"What may you be? Are you of good or evil?
... As you shall prove us, praise us"
Othello (Act V, Scene I)
Our life is shaped as much by our inhibitions as it is by our actions. Our flaws define us as much as our hopes. The questions we do not ask, the risks we fail to take, the moments we fake. Our strengths fill the void, our limitations define the capacity of our life.
If the people I surround myself with compliment my weaknesses, I am greater for them. I have more space to be myself. If I surround myself with people like me, I will only suffocate my self with a calculated ignorant pride.
A friend is not there to tell us what we want to hear. Perfect strangers and enemies do a fine job on that front. A friend holds up a dispassionate mirror and dignifies us with honesty. A friend allows us to be who we are and trust that that is more than enough.
An exclusive focus on the positive does not fuel our growth, it fools our growth. We can keep up the 'fake it till you make it' attitude, but it is a lie and it will always be a lie, so why not just give it up while we still alive. Lies following a coffin do not make for a great wake! Let's wake up while still can.
If we are a true friend to ourselves, we would not tolerate such petty mind games. Why would we want to warp something that we do not understand? Doesn't it make more sense to define ourselves first? Know what is worth keeping or not?
"The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!"
The Merchant of Venice (Act I, Scene III)
I conceal myself in all the positivity I want, but if learn how to avoid the sting of an honest conversations, I will be trapped in my perfect lies till I die. A warm living, walking death is not what I signed up for. Lord knows what I did sign up for, but it surely wasn't that (following the zombie - well beaten path)
Appreciative inquiry makes total sense, it has its place, but it tends to gloss over the harsh colours of ugliness of greed, lust and violence that spray paint themselves on every word and deed. Where do I put all this human frailty? Do I simply tuck all this pride, envy and prejudice under the carpet of avoidance? Does all this foolishness really evaporate when I close my eyes?
Pain and suffering are permanent residents, they are not going to go anywhere fast.I am not suggestion that we focus solely on the ugly and bad things that surround us, only that we take an open eyed, positive look at the human condition. Our flaws make our lives livable, it always gives us noble work to complete. It is our single most important task. Being a friend, parent, lover, neigbour or artist all flow out of this core essence.
We need to get closer to our dark side, explore it's deep hidden crevices, shine a light in it's audacity. Sun Tzu said "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer" - if the enemy lies within, we need to find its fuse and put it out of commission, for good.
The energy consumed in anger, jealousy and envy is not evil. This is misplaced energy. We need to re-divert this energy into a positive outcome. What is that? I don't know, it is different for each of us. Once we know what we want, no one can challenge us - we are free to be.
Once we are able to think positively about the negativity in our life (rather than bury it), we begin to define our boundaries and possibilities for growth. You can afford to be an absent landlord for land or property, but never for your life. I am the person who I know the best. Who else is going to do this work for me> You? Who is going to do your work for you? Me? Get a grip. Get a life!
When I meditate on my own limitations, I put aside what other people have said about me or done to trigger my negative actions. I own the trigger, I need to take back possession of it. The truth is that the pain was already inside of me before someone tripped the wire that I handed them.
When we get to the root of the issue, it all comes down to our grandest illusion - that we are perfect and permanent. We can be young forever. We can be loved by everyone, including ourselves.
Once we grasp the fact that we are imperfect and impermanent, we are finally grabbing the railing to sanity and facing the right way up. Step by step we have to climb out of the self critical voice, the instant gratification, rush to judgment and rediscover our humour. Not only our true voice and the laughter that accompanies it, but the heart beat, the natural rhythm that no computer, car or shopping mall could ever hope to emulate.
We can chose to not be the prisoner of our memory and our environment, or only as good as our last conversation.
I can only deal with the world's problems and access it's hidden potential, if I am able to reach my own capacity first. We do not do this by avoiding the work and making everything happy. We do it by maturing, out-growing the self limiting beliefs, break out of habits of self destruction and co-dependence on a society that has lost its soul. We need to relax and get out of our won way, allow the natural systems to do their work. As human beings we are highly complex and sophisticated, when we learn to trust our senses and nervous system, respect (but not accept) our flaws, we will have the capacity to tap into a well spring of positivity, more positivity than can be summed up in the shallowness of words.
"There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distil it out;
For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers,
Which is both healthful, and good husbandry:
Besides, they are our outward consciences,
And preachers to us all; admonishing
That we should dress us fairly for our end.
Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the devil himself"
Henry V (Act IV, Scene I)