Yes, it’s that time of year. Time to go over last year’s list of wishes and desires and goals and see which ones I managed to accomplish and which I didn’t. Which means it’s also time to make next year’s list of wishes, desires, and goals. So to somewhat counteract my very material wish list, here’s my list of things I wish for that are much more intangible, but by and large are far more beneficial to me.
1. More positivity. A temper and a tendency towards negativity are probably the most damaging artifacts that I have left from my family and are probably the two things about my personality that I wish I could change the most. I have a chronic tendency to wear “shit-colored glasses”. I could be looking at the Taj Mahal and would be able to find fault with it wearing those glasses. I’m much better at taking them off than I used to be (in fact, I have become able to take them off, thank the gods), but it would be nice to wake up one day to find that not only have I not put them on in some time, I wouldn’t know where to find them if I wanted to.
2. More compassion. This is somewhat related to #1. If I had more compassion and less rigidity, I wouldn’t find myself angry or irritated so often. Anger and irritation are the direct result of having my particular expectations violated about the world at that moment. If I were not so controlling, if I were more accepting of life as it flows, and more compassionate regarding the people and situations that I find anger me, I would be more positive and compassionate automatically.
3. Less judgment. This is definitely related to #1 and 2. While my judgment is a valuable tool and is what has kept me out of many bad situations, I allow it to define my life sometimes. It was born of a very well-meaning effort to establish positive goals and negative behavior boundaries I should not cross, so that I would not become an adult like the people who raised me. Part of creating those goals and boundaries began as simply creating my rules of judgment in opposition to what I knew, which was bad. Unfortunately, that also meant that I set the bar extremely high, almost impossibly so in some instances. Which resulted in the exact opposite in me of what I wanted. I became highly critical of myself, unyieldingly so, and under the subconscious mask of self-hatred, began behaving in precisely the ways I had sought to avoid. Because one cannot behave lovingly if one hates oneself. Love and hate are incompatible. See #4.
4. More loving self-discipline. So many of us, including myself, go about their lives telling ourselves, “We should do this thing,” and sternly set about making ourselves do whatever it is. And then we wonder why we fail. It’s because we didn’t put love into the equation. Why should you make yourself do something? Beyond all of the “it’s good for you” and related reasons lies the most important reason: because you love yourself and feel that you’re worthy of spending that time and energy to do that thing. I am terrible at this! Those shit-colored glasses are worn most often when looking at myself in the proverbial mirror. I am surprised when people tell me how much they like me, or how important I am to them, or when I am told that I was missed. This is the other part of my personality that I would change in a heartbeat. I know that I do not view myself in a realistic light, or if I do, it’s in a cold, distant, calculated way. As though I were a harsh schoolteacher reluctantly acknowledging a student’s good work because they had no other choice. What the hell? It is this aspect of myself that baffles me the most, and if I were to cull this list down to just one thing, it would be this one.
5. More meditation. This is very related to #1 and 4. If I meditated more often, I would have greater insight into the things that help keep negative habits in my life. Part of me doesn’t want that insight though, doesn’t want to look long and hard into the mirror to see those last few icky bits that I need to get rid of. That part of me has gotten so hung up on being better than my parents that it’s sometimes unable to face the truth because all it knows how to do with things it doesn’t like is hate itself. Hate me. It has become very black-and-white, and that’s just not the way the world works. I know that meditation is the path to ending that black-and-white viewpoint as well as to viewing my flaws much more objectively, and more importantly, with more love.
I have to make myself do it, though. And if I were more positive and more loving, I would not have to struggle with myself to make myself to something as simple as sitting still for fifteen minutes. No wonder I can’t get my own child to be still, I can’t make myself sit still! I’ve become painfully aware how much children mirror their parents, or more specifically, how my own daughter mirrors my behavior. And I MUST remember to do this for both the good and the bad. My daughter is amazing. I cannot forget that she would not be that way if she did not have good parents. She is the walking proof that I need to work through #4. It’s all related. Nothing is inconsequential, everything is connected. Likewise, if I want her to grow up without my own fetters, I’m going to have to work on them.
