The attempt to overcome the compulsion to please friends and family is perceived as aggression. Good luck with that if you make that choice.
The decision to be Perfect in order to protect one’s self from the criticism of others is very frustrating. It appears to require increased perfection. Self awareness defining the need to overcpme this apparent weakness defines the Perfect solution (more Perfection).
They who has spent a lifetime protecting themselves from powerful emotion may learn through an eventual trauma, that this skil of Being the Strong Onel is not really useful. But after thinking about the problem there is a statistical probability that the next major life decision will be to become Sronger still.
The child who gets rewarded for being valiant and courageous develops a life habit and subsequent reputation for Trying Very Hard, no matter how difficult or dangerous the challenge. This individual must Fail at everything in order to continue getting that much-needed attention, the perpetual help of others. Attaboy. Keep on trying; you can do it. This individual will probably continue to Try Harder and Harder to get that approval. And if the need for overcoming this life message comes to fore, the most familiar tool in this person’s kit will be the ability to Try Harder and Harder to overcome the habit of Trying Harder.
What is the solution?
There are two very strange characteristics about these types of decisions. The first is that for most of us these powerful life decisions were made when we were between twelve and eighteen months of age. Our best thinking taught us these things. The second is that again, for most of us, the likelihood of other major decisions being made is small. The likelihood of making counter-decisions is most surely never going to happen without help. Other so-called major decisions, most of which have to do with choosing a social life and/or a career are but sub-sets of those childhood declarations made so far below the level of awareness that they are rarely known by those who live by them.
Logic can prevail. But that is a dangerous path in itself.
Love can overcome. Who will be The Lover?
Is it better to wait till that final moment to disrobe?
Or shall we leave a trail of discarded garments as we continue our journey.
Forget the problem. Help someone. Ask them how you think that can best be done.
Then do it if you choose.
We often don’t know how to do anything until someone asks us what needs to be done.
Living a life of being helpful keeps us in new clothes.
Really. I believe that is true.
I see a lot of garments on the path behind me.
A few of them are mine.
Most are not.
I wrote an article on Doing Business in the Twentieth Century. I wrote it on the morning of the Twenty Fifth and saved it as a first draft. This was a Saturday and I am in the habit on Saturdays and Sundays of altering the mornings to do those things that I cannot do during the five-day week consisting of sixty or more hours of writing and research. My Different Stuff is usually done by noon after which I will come home for lunch or sip and sup with friends. Then back to my desk.
This particular Saturday held more of these exceptional activities of a category which I call chores and errands. I therefore, gave myself permission to “take the day off”. I assumed that I’d come home that evening and that sometime before midnight I would press the “publish” button and witness the creation of one more blog thereby living up to my original agreement with my readers and myself to publish daily In the past eleven moths I have missed a dozen or so and republished another dozen or so. And off I went to the main library in our fair city.
Some hours later I was leaving a lecture. It was 9:15 PM, there was no moon, no lights in the parking lot and though I knew where my vehicle was it was difficult with so many vehicles, to determine a clear path in the general direction.
Suddenly I noticed a path. It took a certain amount of reasoning skill to reach this conclusion. There was a space between two vehicles which though devoid of any other visible clues, led me to believe that I was looking at an empty parking space. The first clue that my reasoning was off its mark came when I tripped on a curb. What a strange place for a median I thought as I looked forward and assured myself that there was no tree in front of me; I could see cars in another row twenty feet in front of me. I looked to my left, saw my vehicle and hurried forward. Oops.
No tree, I think to myself as I suddenly find myself hurtling through the dark night sky. No tree, but a boulder (I realized as my military training took over) and I positioned my flying body into a tight tuck and roll. My head hit first.
My right arm was protecting my thorax as I rolled to the right. My right shoulder took most of the impact a split second after my head struck gravel, driving my right arm into my rib cage, cracking the very ribs I sought to protect. Those who witnessed my short flight had trouble seeing me after the landing and several people much younger than I tripped into the same rock, a black boulder. The median which the rock decorated seemed to be there for no reason at all other than to tack on another few thousand dollars to the original construction bill forty years ago when the center was built..
I lay there for several minutes, talking with those who sought to help, taking inventory of my parts, already understanding that my ribs were in bad shape yet confident that I would live. That was Friday evening this is Tuesday, three days later.
Yesterday I came near death for fifteen minutes.
The result of pain killers given for obvious reasons and laxatives to overcome the bad results of the prescribed opiate was a bowel obstruction.
The result of the antibiotic given to overcome a mysterious infection was anaphylaxis.
The two events were back to back.
I found a better way.
Prescribed, they were, these cures for the pain of broken ribs, swollen joints, injured muscles.
