Maybe this is obvious, but I am easily swayed by strong personalities. That may sound funny because I’m such a strong personality, but I fall under the influence of others and get confused about what I want and what I believe. And if the person is an authority figure? Forget it. I’ve probably already signed away my life savings because that person is an authority, they have a doctorate, and experience, and what do I know?
This week especially I’ve been receiving conflicting advice from seemingly every person I come across. Every person has an opinion, and I know this is partially self-inflicted because I’m telling people I’m confused, so of course they’re weighing in. But then I started thinking about it and I realized it’s all well and good for someone to tell me to do X, but they’re not the person who will have to deal with the consequences – I am. I’m the person that will have to deal with the fallout of whatever choice I make, so it’s my responsibility to make a claim for my life and myself.
It’s my responsibility to do what’s best for me, even if other people disagree with it. The questions I don’t ask myself nearly enough are, “What do I want? What do I need?” So often I’m trying to do the “right” thing that I lose myself in the process. My life becomes a series of obligations and all the fun gets sucked out of it. Or even worse, what I want is so abstract that I don’t know how to get there and am weighed down by others’ opinions. For instance, I know I want and need to make more money, but I don’t know how. This is where someone will chime in, “Edit research papers!” or “Write more articles!” and because I’m so desperate to reach my end goal of making more money, I’ll say OK even if I’d rather poke out my eyes with rusty nails than do as suggested.
I wish I had a quote to throw out here but it’s just my luck that today I can’t find anything suitable, which is maybe for the best. Because what it really comes down to is knowing myself, making decisions that are best for me and my life. It’s easy for me to follow rules, to walk along the path others have set for me. Much harder for me to make my own path, to figure out where I want to go, especially if other people disagree with my decisions. And especially if there are many options before me.
The tenets of my spiritual practice are self-realization and service to society. Self-realization means realizing the true Self, the divine, the blissful, the infinite, but I also have to believe part of that process is realizing my little self too. Not just the small things like what do I want to eat today, but what makes me come alive? What makes my soul sing? What is going to bring me closer to realizing that big Self? Both on and off the meditation cushion.
I dream of a world where we pay attention to ourselves, to what we want, to what works best for us. Not in a hedonistic free-for-all, but in a concerted, discerning way. In a way that brings us one step closer to realizing infinite bliss. A world where we make a claim for our own lives.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.
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