The Any Age Challenge
Our Best is our Best. Whatever our age we respond to the moment with everything we have within us, at that moment. The message being sent here, and the challenge, is to honestly see, hear and feel what is happening around us and within us. For to react from our past without an awareness that the past is our driving force prevents our best from shining fully.
A simple example. You make what you think is an innocent comment to a friend "I noticed the papers on the table, some good quotes and comments for your upcoming meeting". Friend "Thanks but I prefer not to discuss it, besides it's not your deal"..Off he or she goes and you have been dismissed.
If your ego gets hooked you will feel miffed, might have hurt feelings or at the very least be annoyed at having been told it is not your deal and having been dismissed. This is you reacting unconsciously to the moment as an insult or personal injury. From your point of view you were perfectly innocent and meant no harm. If your ego, self image or past did not govern the situation, if you were conscious of the moment, you might feel those pricks to your ego but you would let them go as soon as they arose. You might then notice that your friend needed to own the input, that he or she did not want another's input. You might find out that your "authority" on the subject was lacking, that your input would only confuse the matter (meaning you are opinionated and hard to shut down). Whatever the reason accepting the situation as it is and not as you wish it to be brings the best out of you. Whether you fully understand or not, by letting go of your personal feelings, you are better able to respond to the moment as it is. You have offered yourself to another to accept or reject as they choose without demanding comfort and acceptance as the price of your input of friendship.
This simple example only shows how complicated even the mildest confrontation can become if we remain unconscious or heavily involved with our own ego and self image. It also shows how easy it is to let things go without escalating the moment into something it is not and does not need to be.....our own personal drama.
Sensing, Seeing, Hearing, Feeling
There is no free lunch. Every time you enter a room, everytime you meet friends on the street, every time you engage another human being, the next moment will test the very essence of who you are as you respond to the energy of all those around you. How much you are aware of your own energy and all other energies will determine whether your response meets the occasion or misses the mark altogether.
Be the last to enter a classroom with everyone else seated, walk out on a stage, walk up to a cluster of young men on the street corner, open a gate and hear the snarl of a big dog greet your first step, enter a friends house as a stranger, come home after a long day to discord and chaos, go on a job interview, get called into your boss's office for a performance review, go on a first date, get balled out by your parents, break something valuable, try to get over an insult, avoid a fight, find out you are really sick or your loved one is sick, join the family for Sunday dinner. What do you feel at each of these moments in your life. Ok or not OK, comfortable or uncomfortable, secure or terrified.
We engage the world in a thousand different ways, day in and day out, year in and year out. While we are doing this we are growing up and growing older. So what do we see, hear, sense and feel as we navigate each moment of our lives and does it matter?
Yes it does matter. Whether we are children, teenagers, young adults or on our way to becoming older, it matters. For what we are aware of challenges us to respond appropriately, and what we are not aware of can result in missed opportunities, messy drama, and ill advised behavior.
What do you feel when you enter a room or engage another human being. We each have some space around us that is all ours. It is full of our own energy and the energy of everything else brushing against it or entering it directly. This is the energy that we respond to, instinctively, intuitively, and with our very strong and often defensive Self Image/Ego. Do some people make you feel uncomfortable or ill at ease? Is the atmosphere friendly and safe? or is it anxious and disturbing? Do you want to stay or leave?
Do you feel all eyes on you? Why do you want to stay (is it approval you sense?). Why do you feel like leaving? Do you sense disapproval? It is your appearance, were you late, did you fail to turn in your assignment, what makes you feel uncomfortable?
We all experience negative feelings stemming from our sense of being inadequate. This is our inner self image under attack whether from others or from our misinterpretation of what others are expressing. This is not real and comes from our unwillingness to accept what is or what is not. If someone disapproves of us it comes from within them. They, like you and I, have their own self image and Ego. It is all illusion yet our phantom selves get intensely involved in every illusion that appears out of thin air. You can actually watch as your self image responds to outside images, whether threatening or approving. When we take notice of these responses within, a little humor goes a long way. Lets face it, when our entire existance depends on another person's approval we have turned over to another what only we should own. We are not what our self image thinks we are, nor are we what other's think we are. To continuously respond to outside approval or disapproval can turn us into knots and warp our behavior. The moment no longer exists as the past, future or someone elses opinion assumes a higher priority. Our very essence as an aware living, breathing life form disappears and is replaced by an opinion. An opinion that has no real merit and is loaded with simple judgements and labels.
What is it we want out of life? When we offer to the world the best we have to offer then that is all we need to do. Our best comes not from a self image that needs to feel superior but from an intense awareness of the life energy within us. We all want to share it but we must share with care. Sharing with care does not just mean cautious sharing, it means that you are aware of yourself and the state of consciousness of the other person. If the other person is all focused on themselves, any sharing you attempt will fall on deaf ears or could easily be misinterpreted. Your interaction with another will over time become unconditional. This is called unconditional because we do not expect or demand anything in return.
It may not be appropriate to leave just because we feel uncomfortable but the awareness of these energy fields and the awareness of how they make you feel can bring you into the moment. This allows you to observe with neutrality, meaning your own past or anxiousness over the future (though it may arise) does not command your responses. We recognize what is as it is and accept it. Our behavior relates to what is out there and does not arise from what is inside us. Practice this awareness of the energy around you and the kind of energy within. By noticing the energy it will not command you. You can and will allow it to be present but it will not dictate how you respond to the moment. Each moment can then be experienced as it is.
I am not a martial artist but I do like to reference some of the skills I see in their way of life. We begin with a field of vision (including being aware of the energy around us) that is a 90 degree arc in front of us. This is a narrow arc and limits our experience of the world around us, we just do not sense it or see it. The practice of awareness, over time can increase the arc of awareness to a full 360 degrees. In this state we are really not only aware of our inner thoughts, feelings and state of mind, we also can sense everything within our arc of awareness. This is wonderful stuff and a very worthy goal for it is a calm alert presence without fear or anger. Most beneficial in difficult moments, most enjoyable in moments where pleasure is available.
There are no Ordinary Moments
In the novel "The way of the Peaceful Warrior" Socrates puts his hands on Dan's shoulders after he ask him what is going on and his initial response was "nothing much". From the pressure of Socrates's hands Dan sees everything that is really going on and it is like opening a box that you think is empty only to have the world appear in vivid color all around you. To really grasp the idea that each moment can be filled with something new and interesting is not only strange but exciting as well. But you have to be in the moment to experience the moment.
There are no ordinary moments only when you are paying attention.