There’s a big difference between contentment and resignation, but they’re often confused.
I sat down to meditate this morning. Soon, Gado came over. (That’s him in the pic.) He sniffed one of my hands, then the other, and then laid out in front of me and slowly shuttered his eyes. He was going to help me meditate. I smiled. Then thought, I think he might be asleep.
But knowing he was there did help me even though he wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t guiding my meditation. He wasn’t even fetching me a towel. But he was still there for me. He made me feel better, and that isn’t something I should dismiss. That foundation of good feeling is what allows me to focus and do what I need to do. He may have no idea what’s going on, but he is helping. And you know what? I’m helping him too. But it’s with something so subtle and simple that I forget. But sometimes we don’t need explanations. We just need to stretch out on the ground by a friend and clear our head.
Agent Smith was right. Death is inevitable.
Neo lived here, but he did later die. I am going to die. You are, too. We’re all going to die. We all will cease to exist one day. It is inevitable. All the bad stuff that happens to us will pass. The good stuff, too. Focusing on any of that while death looms is silly when you think about it. We win the lottery everyday when we wake up in the morning with the ability to perceive our surroundings and make conscious choices about what we want or where we want to go.
I remember feeling like Neo not long ago, when I woke up from my Matrix. I had been following a life that others had constructed. I had values, but they were borrowed. I had causes, but I was only using them to bring meaning to my life. And so awake, I was able to see I was far from the person I wanted to be. I was pretty disgusted when I’d finally lifted the covers I’d thrown over the sordid mess that was my personality. All I did was judge myself and other people. I was such a pessimist I don’t know how anyone wanted to be around me. Listening to your internal dialogue is so powerful, but it can be depressing!
So this was hard. But it’s been even harder to accept myself. Actually, I might never fully accept myself, but that is a goal of perfection: Realizing we are imperfect and not worrying about it.
A great way of pushing thru realized imperfection is pressure
Back to Neo. He was facing some pressures in the real world. He’d just taken the red pill, instead of the blue pill, and woken up from a virtual reality world of a comfortable life. He finds himself in the sewers of a city, being chased by robots. Just as Cypher, one of the other human refugees from the Matrix told him: “I know what you’re thinking. Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”
Cypher wanted to escape the real world and go back to the Matrix. I think we all feel that way sometimes. We want to hide behind a fierce attitude, the pride in our career, the pleasure in a partner or our children, or a respectable cause to fight for. Instead of facing reality, we find it easier to escape it, placing importance on things or gaining value from other people when that value should originate in ourselves.
I think the pressure to survive helped Neo. This is a pressure we don’t have. Consequently, we can get distracted, or we can become so focused on doing the right thing, we become overwhelmed by the task. I’ve awakened from the distractions, but I’m still overwhelmed sometimes.
Whether we’re distracted or overwhelmed, we need to keep the inevitability of death in our heads. This will bring about the gratitude and the focus on the here and now, and once we’re focused, we’re not worried about needing anything from anyone. We start controlling our lives, instead of letting others do it for us. We are better able to make ourselves happy.
The sound of inevitability: It’s good to hear that sound to put things in perspective.
I am going to come clean: I’ve fallen off the wagon. The days have been getting away from me, and I haven’t accomplished what I wanted. Days have become weeks, and weeks have become a month, and thus my time has slipped away. Have you ever been there? Here are the three steps to help get back on track:
1. Accept yourself
2. Determine your paradigm
3. Set longterm goals, then set smaller goals that lead to them
Accepting yourself is not enough
After a long time, I’ve come to accept myself. I mentioned accepting myself briefly in a previous blog. Yesterday I mentioned it to someone and they asked what I meant. Accepting myself doesn’t mean that I say I am ok with the way I am, and that I don’t need to change.
Accepting myself is understanding that I am responsible for myself and my happiness
Acceptance is knowing that your environment doesn’t make you happy or sad. Your environment includes the people around you, your physical surroundings, your accomplishments or failures and even your physical appearance. In this mindset, you don’t react to your environment, you act on it.
After acceptance, you can then take action
Acceptance is not enough to be happy. We must do. But doing takes effort. It takes discipline. If you find yourself lacking the drive and you’ve had a long period of inaction, reassess your goals. So I’m back at the drawing board, reviewing my goals: Get two books published by the end of next year. For you, it might be get a certification to help your career along, hiking the Appalachian trial, or restoring an old car. Whatever it is, you need to realize it fully. Finding your goals is more than listing specific accomplishments. Your true goals are based on something much deeper..your purpose. Your passion.
Purpose is your fundamental goal
To find your purpose, you need to find the lens through which you see the world. You need to define your paradigm. In general, this is the same for everyone: Do something of value and be valued. Remind yourself of this to help keep you on track. Consider the alternative: Doing nothing of much value. That’s not a scenario I want to face. Do you?
Having no short-term goals is like bowling without seeing the pins
For me, small goals involve building content. Writing a chapter a day, writing a synopsis of every day, and a blog article every week. These tasks keep me on track to my longterm goal of publishing two books and writing for magazines and periodicals. Revisit your longterm goals to ensure you’re doing what you want, and to motivate you towards those accomplishments. If you find you are unable to meet your short term goals, break them down to even smaller, shorter-term goals: Yearly into monthly, monthly into weekly, weekly into daily.
Don’t get discouraged
Remember: Those accomplishments don’t make or break you. You are in control of yourself, so accept your responsibility. Be aware of yourself. Only you know if you are making a true effort at living your paradigm. Organize your goals so that your behavior matches your passion.
So I’m back on track. I trust that I’ll see you in action soon enough, too.