And you? I was born for?

Mindful

Every day

I see or hear

something

that more or less

kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle

in the haystack

of light.

It was what I was born for –

to look, to listen,

to lose myself

inside this soft world –

to instruct myself

over and over

in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant –

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help

but grow wise

with such teachings

as these –

the untrimmable light

of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

Mary Oliver

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happiness getting confused with the pleasure of meanness

Zimbabwe's 'funny money': old and new currency
Image by Sokwanele – Zimbabwe via Flickr

I’ve just read this on  a university chat board:

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Sadly, our first impulse is to try to answer the question.

Then we do a double take.  Are we trying to sell happiness?  Aren’t happiness and money two different currencies?

Then we get the real meaning.  What would you do that would make your friends jealous?

Happiness is not consistent with raw competition.

Happiness is consistent with good ‘sportsmanship’ and fair play, yes.  We can  be competitive when competitiveness is kept within the bounds of pleasure and fun.  As soon as winning becomes so important that we care neither about how we behave nor how our actions impact others, as soon as competition becomes excluding, then happiness is inconsistent with the project.

When happiness means oneupmanship that is not happiness.  It is just the pleasure – the pleasure of meanness.

When we win we should be deeply grateful to the losers

This one always baffled my students.  When we win, we should be grateful to the losers, for without their willingness to engage in a race with us, we could not win.  The three cheers for the losing team is not a ritual.   When the three cheers  is not longer more important than the game itself, then maybe we should stop playing the game.

People won’t play when the refereeing is bad

When a game gets too rough, in it or in the consequences after the finish, people stop playing.  They simply won’t come back.

We can bribe some greedy players to take part, true.  The world is a big place and if we have enough money, we can always find enough people who are unscrupulous, unsightful, greedy or masochistic.

Sometimes we are dazzled by their participation to think that something is acceptable. After all, why not take the money and worry about the morality later?

Go on, then.  Do it.  But when you come back to play with us, remember that we will not necessarily be impressed by your spoils.  We won’t give you a headstart in our game when you return ~ because headstarts are not what it is about. Fitting in is what it is about.  Taking part is what it is about.  Playing a game that everyone enjoys is what it is about.

If you don’t fit in now

If you don’t fit in now, you won’t fit in later just because you ran away to prove you could do something.

You have three choices:

  • Stay and make your way with us by fitting in.
  • Leave and find a group where you fit in and you feel you can be loyal and they to you.
  • Leave and take part in a race where winning and losing is what it is about ~ but enjoy the race for its own sake.  No one else will be impressed.  They aren’t impressed that you won it. They want to win to lord it over you. Get it?  So if you race, just enjoy it.

Race for the sake of it, not for the sake of money or happiness

So race because you want to.  Don’t race to get rich or to be happy or to impress anyone.

And if you enjoy the race so much, do it here!  Now!  If you just like racing and you don’t want to hurt anyone, they will enjoy your enjoyment and you will fit in.

And if someone insists on racing .  .  .

But if someone is racing against you and hurting you, if you cannot protect yourself, if your really, really cannot, then maybe it is best to leave and find a place where you can be yourself.

Leave to do what you must do but not because of them. Leave them to their misery and meanness

Happiness is just not competitive

Really it is not.  It is about finding a group where you are loyal to them and them to you.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mindfully in the recession

Exploration as holiday

Two days before Christmas, all the younger generation in our family are away, exploring new parts of the world, as we often do in early adulthood.  The “grand tour”, or what Kiwis call “OE”, is a venerated tradition to see the world and to cope with unfamiliarity and surprise.  Some people travel “to find themselves”.  Others are drawn by challenge & adventure.

Exploration as necessity

Real challenges, though, when there is no safety net, and lasting, damaging failure is possible, are altogether different.  We are often paralysed by fear, and we come to know too well the phrase ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.  This really means, there is everything to fear, so much so that we cannot afford to indulge emotions that distract us from dealing with threat.

Am I suggesting that we “get hard”, or be Polyanna, and smile?

Julian Carron, a professor of theology at the University of Milan suggests we are all beggars and that to live our lives purposefully, in good times and bad, we must be conscious of our needs, aware of reality, and aware of our needs in our reality, whatever it is.

“The beggar has only one option: asking.”

“So the beggar is not the one who is most naive, but who is most realistic.  And, consequently, as we begin to defeat the confusion that surrounds and penetrates us, nothing can hinder us from become aware of ourselves in the the present moment.”

Like monsters in the dark, what is the unspoken need that panics you to name?

Is there not comfort in saying  “I ask for  .  .  .”?

Does not compassion for yourself awake in you compassion for others, whoever they are, and whatever their circumstances?

UPDATE:  The message that is delivered again and again by poets, philosophers and priests is that we must be able to talk to ourselves about our vulnerabilities; and it is only when we do that we can calm down pay attention.  When we refuse to acknowledge our predicaments, we become very anxious and cannot think straight.  Oddly, when we have not choice but to confront the threats against us, we often calm done and start to deal with them.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

“Go get your things. Dreams mean work”

I discovered Paulo Coelho this year. I am amazed I spent this long on this earth without finding his books.

His stories have mystical settings. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is about a woman and her childhood sweetheart who meet up again in their twenties to make a hard decision: should they get together or should he follow his vocation into a Catholic seminary and a life as charismatic and healer?

All Coelho’s books (I think) have a happy ending, but not a silly ending.   After many trials, the protagonists resolve to take the high road: living in solidarity with this world. These may be mystical stories, but they are neither fantasies nor escapist.

And the trials faced by the characters are never gratuitous. Each in itself offers a perspective on relating to the world and, I think, the tension between commitment and uncertainty.

They are a remarkably “open” read too. He has a light style that draws you into the story. And then releases you from time to time to ponder what he or one of his characters has just said.

Wikipedia describes the book as “a week in the life of someone ordinary to whom something extraordinary happens”. Read it at the end of a long week to ponder extraordinary people who live ordinary lives.