Who You Are, Where you Are
As I described my shitty week to my colleague it was clear this was a week that I didn’t care to repeat. The circumstances weren’t in line with my expectations or desires. Then he said, “Well this is the week you really wanted.” He was pointing to some renegade part of me that uncontrollably undermines my will. My eyes turned around in my head looking back into myself for answers, as if the trickster, an unwanted me, some unconscious trespasser had cut the lights off in my week without me noticing. And that I was to be life’s constant project to improve to bring better responses and reactions forth.
After exploring where he was going with his observation, the underlying assumption was that I had duped myself by landing in a reality that I de facto had created despite having other intentions. This is what I call reckless responsibility, a term I use in human potential that describes a blame-game with yourself for everything that happens to you, as if you had control over it and couldn’t shift what played out. Any time circumstances get away from you reckless responsibility calls you back inside, back into further introspection to see what went wrong. To me it’s a lot of wasteful energy looking at the wrong things. Positive thinking, or better said, “positive lying” then becomes the fix to censuring negative thoughts. This way the positive thinker can have more control over his experiences going favorably, and attempt to live life in a more copacetic way.
Why can’t we have bad days as well as good days? Try positive thinking when you’re raising a family or building a career. It’s moody, unsatisfying a lot of the time, and full of tough sacrifices. Yet we attempt to undo our issues when bad days surface to shape ourselves. In the creative process, both kinds of days are normal, they aren’t attached to one’s hijacked or negative self.
Life is not all the mirror that we are, it is life itself, as it is. The universe is a wildcard rather than some interconnected secret messaging system that hints at what is wrong with you. When we have a concept of ourselves that something is wrong with us, we become inclined to spot it in everything that is going on. Then we attempt to have a different conversation with life; bring forth a better response. Our behavior is then composed of our reactions to life. Rather than living in the now, we attempt to fix ourselves as a means to fix what is wrong with life. Then a set of ideals set in motion that we attempt to live into in order to offset what negative beliefs we hold of ourselves. We struggle to polish the mirror into attempt to find ourselves.
Despite these attempts we all have a perturbing Freddy Kruger voice inside of us from the past. The more we attempt to exorcise, evict, or evade him, he builds his strength from our aversion. But when we turn toward him with investigation, understanding, acceptance, and curiosity, he cannot remain living in us. Just as the Buddha become enlightened, he made these psychological forces in side of him welcomed room-mates next to his better parts. Rather than address them, he learned to redirect his attention to something more dominant, and eventually outgrew these forces within him.
I’m not a Buddhist, but I like Siddhartha’s life story because it reveals a common thread we all have in each of us: We all have parts of us that we don’t like. We are all bozos on the same bus in this aspect. And rather than attempt to fix ourselves, we can get to know our stuff like an old friend. And by doing this, we can better deactivate its power over ability to stay in the present moment just as it is. As the saying goes, “if you give life to your shit, you will bring it to life.”
This is not suggesting that we lie to ourselves about every moment being wanted. Indeed it may be what the future needs, and is waiting for us in whatever wildcard form the universe is laying down as an unsolvable mystery. We must learn to live with the unsolvable mystery. We must disengage from our concepts of reality and confront life on its terms, not ours, independent of our identity.
Indeed it is helpful to know your likes and dislikes…we like what we like and don’t like what we don’t like and that is that, no further inner work needed. We are competent and incompetent in many things. What we have, do, or think isn’t who we are. We are separate from these. What we create is what we create, we are not our creations, just as a mother is the not the baby she’s focused on creating.
Today, self-investigation has gone overboard as the personal growth fetish continues. And as it has gone haywire we’ve become lousier creators than ever before, due to being at issue excessively with who we are or are not. We attempt “be” somebody of significance rather than creating what matters to us. Our values systems then get neglected to the stupid ambition of self-realization, and the pursuit of consuming things we don’t need.
