no longer want to feel bad in any way.  Perhaps my feeling is justified and I’m afraid if I let it go then I’m being insincere.  Perhaps I’ll feel ignored or unheard by others and by myself.  My bad feeling becomes my anchor to my view of reality.    For example, if I have resentment towards someone for “making” me do something I don’t want to do (another blog topic all by itself), I hold on to it because otherwise I might have to admit the other person is right and I’m wrong.  If I’m wrong, then I’m…well…wrong….not right.  Invalid and invalidated.  Insignificant.  And eventually…erased and annihilated. 
But what if being wrong doesn’t mean any of that?  What if it simply meant being…well…wrong?  Not bad or meaningless, just possessing the wrong facts or ideas.   Or what if I weren’t wrong at all?  What if I just had a different perspective?  Would my fear of being overworked, would my resentment, my anger, my stress, not be wrong, but just different ways of looking at something? 
What if I changed those thoughts to something like this:
I’m doing this because I have a goal.
I’m doing this because this is what I really wanted.
I’m doing this for my Muse.
I’m doing this for the people I love.
I’m doing this because learning makes me happy.
I’m doing this because it will give me more to contribute to the world.

I’m doing this because I’m in it and I’m of it.  I’m not going to make the world a place called Hell by complaining and resisting.  People, some I haven’t even met yet, are counting on me.  God is counting on me.  My Muse is counting on me.  My children are counting on me.  I am counting on me.  I am counting on me to Get Started and Keep Going.  I am counting on me to do…and to be.