Sunday, May 4, 2008

An awkward teenage mind in a 38 year-old-body

OW! Only in the spiritual path can advancement be evinced by the awareness of not knowing (or infinite learning, as I prefer to call it). Just as I think I'm "getting it" POOF! the growing clarity of self-observation saves me from the glory of illusion, tempting me to give it all up to avoid the discomfort of discernment.

OW! My mind expands by getting used to feeling uncomfortable, and even though this is "natural" it hurts like a teenager's body through a sudden growth spurt. Having noticed a tendency to try to avoid situations that make me feel awkward, and having noticed the great energetic expense of this futile effort, I undertook the experiment to switch gears and face one fear per day, without prior deliberation. So guess what? The world didn't come to an end. New scenarios are starting to play out. Encouragement grows. However, because of a tendency to be competitive (or a desire to make up for lost time), some days I may take n 3 challenges instead of one, resulting in biting more I can chew, resulting in mental indigestion = OW.

I say I want to know how my mind works but when it shows me I don't want to look unless I like what I see. For example, let's say I am learning to do something new. I don't avoid being an awkward beginner - I put myself out there. I do relatively "well" until I notice a mistake. Then my mind recognizes it's not just a mistake, but a habit engrained from decades of diligent repetition. Then I notice frustration and anxiety from the analysis - it's usually either the "how do I get rid of this?" - or the "I need to get over this right away!" The bottom line is, my mind wants to cross the bridge before reaching the river. It doesn't want to be in the journey, to observe the moment. It wants to jump across the hole uncertainty, not fall down the rabbit hole. Judgment suppresses feeling.

Maybe the issue is the "fix it" attitude. Maybe the journey serves its own purpose, irrespective of the destination. A writer once said, "we all know how every book ends, so better make story an interesting one". Is it possible to get fascinated with our own lives instead of wanting them to be easy? Can one approach life like a New York Times puzzle or a Rubik's cube - with curiosity, without expectations?

When the head gets too heavy, maybe the real challenge is not to "fix it" but to put it down. Like a lake with ripples, an over-stimulated mind lacks clarity.