I was raised to believe in the existence of certain people, usually men, who were geniuses. What was also included in this belief, though rarely stated, was the world as we know it was the result of these people of genius. And that we all benefited.
I was also raised to believe I wasn’t one of these persons of genius. And that I would do well to believe in the things I was told for my own good, and find my niche and something I could do well, and do it.
One of the consequences of this upbringing and belief system is my present existential paradox. I live in a world that is absolutely dysfunctional and chaotic, and even to the most sympathetic eye not benefiting at all from these men of genius. It seems the fields in which their genius flourished does not have very much to do with the every day life of school, work, family, friends, achievements and failures as we all live it.
The other situation I am experiencing is that I am dependent on a drug, or another’s opinion, or guru, or authority of any kind to make sense of life. Why? Because I have next to no belief in myself because I have spent so much of my life looking externally. Add to this that I am daily humbled as a functioning human being by our various technologies, and my prospects for someday standing on my own two feet are not good.
At this point in my life where this matters most is in areas of life related to good and bad stress. I feel I have limited coping skills when it comes to handling anxiety and this makes me peculiarly vulnerable to this world’s idiocies. My response is either to self medicate, dissolve in the music in my headsets, or retreat- usually to bed or a movie, whichever comes first to hand. And I assume that everyone else is doing the same so I don’t feel so bad.
For it seems the external world is more than ready to first make us anxious then to pacify us. And people who can do some version of this in the pursuit of their goals tend to be successful and become leaders in schools, the community, and our workplaces.
I’m beginning to wonder if this has something to do with our versions of genius and the resulting hierarchies of knowledge and information that accompanies them?
And regarding the stress it’s not that I want to do without it. But I want to feel I’m making the most of my life as I’m living it without being too limited by the time spent being anxious or angry, being drugged, or asleep.
So I’ve decided to stop participating. And I’m going to concentrate on being here. And I’m going to put those two words in Bold Capitals- Being Here. And it’s easy to define what being here means. It means not being somewhere else.
It’s a bit of a lie to say I’m not participating because what I’m really going to do is pay attention to everything I can – both the things in the world around me, and the things that are coming from within me.
So the first thing I’ve figured out is how to sit quietly by myself for a few minutes at different times each day. And just watch.
I sit. I observe the different thoughts as they occur. I feel my heart race when some reflection of past discord arises in my thoughts. Or when some idea excites me. And I watch my feelings flag when I think of some recent disappointment. And I find that very interesting because my feelings seem to have more to do with my thinking than with my emotions. Because of course the disappointment in question happened some days ago and I can remember my emotions at the time. And they are different from the feeling I now have.
Most of all I like it when I’m thinking about nothing- though when I first felt this I got scared and ran away from it. I felt like I was disappearing. Or that I should be doing something and was guilty to be just sitting here doing nothing. Because I wasn’t taking a drug, I wasn’t letting thoughts run away with me, I wasn’t feeling really tired. I was just doing nothing – except paying attention.
So I’m inviting you to come sit with me here.
I’m going to figure out how to be here. Not constantly feeling guilty about things I didn’t do on my ‘to-do’ list’ or things I feel I could have done better in the past. I’m going to keep doing the practical things that have to be done and the things that support other people who depend on me to do them. But really, though I appear to be doing something, I’m actually just going to be sitting here.