An aspiring writer fascinated by what we simply are.
People should think about the consequences of the little choices they make each day. What do you buy? Where did it come from? Where was it made? Did it harm the environment? Did it lead to cruelty to animals? Was it cheap because of child slave labor?”
“The truth is that there are two ways in which the future can become obsolete. One is through the inability to imagine the New: in this model, the idea of building a Tower never occurs to us; we are content to stay on the ground. The other happens when the New becomes so perpetual and unrelenting, when the construction of the Tower becomes so consuming, that we no longer have the luxury or the inclination to look up… You cannot have a future without a sense of the past, and there is no quicker way to make both obsolete than by insisting on the urgency and the singularity of the present.”
I’m feeling exhausted today but the worst of the week is over, I hope, and I am looking forward to more writing hours. Starting today I’m taking harsher measures to avoid distraction. No phone and no internet for 1 hour today. It’ll just be me and the blank screen and if I can’t be trusted even then, it’ll be me and the blank page instead.
Nothing is going the way I scheduled it to. I hoped for an easy midday and a peaceful lunch but the things other people want are getting in the way. So instead I have 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there in between people walking in to ask me questions, wanting me to do something, making loud comments, or simply wanting to visit.
But all those five minutes here and five minutes there might add up if I could keep in the back of my mind what I’m trying to do and where I am trying to go before they slip away.
Found this collage piece from one of my favorite artists, preschooldr0pout, just after writing my last journal post and thought I’d add it here as a reminder. I don’t believe in astrology but I am an Aries and this piece definitely resonated with me and what I’ve been going through.
I’m also suddenly inspired to take up creating cut-and-paste word art collages again as a means of mediation and self-expression.
Lately, I have been feeling like nothing is within my control. Not the way I spend my time, not my moods, not when I can eat, where I can go, not even my finances. I feel like I’m being blown here and there by everyone around me from happiness to anger to loneliness to frustration to excitement to hopelessness and back to happiness again without warning and without a way out or up for air.
I guess that is why the choices I have been making—when I can make choices—seem to always be wrong or detrimental in some way. I don’t choose to eat when I should. I don’t choose to sleep when I should. I don’t choose to write or read when I can. I don’t choose to express my feeling in constructive ways and I don’t choose to be brave when I have the chance.
Perhaps doing what I’m not supposed to do or what others expect me not to do feels like the only thing I can control but I know the things I am doing aren’t really what I want.
I want to learn how to let go of what I can’t choose and to focus more on choosing the right things. I don’t want this illusion of control that’s really nothing more than weakness and spite. I want to choose to be focused, hardworking, and strong in every instance where the choice is up to me.
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.”
Robert Thurman and Sharon Salzberg are icons of American Buddhism, and they are joyful, longtime friends. They challenge us to reframe our anger by seeing love for our enemies as an act of self-compassion.
Robert Thurman: There’s a word in Buddhism called “kleshas”—or “klesa” in Pali, “kleshas” in Sanskrit—which comes from a verb root that means “to twist, something to be twisted.” And it’s translated “defilement” or “affliction” by some people. I used to translate it “affliction.”
But the best word for it actually is “addiction.” So anger and obsession, lust, these things are said to be addictions. And that immediately gets the point across. In other words, it’s something that people think is helping them because it gives them a momentary relief from something else. But actually, it’s leading them into a worse and worse place where they’re getting more and more dependent and less and less free.
Krista Tippett: Dependent because the way you’re handling it is then all entangled with the other person?
Robert Thurman: Yes, right. And partly because you believe when anger comes to you, meaning in the form of an impulse that you have internally—“This is intolerable; that person did this; this is like something.” It’s the inner thought that comes, and it seems to come in a way that is undeniable. You have to act on it. So in other words, it takes you over. And that’s where mindfulness can interfere with that by being aware of how your mind works and realizing that it’s just one impulse and it’s one voice within you. And there’s another questioning voice and an awareness voice that can say, “Well, actually, would this be a good idea to blow your top now?”
I always like to say it’s like—otherwise you’re like a TV set that has one channel only and no clicker. If you have the horror show rising up from your solar plexus, then you’re going to have a horror show. Whereas, you can click to the nature show. You can watch the minnows frolicking in the lake in the summer. So I’m saying we are very clickable. We’re very switchable in our moods and minds.
And then the key is, the hopeful thing for some people who like their anger—and some people do like their anger. The hopeful thing is that that energy of heat, kind of like a heat—and actually in Buddhist psychology, anger is connected to intelligence, to analytic and critical intelligence. So that energy—a strong, powerful energy of heat, force—can be ridden in a different way and can be used to heal yourself. It can be used to develop inner strength and determination. And that is really something much to be ambitious for. That is a great, great goal.
More information and the full transcript can be found at OnBeing.org