Get It Together!

Sometimes, I wonder about those people who seem to always have it all together. I mean, there is no possible way. It can’t be true! There must be a lot going on behind the scene and a great façade to cover up any dysfunction. Perhaps this theory is true, for some people. What I think might be even more true is that they don’t have it together nor are they pretending to. They are living their own lives the best they know how. I’m the one projecting onto them my own ideal fantasy of what a perfect life looks like. I forget that there is no such thing and fret that everyone else but me has figured 'it' out. 

I'm not sure that the image in my mind is the ideal that this person should be living or is even thinking about living, but instead the romantic version of a life I think I should be living. Of course, the next realization is that I am not living my ideal life. OMG! This line of thinking leads me back to the crux of it all and an important question for anyone on a conscious path to ask.

How much do I accept my current situation and be grateful for what is and how much do I visualize something new and better and actively strive toward it? It seems that for something to really change we’ve got to get sick and tired of it. That requires that in one way or another we no longer tolerate or accept our current condition and instead act to change it. In effect, force our subtle or not so subtle will to create change.

I often feel stuck at this juncture. It can be uncomfortable to make the necessary changes, but it is equally uncomfortable, perhaps even more so, to remain the same. Instead of doing either I’ll go into an existential crisis about life and why I am here. But this strategy seems to do no good in bringing about the change I seek.

The truth is we all have habits; actions we make and thoughts we think repeatedly. You’ll be happy to know that, I too, have habits. Certain habits that have kept me afraid and hiding for a long time. Habits that have kept me ‘comfortable’ in an uncomfortable kind of way. I have some habits that keep me far too busy to pause and sit with the burning long enough.

Every religion, self-help book, yoga studio and cross fit gym, every coach, teacher and guide is pointing to and trying to sell us the holy grail of how to get our head out of our ass and change. We rack our brains trying to figure out why, even with all this guidance and inspiration, we don’t. And often, we direct our unresolved  anger or insecurity toward those who do. 

My tragic accident left me in a wheel chair or on crutches for the past 6 months and is forcing me to change. I am not sure yet if it’s for better or worse, but change I must. While certain aspects of my life have changed dramatically, the same underlying patterns that limited me before are still here. Perhaps the gift of my current condition is that is has jolted me involuntarily into examining my habit patterns and making friends with the parts of myself that I wish I wasn’t.

I’ve been excavating the soil upon which the little habit sprouts of my youth have grown into full fledge adult Redwood tree habits. Some habits I even praise as such, for they seem tall, brave and enduring yet habits non the less. 

Some of my deepest-rooted patterns truly feel impossible to break down, akin to uprooting a 500 year old Redwood. These pesky habituations have been around so long they serve as the foundation upon which the rest of my life is stacked. The removal of just one little branch threatens the security of the entire thing and the jig is up! Irrational fear tells me that if any one piece is dislodged my whole personality will unravel and my ego identity shattered. Like my teacher, Pema Chodron says, it feels like, “ our cover is blown.” One can see why this might be a good idea albeit an intimidating one.

Buddhism teaches that there is no self and there is no ground, suffering is rooted in perception and suffering is the foundation of true compassion. This is the only view that gives me enough courage to drive my shovel of compassion in deep and keep digging up the roots of bad habits.

Perhaps at some point in life we make friends with our self and we realize that there is nothing left to do but undo. Undo all the habits of distraction that inevitably lead to discomfort. Undo the habits of protection that once kept us safe but have become prison walls around our hearts. Undo the habit of projecting our ideal life onto innocent bystanders. Undo the tightly bond noose of perfection from our necks.

Perhaps one day with practice we stumble into a quiet revelation and undo the pressure that we apply on ourselves and others to once and for all ‘get it together’.

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