For a bunch of years, I had more responsibilities than I wanted.
My kids were younger, and my job was difficult. It was hard to find a place of solace and rest. I had a pretty wind range of negative emotions related to this: anxiety, resentment, confusion.
I felt like I never was off-duty. I never had a break. There were so many things which wanted to split my attention and time. When I was at home, work was on my brain. When I was at work, I was worried about things at home.
I don’t experience this as much as I used to. In fact, I am learning something about myself, back then. I am learning that I kind-of loved to hate it.
As much as I wanted a break, as much as I wanted for things to be easier, I was also fed by all this. It made me feel important, this idea that nobody but me could handle things. There is no denying the negatives about this all. But also, there was validation, and inflation of my ego.
One of the reasons that I am aware of all this, these days, is that I am learning to embrace multi-faceted reality. I can hold the idea that I loved it, and I hated it. I can accept the possibility that it was both good for my self esteem, and bad for my self esteem. I can agnowledge that I am so thankful that the season of my life is over, whole also affirming that I really miss it.
There is something else, though. Another reason I have to reflect on all this:
There is a sort-of analogy when I sit down to meditate. Especially for those first few minutes.
My mind is become brilliant at fabricating all these incredibly “important” things that must be done right now. It can be so persuasive, explaining why I can get back to meditating later, but really it would be so very efficient, convenient, wise, kind, loving, responsible if I started the laundry, did the dishes, sent that email, wrote that blog post, prepared that lesson plan, checked in with that family member… etc, etc, etc.
It is hard to resist this voice. But it is getting easier.
I am learning that I love to hate many of these responsibilities. I have this inflated sense of importance I get from deluding myself into thinking that all these things I do are so very important that they must be completed right now, at this very moment.
The possibility that the world might continue to spin, even if I am not working at this thing, or that thing… That’s a pretty scary prospect. Recognizing that the world will be ok if I stop for a while is an act of humiliation, in a way. It requires me admitting that I am not the center of the known universe.
More than this, resisting the urge to act right in this moment, making the conscious decision to simply accept what is, to be in the moment with out interfering with the universe… it actually calls into question the very idea that I should be acting in the universe at all.
If the world is going to be ok for this half hour while I meditate… Doesn’t that suggest that it actually will be ok for the next half hour, too? All these things I have been doing, that I said were so important… Are they actually all that important, after all?
This is not a battle cry for apathy. I am not saying that the things I might do are not with out value. For me, the learning curve is in understanding that I don’t have to formulate an opinions, I don’t have to take decisive action over every single thing. I am learning that my desire to take action, my desire to form and express my take on every single situation I encounter: these are all forms of ego, attempts at asserting that I am somehow extra-important.
Perhaps, if you meditate today, you will put a little extra attention into holding both sides of a tension that it might be tempting to resolve. Maybe, also, you could be aware of the ways that your brain will try and sabotage the time you are setting aside to sit.