We then relate with life from who we are rather than what is actually going on. And when our identity is married to what is going on, we cannot use failure as assets to learn toward bringing what we seek to create into the world. We marry ourselves to what we do, or what we have, or what others think, instead of telling ourselves the truth. Indeed we may have a particular worldview, self-concept, belief system, all the above, yet none it is relevant to the creative process; leave it outside the door. You can still have these and yet learn how to create subject matter in your life that you deeply desire.
If you want to work on yourself, make it a hobby, but focus on creating what matters to you and leave yourself alone. You don’t need to do all that hard work on yourself that you think will pay off. Maybe someone didn’t reveal to you the systemic limitations of self-improvement and you’re now “getting it.” This is because without a fundamental change in the underlying structure of your motivation, change will be ambushed no matter how much personal development you do. The structure always wins, just as the whole is always more influential than the parts in any human system.
Start by moving from a reaction/response orientation to life to a creative one. Choose to become the predominant creative force in your life. Then make primary choices about what you seek to create, and don’t waver from this with practical or realistic thinking. Stay true to what DOES matter to you, not what SHOULD. Don’t edit reality, be frank about it, reality is an acquired taste. If you don’t have a starting point, how do you know how to get to where you’re going?
This is a very personal matter when you’re considering what actually does matter, and does not. You must choose to be true yourself about what you have and don’t have, and where you are compared to where you want to be, good, bad, and ugly. By moving from who you are to where you are, you’ll become more resourceful in adjusting strategic actions on behalf of creating your goal. If something in you, a habit, skill, or discipline is required on behalf of your desired creation, then take action, otherwise leave who you are alone.
I suggest this because within the structural nature of the creative process as an overriding pattern that has advancing tendencies instead of oscillating ones. The contrast between recognizing what you have vs. what you want generates a power tension system that seeks resolution. And if this tension (gap) is held via your honesty for where you are, and love for what you want, it’ll come to your aid with unforeseen forces. Often times strange coincidences and mystical experiences occur when this dynamic is in force.
When you attempt to change your beliefs, which is often propagandized in the human potential community, you attempt to talk yourself out of something. Who but a person that would impose an affirmation that they’re worthy be not worthy? Who but a person that needs to act as if they are something they aren’t (rich, wise, loving, caring, etc) be the opposite? When we attempt to be dishonest with ourselves, our trickster, the sub-conscious mind loses respect for us. All the mind wants is good instructions—it needs to know where to go and where it is currently, to become resourceful in ways beyond what it knows today.
Remember that “Creating” is the intentional process of bringing something into existence that didn’t before. It begins with nothing. Don’t change, create! Don’t begin with what is wrong with you—all you’ll do is be inclined to point at yourself when things go wrong. And in the creative process when things go wrong, you must learn, gather new information, make adjustments, and posture new experiments until you’re at capacity.
The key is remembering that the power doesn’t reside in you, it is in your creations that are becoming. For the mother, the power she draws forth to raise the baby is in the baby, not her. Your motivation within isn’t manufactured, it is generative love for what’s ahead. And faith (openness) to what is. For the artist, the power is in the painting, not himself. When this shift to IT, not YOU occurs, you begin to take the world in as it is, confront it just as it is, and learn from it just as it is.
Creators don’t complain. They do their best from the hand they are given. The universe is a wildcard. Treat it as such, and not a sign of your shortcomings when it doesn’t go your way. When circumstances change, creators don’t. Reality is a reference point to signpost where adjustments are needed. Creators are not in the reaction business, they’re in the creating business. They need a deeper understanding of the world around them, moving from within and beyond themselves from the micro into the macro.
Creators give themselves to their creative process—by learning to see within and without of the influence of their concepts and intentions. And they take next steps or action that is anchored toward and obedient to their intentions, not in reaction to their problems. This is not an attempt to develop character, rather it is matching secondary choices (actions) to primary choices (goals). Resistance, constraints and obstacle are obvious parts to witness, observe, and circumvent, all within the overall structure of the creative. Problems come and go, they aren’t solvable anyway, they evaporate naturally by having bigger urges to bring something that matters into the world.