Chronicles from an Island – Part II
January 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
I realised this morning that for most of my life up until now I have based my happiness on external circumstances. Isn’t this how happiness is defined for most people in the world? We are born and raised on a treadmill trying to secure an external world that will bring us to joy, fulfilment, pride, money – the essences of what we call success. When things go well, the result is a short-lived elation — until something goes wrong. When we finally succeed, having accomplished it all, there is still an uneasiness that lurks in the background: A nervous laugh, a sense of not deserving, a fear about the future, or maybe a stinginess that holds on to money just a little too tightly. Even when we’ve got it all, we have a hard time trusting that it will last. And then, when something goes wrong (news flash! Eventually, something always goes “wrong”), we’re spiralled back down to disappointment, burn-out or depression.
With this kind of mentality, the world becomes your very own personal bully who has put you on the treadmill running after love, approval, security and safety.
As a friend recently pointed out to me, we live at a time in history where the individual has been hijacked by a deeply-rooted fear and shame. This is the origin of all addictions. You’ll do just about anything not to confront those inner demons of unworthiness and fear of failure. People will lie, cheat, and sell their integrity to not to have to feel, grieve, or heal from the belief that we are not good enough. This is addiction and a compulsive disorder. You don’t need cigarettes, coffee (my personal favourite), or heroine to live out an addiction. Just jump on the treadmill and try to make your world perfect all the time. “You lose, but only always,” says one of my favourite teachers, Byron Katie.
The human ego oscillates between two polarities: “I’m not good enough,” and “I am entitled.” These two sides of the same illusion can be blamed for why the world is in the state that we find it in today. I am convinced that environmental desecration is but an outward manifestation of the modern human predicament. There is a dysfunctional belief that we can only be worthy, whole, safe and contented when our outer world has satisfied all of our desires — or worse yet, someone else’s desires! Eckhart Tolle calls this “madness.”
Did you even stop to think about what you actually want? What if there were another paradigm?
These days, living in my little cabin, I notice how hard nature can be. It’s cold and it’s dirty. There are insects around, some I’ve never seen before, and most I’d never care to meet again. There is wind and snow, pipes that freeze, a fire that needs to be constantly tended too. I wake up in the morning cold and miserable. And yet, as hard as it is, nature doesn’t tell you that you have to be perfect. Nature celebrates a truly incomprehensible diversity. Have you ever noticed that nature actually celebrates incompetence? Often times we even call it “beautiful.”
Take a look at this truly useless piece of art I stumbled upon at the beach:
Did you notice that you’ve never once been judged by nature? That you have always been perfect and immeasurable in its eyes? “No less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here,” says the poem Desiderata.