From a fall the night before
In an unlit parking lot
On a moonless night.
No more meds now.
Pain today? “The pain will be with you for a month.”
Pain nearly gone.
Secret herbs and mystic prayer? (Of course.)
Recordings of chanting lamas?
Nothing rhymes with Nopalea.
No inflammation with Nopalea.
Made from Shmoos?
Nae, ’tis cactus of the nopal variety.
A Gift it was.
As were the prayers and hands-on nurturing by friends and family.
There is a meeting room in the church that I attend once a week. The rest of the week this room is known as The Library. On Thursday evenings it is the room that is occupied by THE TABLE and those who circle around it.
I have been a part of that circle since 1976, nearly half a life time ago. Around THE TABLE the Thursday night occupants have shared laughter, tears and applause. We have hugged and congratulated each other, we have loved and spoken in rare occasions of anger, apologized, shared and carried on.
Last night I arrived to discover that our room had been flooded by the most recent August monsoon downpour. The room was emptied, a note on the door directing us to another room on higher ground.
It was not the same. I have adjusted to moves to and from other rooms before. Not a problem. But tonight was different. We weren’t gathered around THE TABLE. We weren’t looking at each other’s faces. There was no smiling, joking or hugging. We seated ourselves and stared at the back of the heads of those in front of us. It reminded me of the time at a retreat years before when the guidance councilor had asked our group – it was about the size of this one – to circle the room, turn to our left and place our hands on the shoulders of the person before us.
We were then instructed to start a massage and to give a great neck and shoulder rub to the person in front of us. I was giving such a wonderful rub up to that moment when we were ordered to stop that I hadn’t even noticed the one that I had gotten, although I was curiously aware that I was now missing what must have been a great experience.
Next we were to repeat the task but this time to focus on the tactile gift that we were receiving from the person behind us. Suddenly, I noticed with gratitude the rub down my neck and shoulders were getting. The blissful experience lasted at least three seconds, only to disappear completely a few seconds later. (Think about it.)
Last night, like that circular pat down of decades before, we were missing the usual excitement as we sat and critiqued each other’s haircuts and frayed collars. Eventually we focused on the chairperson at the front of the room, and then to our speaker of the evening.
When we broke into discussion groups I left and went back to visit THE TABLE. It had been in several different rooms over the years and was actually two tables as those of us with over twenty years experience knew. This amazing bit of 19th century woodworking was scratched and marred by life itself. I know nearly every scratch and have stories to tell about many of them. When I reached the drying room I looked at THE TABL. I was not looking at a 72″ X 72″ table; it was now divided into two and piled with chairs and boxes of books and as I stood there before it I began to remember…………
So many stories. So many births and deaths and memories of great courage and fears overcome by Love and Good Will………..So why would my first memory be of gastric distress? Perhaps because I had to leave the room tonight as I had on another Thursday evening so many years ago.
I was trapped in this small crowded room. iIhad to pass gas. At that time twenty years ago the two tables were placed end to end in a different room. When the speaker finished, rather than break into groups, we just started going around THE TABLE, taking turns discussing the evening’s topic. I had eaten home cooked pinto bean tostadas an hour before the meeting and I was very gassy. I quietly rose from THE TABLE and walked out the door and down the hall into the kitchen. My ability to fart on command was totally under control. Grateful that no one would be able to hear me I celebrated my good fortune by allowing the pressure to build and with careful timing, filled the room with the sound of five beautifully tuned, mega-farts. As the final toot emerged from my bowels, in walked my buddy Al. “Quack, quack” said Al. “Quack, quack ” said I. (That is how Al and I always greeted each other back then.) Al leaned to the left, raised his right knee practically to his chin and let ’er rip. Dismayed by this sudden display of competitive spirit but not to be easily outdone , I did what I could to discourage this would-be champion of gustatory gassiness and with a roar of disgust filled the air with pinto-rial fumes and stood back to witness Al’s response.
I don’t know who won the contest that night but I remember thinking that if our friends hadn’t heard the bark of a dozen farts they most certainly heard our shrieks of childish macho laughter.
We returned to the room of THE TABLE and bowed to the huge round of applause.
Today is a wonderful day.
With each new dawn I greet the day by saying aloud “I Love Life and I Love Sharing it.”I started saying something much like that nearly thirty years ago. I had written what started out to be a children’s play and which evolved into a full-blown musical. The production was called Living Love and Loving Life and though the theme song would bring the show a lot of attention, the show itself was destined to be an embarrassing and expensive flop by an unknown author. In spite of that it seemed that everywhere I went I was asked to talk about the storyline and to sing the song, “I had a Dream last Night”. The publicity ops were practically nonstop.
