After the Celebration, Then What?

A big event occurs. You graduate from high school or college, you win the lottery, get married, and what do you expect next from your life? You imagine the joy of seeing the winning numbers going on forever. You imagine the ceremony, the parties, the honeymoon. But after the celebrating, what then? Do you imagine cleaning the house? Taking out the trash?

 

We expect the world would be changed or we would be changed. That the quality of our experience of life would be better, heightened, maybe. Or the quality of our mind would be different. And it is, but not like we expected. We are always changing. But we easily get caught up in the idea or the story we tell ourselves instead of the reality or totality.

 

Especially today, when the level of anxiety is so high due to all the threats to so many of us, and so many aspects of our lives, including our sense of humanity and the climate, our health or control over our own bodies, it is easy to expect or hope for even more from any event than it could possibly produce. For example, we could work to successfully elect a candidate we trust, or to defeat one we knew had to be defeated, and afterwards, we expect all the threats to disappear, and the whole world would be changed. If only that were so.

 

Daniel Kahneman, professor of both psychology and public affairs described this as a “focusing illusion.” When we’re thinking about the graduation or the wedding, it is big, tremendous. When we’re in school, we might think that when we graduate, life will be so different. Or we’re in love and imagine that, once the love is celebrated and wrapped in the marriage license, we will feel more secure and loved. But what we find is a new moment, another day, another call for action. We forget how we adapt to situations, to living with a spouse or a new job or whatever it is we do after a big event.

 

We forget where feelings come from. We think the achievement itself creates the thrill of success. We think the person we love creates the love. We forget that to feel loved one must love. To be touched, one must touch. Jack Kornfield wrote a book called After the Ecstasy, The Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path. We can even view enlightenment, whatever that is, in the same way. “Once I get enlightened, all will be different.” Or “If only I’d get enlightened…” If only this or that.

 

All we ever have is moments, and moments are too slippery to ever own. They are less a thing and more what or who we are. Hopefully, most will be spent with more clarity than confusion, more compassion than anger, more love than greed. We do the best we can in the moment to learn from whatever occurs, and then let it go. To perceive and honor what is there for us without blinding ourselves with self-judgments or turning a passing moment into a permanent monument to a self. Monuments don’t feel and what isn’t perceived can’t be acted upon….

 

*To read the whole piece, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

#Me-Too Can Awaken Us to the Humanity of Others

We need a better education, in this country, in how to face our own inner reality, to know ourselves with honesty, and to know the role other people and our world play in knowing ourselves.  For example, we might grow up thinking our happiness lies primarily with what we own or how much money we have, so we are never satisfied with what we have. Or we think true power results from control over others, so we never feel in control of ourselves. We look externally to satisfy what requires us to look internally.

 

I hope I’m not simply projecting, but I think #Me-Too is now being taken by more men I know not as an attack on them, but as a way of waking us up to the reality of the women we relate to. By awakening to the reality of others, we wake to the reality of ourselves. As long as we men see women primarily in terms of our own needs and projections, we will always be dissatisfied with our relationships with women. As long as we try to feel strong, or create a secure, satisfying relationship by controlling our partner, whomever she or he is, we will never feel strong, secure or satisfied.

 

As long as we think of those we love, instead of our own inner emotional nature, is the source of our love and excitement, we will always feel somewhat controlled by the other, and powerless. And some kind of dissatisfaction, even resentment or anger, will develop and undermine our loving….

 

We might think that by destroying the power of others we increase our own power. But by doing so we develop an addiction. We think we are so weak that we can only feel powerful when others are powerless. We grow dependent on weakness. So we need stronger and stronger hits of the drug of weakness and delusion. We grow more and more incapable of looking at the world directly or clearly….

 

To read the whole post, go to The Good Men Project.