Sunday, December 16, 2012

Living in Reality

This post has been a year in the making so it's fitting it will be my last post of 2012 (probably). "Living in reality" has been the theme for me this year. There is so much I wanted to believe, so much I hoped for, that hasn't come true. I've spent most of this year feeling heartbroken and sad because my fantasies came crashing down around my head. But that's a good thing.

It's a good thing because instead of being in denial, or waiting for the day xyz will happen, I'm addressing what's here, now. Fantasy has been a huge part of my life. I used to get lost in my head dreaming about the future. It was my coping mechanism as a child and I needed it to survive. But now I'm an adult and it no longer serves me to fantasize because it means I miss out on all the good stuff that's here before me. Living in reality means I'm no longer comparing what's in front of me with the dream in my mind.

You might be perplexed reading this when my blog is called "Another World is Probable." Isn't my whole blog one big idealistic fantasy? No, it is not. My dreams for a new world may be somewhat of a fantasy but I see seeds of those dreams in the everyday world. There exists unconditional love and heroism in the here and now. I think of Victoria Soto who died while saving her students from a shooter. I think of the principal of Sandy Hook elementary school who also died trying to wrest the gun from the shooter. This is real life. 

It's tempting for sensitive souls and spiritualists to say, "Let's pray about this and visualize a better world," and have that be the end of it. I agree, let's pray and visualize a better world, but let's also do something. Let's also invest in mental health care, let's notice who's around us and what they're doing. Let's listen to each other and take action when others are suffering. We can't keep living in a fantasy about "the good ole days" or dreaming of the future when something a psychic predicted will come to pass. It doesn't matter what life was like 50 years ago, or what it will be like 50 years ahead. What matters is reality. I'm not saying we should all start miring in the darkness, lamenting how awful things are. I'm suggesting we take stock of what's before us and keep hoping for the best.

I would much rather acknowledge the good things in this world than fantasizing about something better. There are so many beautiful things in reality. People sacrificing their lives for someone else. Neighbors helping each other in time of need. Little children who squeal with delight when they see their favorite cup.

When I wrote about "children who squeal with delight when they see their favorite cup" I was thinking of this picture. So stinking cute!

I'm not sure what I'm driving at except that I see the wisdom of accepting things as they are while also trying to change the things we can. I think maybe Howard Zinn sums it up best:

"An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction."

But I think first and foremost this comes about by living in reality and seeing what's here, now.

I dream of a world where we live in reality while also striving for something better. A world where we see the beauty of what is. A world where we celebrate our triumphs and lament our failures. A world where we live in the here and now while also seeing infinite possibilities for the future.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Golden Rule for You Too

I didn't blog last week because I was terribly sick, nor the week before because I was in Chicago for work. My reasons for not doing so fit in with the theme of this post as well as the last one I wrote, "Radical Self-Care."

My best friend pointed out to me that I would never treat other people the way I've been treating myself (i.e. pushing too hard, being critical, etc.). It made me think of the golden rule, "Treat others as you'd like to be treated." In this case it's more of the reverse, "Treat yourself the way you treat others." I'm very good at being loving with the people in my life but I'm not so good at being loving toward myself. I don't beam love to myself the way I do to others. I don't pamper myself or treat myself the way I do my friends. It's not because I'm being malicious or punishing myself, it's because I really hadn't given it much thought until I came down with the "plague." (I actually don't know what illness I have. All I know is I'm SICK.)
A golden ruler! I couldn't resist this image.
The most important realization I had this week is there are many parts to me and they all want to be loved. I've been saying affirmations for years but they've been directed at the adult me and she's easy to love. She's bold and fun and smart and adventurous. It's easy to say, "I love you," in the mirror to her because I mean it. But as I've written about before, I have an inner child and she's the one who needs love the most. She is needy and clingy and never feels like there's enough love for her.

My inner child is shy and quiet and wants to disappear. She's scared of people, places, and things. My inner child is the one who needs my care and attention. The one who my affirmations need to be aimed at. Do I like to admit these things? No I do not, but I'm writing this post in case there are others out there like me who feel like they never get enough love and they don't understand why. The people who've been saying affirmations for years and are puzzled why they still get so anxious about relationships. The people who could say, "I love you" to themselves all day and not have it make a difference. Perhaps it's because the affirmations are not being directed at the right you.

I know, I know, affirmations are cheesy and sometimes feel ridiculous, so what's the point of saying them? I say them because I don't like feeling anxious. I don't like clinging to people or boarding the bus to crazy town. The external world is a projection of the internal one and I want both worlds to be awesome. I want to feel whole and complete and loved. I want to give myself the endless supply of love I so desperately crave so I don't keep turning to an unsustainable source. The love I want is infinite and no finite person will be able to meet my demand except for me. I am the only person who knows how I feel all the time so that's why I say affirmations, because I need them and because I want to feel at peace.

To the parts of you and me that are "unlovable" and "unattractive." The parts that no one gets to see because they remain hidden. The parts that desperately want attention but so rarely get it. To you I say, "I love you SO much. I send you nothing but unconditional love and sweetness. You deserve to be loved as much as everyone else." I hope you'll join me in saying it too.

I dream of a world where we all love the parts of us that are deemed hard to love. A world where we treat ourselves the way we treat others. A world where we say affirmations to the parts that need them the most. A world brimming over with love for all of us. A world where we really understand what it means to live the golden rule.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.