6. More yoga. I feel so good when I do a really good yoga workout. It’s not about how much physical work I did, it’s about the kind of physical work I did and how well I was able to align myself while I was doing it. If I did it well, I feel so peaceful, balanced, centered, and calm after 60-75 minutes of yoga, and it stays with me for quite a while. The more yoga I do, the longer it stays. And that good feeling helps to stave off most, if not all, of my negative habits. The anger, the judgment, the irritability, etc. Why I don’t make myself do more yoga is very definitely related to some of the points above. Sometimes it’s just because of the vagaries of everyday life. American life in 2010-11 is very hectic and chaotic. So much so that I question our culture’s ability to maintain this kind of frenetic pace, but that’s another post. More often than not, though, I have the time, money, and opportunity, and still I do not go. I can only presume it’s because I don’t think I’m worth the time (see #4).
7. More karate. I started taking karate about 13 months ago, and goddamn do I love it. It is the yang to yoga’s yin, for me anyway. They are completely and totally related insofar as my relationship with my inner body and balance goes. Karate shows me my strength in a way that yoga absolutely cannot, and it is perhaps the most powerful weapon in my arsenal and war against personal negativity. Both yoga and karate leave me with a sensation of wow, did I just do THAT? but only karate leaves me with the sensation of goddamn, I just did something really cool. I did not know how strong I was until someone put a target in front of my fist and said, “Hit it as hard as you can.” In karate class, I feel like Linda Hamilton in The Terminator. And perhaps I need that feeling more than anything else, as a way to drive the other goals, because it is the thing that I do that makes me feel like I can do anything. I guess this should be #1! 🙂
Empowerment: it’s what’s for breakfast. Have some for lunch, dinner, and snacks, too.
8. More time with friends. Like so many, a great deal of my personal interaction occurs via keyboard and monitor. I would like more face time with my friends. There’s been more the last year than in previous years, and I would really like to continue that trend. We all need more sangha, community, and I know some of the best people in the world for creating sangha.
9. More writing. This past year I participated in NaNoWriMo and also started using the website 750 Words. In the month of November, I wrote about 80,000 words. @_@ Totally shocked the shit out of myself with that, lemme tellya. All of it fresh, all of it memories from childhood. I started at the beginning, and told my whole story up to about the year my daughter was born. So much has happened both internally and externally since that amazing event that even nearly eight years later, I lack the perspective to objectively write about those years. That’s all right, I’ll have something to do when I’m an “empty nester”, heh. In the meantime, at the age of nearly 40, and feeling as though I am on the brink of something big that finally, at long last, ties together the various threads that I have been weaving and dragging around for so many years, I have not just what I wrote this year, but another 120,000 words in the form of memoirs and travelogues with which I can almost certainly wrangle something really beautiful that I would like to share with others. If I can find the bravery to do so. This blog is part of finding that. This is the testing pool. So far so good.
None of these things addresses why I feel so negatively towards myself sometimes and therefore have not done things things more often, and that will have to be something I contemplate deeply and meditate upon a lot as I progress along my path.
“The problem is choice.” – Neo, Matrix: Reloaded
At some point I made the choice to view myself badly, or the choice was made for me by virtue of the fact that no one around me ever loved themselves, and so therefore that was a lesson that I could not possibly learn. Not until much, much later, and much, much more slowly. The adult brain is so much less malleable than a child’s, which is why it’s so goddamned important for us to be raised with love. But someday I will have to understand that choice, however and by whomever it was made.
And perhaps that is the greater wish that underlies the nine above: to understand the choices that I have made in my life, for better or for worse, whether I made them or they were made for me.
“None of us can see past a choice we do not understand.” – The Oracle, Matrix: Revolutions