Fate and junk
There is a strategy that my wife and I have learned from our years in recovery. “Own your side of the street”, it means taking responsibility for my part in something and not blaming her for how I feel. It also means not letting myself get into the trap of making her responsible for how I feel when I’m upset. In other words: “I’m upset because you did this and it’s your fault I feel this way.” That’s victim language and super unhealthy.
There’s also another trick that I’m fond of which the Ideological Turing test. The idea is to prove the opposite side of your own argument. If nothing else I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for discovering empathy. And let’s face it, sometimes arriving at empathy is a journey. A quick example would be empathizing with Trump and the enormous challenge he must be facing right now. I know I can relate to being overwhelmed and maybe even a little scared.
Not making people responsible for how I feel, and identifying when I’m attaching my ego to an idea are two very important tools that I’ve been using lately. I’m starting to see the world from a different perspective and realizing that I very well may have been inadvertently brainwashed. I don’t think there’s any grand conspiracy here, there’s no master wizard person in charge of some overarching grand scheme or anything like that. I think this is the result of genuinely good people acting in what they feel is the best interest of other people.
There was a moment in my life when I was presented with a choice. Fate had handed me an opportunity in the form of a very nice person dropping two beautiful joints in my hand. I had not asked for these, but for some reason fate had decided that I should be presented with this opportunity. That’s how fate works, it’s all just opportunities. I sat there with fate in my hand and made the choice to pass the joints off to someone else. In return I received a little green bracelet.
The role of fate wasn’t to make me smoke or ruin my life, those are outcomes from choices that I make. The role of fate is simply to present the opportunity for us to make the choice. My choice came from my own place of curiosity and personal growth. I ran the numbers, asked myself what would happen if I did this. I didn’t just assume, I really looked at all the options. This wasn’t easy, looking at your demons never is, but it was worth the effort. My future becomes my past, and that was enough for me. Demons are never gone, you just learn to live above them.
I was recently in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the turkey day rituals. There were many dinners, lunches and even a few breakfasts with family and friends. One dinner in particular left me with an idea, something that I’ve been using in my own meditation and rituals of self-reflection.
The conversation was around the Hamilton situation. My dinner guests were avid fans of the theater. They’ve have traveled the world and enjoyed just about every type of show and play you could imagine. They were somewhat siding with Trump on his assertion that the stage shouldn’t involve politics. They dislike the language of “safe space” because of many reasons, most of which I happen to agree with; nothing grows in a safe space, life happens at the edge of chaos, not a warm, soft bed.
I was a little taken aback by this statement because I had always thought that the art of all kinds should involve a reflection of our culture. In fact, isn’t the Hamilton play an interpretation of the culture from a time long ago? ( Perhaps even in a galaxy far, far away? ;) )
I asked my dinner guests what was their favorite play. Les Miserable was the answer. I’m sure we could probably pick that one apart if we looked hard enough.
But here’s where it got really interesting for me. They talked about they play they disliked the most. It turns out it was the play “Rent.” Apparently they had front row seats, but no idea what the play was. They ended up walking out of the play about half way through.
They walked out because, and I quote “of all the gay stuff.” They had a reaction to “that gay stuff” being thrown in their face. Now, granted, this was many, many years ago when “that gay stuff” wasn’t as prevalent as it is now.
At first I was shocked about this because, as a lefty, I think I’m supposed to be shocked by this. This is supposed to cause rantings of “how could you say that?!? They’re people too!! You homophobic blah blah.” And so on.
But instead of taking my feelings of injustice or whatever out on them, I reflected on what they would have been feeling about that. I asked myself “what could I learn from this.” I used this as an opportunity that fate had provided to look at my own reactions to this situation and act with curiosity. Where there demons here that I should be looking at? Am I making someone else responsible for how I feel? Why would I care if they don’t like gay stuff? Their feelings on the subject have nothing to do with me, why would I even bother reacting to this?
Here’s what I learned…
These fine folks were describing an event in which they felt uncomfortable with what they were seeing in front of them. Their eyes were being assaulted with a thing they didn’t want to see.
I ( or even perhaps you ) might look at that and wonder how unfair it is that they felt these feelings. Perhaps you feel like this is a personal affront to you because you’re gay.
But feelings aren’t facts. These people did something reasonable. They simply walked out of the theater. That seems reasonable to me.
But then I started asking myself if there were any situations in my life in which I’ve “walked out of the theater” because of something that made me feel uncomfortable. Is it acceptable for me, based on my sense of moral center, to walk out on a situation because I feel ichy?
What about when someone says something that I don’t agree with? Do I sit in my seat and look for the lesson to be learned, or do I lash out with links and pontifications about how everyone is wrong?
Do I try to convince the actors on the stage of my life that they’re acting or thinking wrong? Do I walk out of the theater in disgust instead of looking inward?
Do I go so far as to protest the very theater because I’m upset about the result of something happening on the stage?
I love that Trump has won because it has given me a ton of opportunities to challenge the people in my life. Most of them can’t seem to sit in their seats. But then again, neither can I. It’s not an easy thing to do.
This has helped me to understand my own personal demons much better because I’m no longer ignoring them life I have in the past. Based on my facebook feed I’m thinking maybe I’m not the only one doing this. It’s good to know I’m not alone in this struggle with fate.
One day at a time; progress not perfection. ;)