Tag Archives: Tao

I Don’t Act My Age: A pep talk

Biologically, I am 29, and I do not act like it! I get paid to play like a 2-year-old and I party like a very-active grandma. Part of my journey towards self-love is accepting that I am unconventional and should not expect to find a conventional love. But first let me learn to fall in love with myself. In being true to myself, living according to my own inner authority, I will be present and authentic so that I can do just that.

I learned a lot about love and pain at a very young age, and I felt jaded and different. At first, I could only believe that I had grown up too fast, always acting too mature for my own good. With this loss of innocence, I found it difficult to connect to my peers, so I stopped trying. I was a weird kid, and I had found my weird friends, but then my friendship needs changed. We had grown together possibly because we were different than everyone else, we were the eccentrics.

That may sound vague, or even cryptic, so let me elaborate…my peer group felt like it was morphing into a multi-headed blob, instead of being a happy group of individuals. The thing we had in common, our weirdness, came to define us and became heightened. We became stereotypes and we stereotyped ourselves. But there was so much more of me that was not being acknowledged in any way.

So I choose to go off in search of a different kind of connection. I followed the beat of my own drum, and I began to base my friendships on true interests or values we had in common. This journey has been hard from the beginning. My parents had a new baby at home, so without friends, I had plenty of alone time. In some ways this was a huge boost of self-love, but I didn’t see it that way.

Soon, I got sucked up into a friendship that still persists today, with my cousin, older by eleven years, but his mind worked just like mine. An odd friendship for a 15-year-old, but our conversations were more educational than anything I learned in school. We truly had a connection; it was palpable. Even I, young as I was, knew this was the kind of friendship people want to have, so even while people (mainly our family) questioned our “motives” I stayed dedicated.

Ever since, I let my friendships happen, no matter who they are with. I can make friends with a four-year-old stranger at a wedding, or a 60-year-old stranger. I have never lost my ability to play and enjoy life, which some could perceive as flirting with the world! I own my interests, and they are by no means “cool.” I love picture puzzles, cribbage, intellectual discussions (where I seem to find many people who have retired awhile ago for some reason), but I am having a ball!

I may not meet a cute age-appropriate co-worker at work (since I am a nanny), nor may I find love discussing the Tao Te Ching with people twice my age (but maybe I will), but it doesn’t matter. But, I am sure to find friends, as I play with toy trains and poetically recite Lao Tzu…and I will nurture my love for my Self, and my own personal journey.

For Love of the Effort?

The behavioral economics lessons from my online course this week centered on motivation. This lecture mainly looked at motivation in the workplace, asking what, besides money, induces people to work, because the reward of money is not enough for an employee. The conclusion was drawn that people become more attached to things, tasks, ideas into which they put some effort into creating. Wow! I, being metaphorically inclined, immediately saw a connection to feeling invested in relationships.

Dan Ariely, my professor, describes this phenomenon of increasing fondness and attachment for an object through being involved in the effort of creation as “the IKEA Effect.” He has shown that people tend to value and esteem things they made even when the process is perceived as negative or the created product is of poor workmanship. Through effort, value and meaning increase.

This idea of effort leading to attachment does ring true to me on many levels. I felt like I put a lot into my relationship, so when we broke up I felt all sort of pain. I thought things like: “What a waste of time!” “I gave him so much and look what he does!” So much of breaking up was about detaching myself from the relationship, letting go of ideas, thoughts and attachments of all kinds. I had been willing to work, to put in effort and so I was the one who was most attached…I was willing to love that imperfect man and nourish our imperfect relationship because I was invested in a relationship I was helping to create.

Did I put too much effort into my relationship, leaving not enough for my partner? Am I too independent and self-motivated that no one perceives how to put effort into me? I ask these questions rhetorically, knowing they are not exactly the right questions…but intriguing to consider if that is possible.

When Ariely casually made a glib comment that tasks should “play hard to get” to keep us motivated to work on them, I had a shocking realization. I finally had a clear explanation of that little relationship game of playing hard to get which I have often refused to do! When someone “plays” hard to get, the other has to extend more effort to win a date or a kiss! Hence, the love of the chase!

Now, as I wrote this, I wanted to put a woman and a man in those roles respectively because this is how it has been described to me…men love the chase, so women have to play hard to get. But here are two questions; (1) If men are motivated by the effort of the chase, what is the great motivating effort of the women? and (2) how does this play out in homosexual relationships? During my recent break-up, my mother, in an attempt to help me, asked if I had ever considered if I were a lesbian. And (alas?) I am not. Perhaps if I were, I could be the chaser, and it would not be to my detriment. This is not about men and women, but it is about masculine and feminine.

So let me throw a wrench in the equation. This way of looking at things conflicts with some of my newly-tapped-into philosophical wisdom. From reading the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, various Buddhist texts, and the material from the School of Practical Philosophy, I am learning how attachment leads to suffering! As I just mentioned, breaking up was painful, and probably because of my attachment. 

So, now my challenge, my journey seems to be to learn to love while remaining detached; to be attached only after becoming conscious that I am already detached; to be yin and yang, feminine and masculine, both the receptive and the pursuing!

Playing hard to get intentionally to tease and entice a man seems incredibly manipulative. This is not the way for me. I do not believe all men require the chase, nor do I believe women must act demure in order to find love. However, I am a go-getter in many ways, tending to take charge and lead. My dad taught me to just go ahead and do something when you see it needs doing! In this modern world, women are losing touch with their feminine qualities and men are being emasculated as we all try to balance these two elements. It would be a game, a trick to simply act demure, whereas being demure could be honest if we have reclaimed the feminine principle truly. Setting out to accomplish a goal, even bagging a man with “feminine” wiles, is still, at it’s heart, accomplished with masculine energy. As long as I am trying to get something from a man, I will be competing with his masculine energy and negating my own feminine side. How do I remember my femininity? What form can effort take that draws on this more gentle, receptive energy? There is more to The Feminine than I realize, than we realize- so, let us all open up to how to reclaim the yin in this yanged-up world. Cheers!

Doing vs. Being…vs. Analyzing?

Recently, I have been reading the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. A theme of integrating seeming opposites pervades: yin and yang, emptiness with the material…similar dichotomies come to mind, such as desire and action, and of course,  being and doing.

As I meditated this morning, I had many thoughts arise which I remember even though I was actively letting go of them per my practice. These thoughts concerned my past attempts to meditate and how I seem to get it now. It seems to me that I was not ready for meditation when I tried it in high school; there was no desire or need for it and it upset an established way I operated which I did not want to disrupt.

My Mind has dominated me for a while. I have striven to be more knowledgeable, more educated, more rational, even more open-minded…and it has gone too far. My mind had usurped my self-control. I had forgotten how to just be, and was beginning to forget how to do (making decisions was hard now)…but what I was good at was analyzing.

I was self-analyzing, analyzing other people, analyzing any and all problems, analyzing for fun, analyzing when I was bored…basically, I was analyzing myself away. I lost touch with my inner self, the calm, still, observing self.

My Mind had gotten too large so that there was no room for my Body’s needs, my Heart’s needs…and no ability to see all of these as parts of myself. Without being able to see all of myself, I was not able to begin my work to let go of needs and connect to the inner peace I now feel I have. Mind was not kept in check and balance, so I wasn’t in balance…and so now my practice is very important to me. It is hardest for my Mind to grasp what We are doing with our practice, and it fights against the new parameters I had to create.

My journey is good…my struggle is good. I now feel I can be, do and sometimes analyze with proper attention and control. That is pretty amazing!

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