Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting. ― Haruki Murakami
I'm studying Murakami with my Literature class and I asked them, 'Who among you is conventional and who feels that they are empty? So we all started talking and we spoke of making meaning, thinking, thinking too much, just getting on with it, freedom, conformity, how we reproduce and die, and Meg said how we are animals yet we search for meaning and Anthea said it'd be great to live naturally and I said, 'Like a hunter and gatherer, who eats when she's hungry and tells stories around a fire' and Aaron said 'Like a hippy' and I said that's what I'd like to be. After the class, one girl hung back and said to me, 'If you were a hippy you would get bored with that and you'd be wanting to be a teacher or something.'
She spoke wisely. But right now I'm bored with the repetition of working five days a week. I want more freedom. What is the solution? A day off? Long service leave? Less work and more frugality? A promotion? A reality check? What will I do?
'But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.' ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
you cannot converse - you’re too strange, and of no consequence.
I see myself grotesque like a broken gargoyle at a garden party.
I grip the horror,
But it delights me right to my soles!
I wrote this to capture the feeling of fear that I discovered when I investigated why a mild rejection was making me uneasy. I was delighted to find that when I found it and held on to it, I felt energised.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. ― Jim Morrison
I got an idea for a book, got all enthusiastic and told everyone that I was going to write it. I went to the top, asked for funds, everything. That's why I'm sitting on my deck in the cold and dark at 5am, writing to find out why I'm terrified. I'm finding out that it's fear of paying the price.
And what is the price?
It's looking foolish, having to invest the emotional capital over the long term, risking failure.
losing self-respect, suffering the indignity of having responsibility and being found wanting. I fear that I haven't got a story to tell and that my worst suspicions about myself - that I am weak, mediocre and lazy - are true.
But all that's taking myself very seriously.
So the question really is how do I maintain the passion required to do the thing, without losing the perspective that life is not that serious and that I'm just here to play?
(Don't tell me the answer's discipline.)
I'll be persistent and I'll get support for the project. (Great things are not accomplished by people working alone). Then I'll front up to the fear, even dwell in it for a while and invite others in. Or I might carry it around with me in a handbag, like one of those chihuahuas, and I'll let people pat it.
Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
'In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.' ― Lao Tzu
My daughter came to me to ask if I'd listen to the speech she has to give in her English class tomorrow, and I said, 'You read it and I'll say stop when I hear something that could be improved and you can improve it as you go'.
That was the mistake. Right there. I could have said, 'Okay, let's hear it' and then I could have listened and after she had finished I could have waited until she said, 'What do you think?' and then I could have given her a couple of ideas for improvement.
But when she said 'Can you listen to my speech?' I assumed she meant, 'Can you listen to my speech and help me make it into an A+ because we both know that's what I want'. And then I stopped her after the first paragraph to tell her what I thought it needed.
Too much talking, not enough listening, as usual. And not being completely present.
The result? A fight with accusations, bad language and crying.
'The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent' ' ― Alfred Brendel
I'm repelled by the constant pile of student work that I have to assess.
I hate doing 'correction'. I hate not being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. This is a recurring battle I want to stop fighting.
What I really want is to is live without 'discipline'. I want the enjoyment of being engaged in something I love, not being disciplined. Having to discipline myself to do everything is my idea of hell. Am I some kind of spoiled brat?
No. Here's the thing. If you don't like it, find a way of not doing it. I promised this to myself after the four miserable years in my twenties that I spent doing a job I didn't like. Since I switched to teaching I've never looked back, but now I can't bear the 'correction' so my days are numbered in this job. Enough is enough. I'm going to become an assistant principal because that work interests me more.
While I work towards my AP job, I'll be finding ways of avoiding the pile. I'm not having that in my life any more. I'm boldly going where no teacher has gone before. I hearby give up 'correction'. I'll find other ways to assess the kids while I'm working towards the job I want. I'm asserting myself, like a lion.
'Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.'
So many things attract and distract us in the world, including our inner world, that we must learn to attend to the things that we decide are important. For me it is important to attend to the person I am with, to my own feelings, to the world of my senses and to my goals. Sometimes it is good to focus the mind on something just for fun, or to visualise a result that you want. The point is just to attend and not judge. When you judge, you tend to hold on to the situation you are judging and then you miss out on the next experience and miss out on a little piece of life, reducing your vitality.
If I'm tensing my muscles I'm making an effort. If I tense up too much I'll get confused and not know what to do but if I am mindful of what is in front of me I am being alert and if I'm alert I'll know what to do. Being alert is being poised.
Being alert is paying attention, but you need to know what to pay attention to, because what you pay attention to is very important. It'll determine your reality.