One of the primary ways in which I get the foul miasma of self-rejection to descend upon me is by imagining that there are things in this world I need to resist or avoid.
I look out onto the horizon of existence and I see possibilities I don’t like: sickness, failure, poverty, grief, death, the negative judgment of other people (far worse than death, according to certain parts of my psyche).
And then I think – “must resist! must defend! must refuse!”
This works me up into a contrary state. A state of internal resistance to life. In which I take myself Way Too Seriously. In which I’m prone to reject myself for the very reason that I’m not Invincible Enough. (Screw good enough, I want to be Invincible Enough!) Like all of us, I’m vulnerable.
The thing about the contrary state that I use to reject my vulnerable mortality is that it’s rigid. It feels brittle, it feels about-to-be-broken by every sling and arrow of outrageous fortune. When I’m in it I feel like a pasteboard dart target that gets punctured through her very core every time life throws something.
Today, I’m interested in easing out of contrariness. I’m doing this by deciding to give no internal resistance to the possibilities of life that I don’t like. Why? Because that internal resistance is suffering – and I’ve accepted out (at least intellectually) that suffering is not a requirement.
Suffering, like coffee, isn’t a necessity of life. It’s just something I’m addicted to because I imagine it benefits me. It seems to benefit me in that it
- Keeps me doing the thing that almost everyone else seems to agree is the thing to do – i.e., suffer – and therefore, gives me a weird sense of closeness with the rest of humanity. Just like smoking with a bunch of smokers after a meeting seems to give me a sense of closeness with the smokers.
- Promises that it will protect me somehow from the things I fear. Like, if only I resist this hard enough and make a fuss about it, then it won’t happen.
- Gives me a sense of importance. Like, wow, see how much I suffer? I must be really important, with lots of important things to suffer about!
At times, these benefits seem highly worthwhile. But then they come with side-effects. Side-effects like seeing the world as a rotten place and being miserable and being unable to do anything creative or fun because I’m paralyzed in rigidity.
Today, I’m interested in being Lady Bountiful instead of a pasteboard dart target. Lady Bountiful is my wiser, fuller version of myself. I saw her once on an Edwardian Christmas card. She has rosy cheeks and carries huge armfuls of cheery presents into an orphanage. She creates bounty and joy in the dark places instead of cowering away from those dark places. She rocks.
So what are you resisting today? And what would it feel like to drop that resistance and just be in your life with all its coal soot and undarned stockings?