Yesterday I treated several people with a common theme. A common irony exists in most people I meet. First, they underestimate their own abilities. Second, they contrastingly over-commit themselves to helping others. One wonders how these two things can coexist together. How can one underestimate oneself while simultaneously over-committing?
Simple. Most people commit to things in which their hearts are not set. They have no faith or deep-seated need to accomplish these things. In fact, they often agree to accomplish things which they “think,” or “believe” they must do. Or, they try to fulfill someone else’s ideal of what a person “ought to do.” Yet these ideas come from some nonexistent place. I shall explain.
More often than not when a person is young, he or she is subjected to a variety of conflicting advice and guidance. In fact, very little of it merits any value for the listener. Most of it falls into the category of an elder or self-proclaimed elder, trying to convince someone younger, of the elder’s value or nobility. In reality nothing sublime can be found.
Thus we receive two kinds of advice. One seeks to feed the ego of the speaker. It seeks to make the recreate the youth in terms of what the older person wishes he himself was. The rarest type hopes to inform. When we get older, we must remove the first type of indoctrination. It is the hardest to remove.
For we do not even know that this poor guidance has embedded itself in our psyches like viruses or parasites which feed the perpetrators of it. We only discover this information through inference; by watching how the things we claim are dearest to us make us feel. An example helps here.
Imagine that you have sought to teach disabled children your entire career. Yet somehow you are continually sick and horrendously ill. Being a fairly enlightened person you surrender and renounce all other attachments in your life. Your diet is impeccable, fitness plan unimpeachable. No relationships, physical or emotional, impede your commitments to your children.
But sick you remain. Eventually, you age faster than your years only to watch those less self-sacrificing grow more beautiful and happier. How could it be that one as noble as you could suffer so greatly? At first it is a sign of your nobility. You wear your pharmaceutical and medical records with pride. Even you crumble from the onslaught though when you receive a diagnosis of Fibromyalgyia-or bucket of symptoms with no clear cure.
There is no way your healthy diet with incredible immune boosters could reach such depths of illness; one with no real explanation or cause. Finally the universe makes you surrender your flock. The special education cases are divided up into different classes and you are bedridden. While in bed, a matriarchal relative visits you.
Instead of spending time on healing you or your illness with love or concern, she only remarks on the “poor children,” about how she “wishes you would get better so that you could help them.” Something finally cracks and breaks. You scream, “The children, the children? I have surrendered everything I ever wanted to help these ill children, and now instead of 120 ill children, we have 121 counting me!”
You wish no ill will, but it finally dawns upon you that you were not serving what you loved or dreamed of, you were serving someone else’s idea of what you loved or dreamed of. It was true that you loved children and dreamed of serving them, but it was your OWN children that you lived to serve. You always wanted a family. It was this relative who never had your opportunities and was an old widow that encouraged you upon HER path.
That is right, her advice was to be what she dreamed of becoming. In fact, she never served sick or ill children either. It turns out that her son was placed into a home for those who needed assisted living and that this woman always regretted it. Your life was spent fulfilling another’s unfulfilled dreams. Now you are old and have fewer options than you once did.
Yet life is never really over. Options always exist to fulfill your desires in one way or another. You remember this true advice given from a real elder. A grandmother once advised you that life was short, and although there are many ways to serve the world, that the best way is to fulfill your greatest dream. By doing so you show the world what beauty truly is. It is not about stepping over bodies to reach success, but about making something beautiful inside and out.
And beauty is the greatest oblation to humanity, the universe, and God. It inspires and uplifts. Unhappy or ill service only shows people that what you think of as noble leads to pain and untimely death. While loving work illustrates the greatest example of fulfillment one could ask. In simple words, a great friend once advised me “Never stay together for the kids in an untenable and unhappy marriage. If you do, they learn that that is what love is and you perpetuate unhappiness upon them and your progeny.”
You nurse your way back to health on your deep insurance and IRAs. During this time you discover an ability to paint which you combine with all of your teaching certificates. You become an art therapist, helping recover other over-worked and ill veterans from our society. Eventually you meet eligible men with children and still hope to have your own someday. Now your diet and fitness plans truly payoff. Nothing is wasted on your quest.
Not everyone has to wait for such extreme object lessons. You can see it in obesity and inflammation throughout or society. We and our children try forever to be something their not. Some even achieve this illusion only to feel further alienated. What do you do when you reach everything you were taught to aspire to and you are horribly unfulfilled? This usually deepens depression, for which we further medicate, burying the issues even farther down then they already existed.
After reaching the point of successfully unfulfilled, I sought a solution to the internal dilemma without food or drugs. I had been overweight, addicted, and depressed before in my life. I needed no more obsessions. I had already served in deep religious capacity and in the military. Neither gave me my answer, though they did illustrate my capabilities quite well.
What I found was my journey. Find your own. By yourself, or with the help of others such as myself who have tried to cut a swath through the jungle of illusion in this glamorous world.