I was partnering at that time with Movie Director Peter Bogdanovitch and his family on a series of high-profile art expositions; I was doing business with a number of Hollywood people and I had many such connections. The storyline of this play was about my own life as a thirty-something adult wrapped and packaged as an adolescent lad learning about life. I was a newly recovering alcoholic and I was dazzled by the magic and newness of life. I questioned nothing; I believed that I had acquired the Midas touch, gold being a metaphor for Joy, Happiness and Ultimate Success. “I Love Life and I Love Living It” I said at every opportunity. And then the opportunities ground to a halt.
I drank again.
I began again.
With more caution.
That was in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Today I thought of those days and realized that I have much to learn and I am grateful for that.
I also realized that I have learned in recent years to say “No.” In fact, I say this with such authority sometimes that my friends, not being accustomed to this side of me, often react as though I am experiencing some kind of overwhelming spiritual challenge when in fact I am just sick and tired of saying “yes” when I mean “no”. I wonder if this is a normal response to the rapid changes that sometimes accompany aging.
I argued with Morris today. I argued with Betty and I argued with myself. Morris wants me to meditate with a group of people. Betty wants me to accompany her at a church social. I want to be able to handle conflict with friends and family by having it both ways.
Finally, it was time to pick up my pal Kamal and take him to the eye doctor. His daughter will pick him up and bring him home. Kamal and I have been friends for thirty-five years. When we met he was a part of that group of celebrities which was a part of my rapidly changing life. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this small group of celebrities was but a small portion of Kamal’s much larger circle of friends which was and is heavily populated with heads of state and major International decision makers. And yet, he is the only friend I have with whom I can have a normal conversation. We laugh, we kid, we push each other to the limits of personal tolerance of each other’s politico-socio-philosophical points of view, being careful not to go too far. Once, recently I said to Kamal. “That’s too far.” that was the end of that. Our conversation changed immediately to the books we each are writing which kept our attention focused on each others ideas for a couple of hours . We both grow and learn from these exchanges. We both agree that nothing can be learned by conversations between like-minded people. That may be the only thing on which we agree.
Today we laughed about a lady friend whose mother wanted her to be an opera singer (or a teacher); I don’t remember what. The lady wanted to be an embalmer. For some reason we both agreed to the hilarity of that lady’s statement and demonstrated that fact by laughing for the next mile or so. And then we began arguing and laughing about what should have followed after she made that oh, so serious remark. And then I dropped him off. And I came home, mentally refreshed and eager to share my day with my readers.
Be good to yourself; you deserve it.
(That’s what I say to my listening audience on Monday nights.)
Accept the Love and pass it on. (I say that everyday also.)
“Curio: Where are you getting this stuff?
Amo: I’m making this stuff up as I go along…………..”
Amo: ……….You should try it sometime. It’s called thinking.
Curio: You’re making fun of me. There must be a book I can read. Do you know of one?
Amo: I’m writing one.
Curio: You’re always writing. Your ideas don’t make much sense to me.
Amo: Well, how about this. Look for a book that tells you exactly what to do.
Curio: What if everything in the book that I buy is wrong and I spend half a life time following the instructions and my life gets worse?
Amo: Worse than what? Worse than when you bought the book or worse than it would have been if you hadn’t bought the book. From where I stand you sound like a guy in trouble. Go buy a book.
Curio: What kind of book should I buy? A book on Logic? A Bible perhaps?
Amo: Buy one of each.
Curio: But they’ll contradict each other.
Amo: How can that be? The book on logic makes no statements. It only shows you how to make your own.
Curio: That could take forever. I want answers.
Amo: No you don’t; you want someone to tell you what to do – what to think. You’re too lazy to do the work. You want others to do it for you. And that isn’t gonna work for you; you just got through saying that you have no way of knowing if someone else’s idea is dependable. So what’s left?
Curio: But I want to know the Truth.
Amo: And what is that, do you think?
Curio: Total Knowledge, perhaps? I don’t know.
Amo: When we allow others to tell us what to think we have no way of knowing if the words we decided to obey are true. You just told me that. But with logic, the door to Total Knowledge will always be open to you.
Curio: There must be an easier, softer way.
Amo: There is Curio. It requires only one thing.
Curio: What’s that, Amo?
Amo: Faith, Curio.
Curio: Faith in what Amo?
Amo: Faith in Love, Curio. Love is synonymous with Total Knowledge. It is Truth. It is. All That There Is. Everything you’ll ever need to know will be revealed as you live your life, revealed when you need it, a drop at a time.
Curio: When will I have all the answers, Amo?
Amo: When the time comes Curio. When the time comes.
Curio: And in the meantime….?
Amo: Accept the Love and Pass it On.