The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Saturday, March 30, 2013
Personal Reflections ...

At times I wonder, what might be a person’s biggest disappointment with their life, looking back from old age? (Which I’m rapidly entering.) Perhaps for some, it is that they weren’t more “saintly”. I.e., that they didn’t act upon something deep within their sub-conscious, that called them to less concern with self and more concern for others. Perhaps that they did not or would not have been the hero, the person who tried to tackle a crazed gunman in a school, theater or temple, or someone who would jump onto the subway tracks as a train approached to rescue a dazed person who stumbled out onto the path of the train. That they would have listened to the voice of reason in their heads and not taken a severe and yet passionate chance with their own life.

I don’t know if we all have such regrets (or if you are one of the few who actually did do such a thing — and lived to ponder it in your old age). But I sometimes do. Sometimes it seems comforting to take an eastern viewpoint and attribute my failing nature to “karma”. In some past life, or in some sub-conscious conveyance of “vibes” over the course of my life from others about me, I just didn’t accumulate enough good karma to appreciate the preciousness of being. I didn’t get over the existential numbness that many people complain of (while paying $100 per hour to a professional therapist to listen to such complaining). If there is such a karmic process, then it wasn’t all my fault. We are all part of a network with wide-ranging ties between the multitudes, spanning the past and present.

It would be nice to think that at least some little things can be done. It’s too late to jump down onto those subway tracks. Or even if such a chance did occur, I know that I still wouldn’t do it. But I could at least ponder why I’m feeling bad about it all. I can at least try to appreciate the “intensity of being” a little more. I can try to contribute “good vibes” such that “in a future life”, or for future generations living in the wake that I left behind (tiny though my waves may have been), they might feel a bit more intensity, they might find more inspiration and bravery to become more “saintly” in their own lives.

Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and return to western thought. We are 100% responsible for what we do and don’t do, for what we decide about our lives. It’s a cop-out to blame karma or bad vibes from the past and present. If one wants to be a saint, then pay the price. If you decided that it wasn’t worth the price, then get on without sainthood.

There is no doubt much truth and value from such a “get real” perspective. And yet . . . we aren’t perfect, we are all complex and conflicted, we really do have dark sides and yet have some real light within. If we aren’t up to running into a burning building to save a child or jumping into an icy river to pull out a drowning senior citizen, maybe we can at least start with some small steps of goodness. Just because we’re not saints doesn’t mean that we should turn away completely from “the call”. Maybe just the act of feeling bad about our imperfections, just the act of being honest about them and not ignoring them or believing we can explain them away, maintains our ability to appreciate and share the notion that life is precious and irreplaceable.

We need to perceive how broken and imperfect we are, we need to fully comprehend it. Well, I do, anyway. And then, accepting our crippled and incomplete souls, get on with creating whatever little bits of positive energy that we can, while trying to push ourselves just a bit further. It’s all that I can think to do to keep my own soul from dying.

Thanks for putting up with my reflective mood tonight. Next time on this blog, it will be back to my usual ersatz, some-but-not-all-things-considered punditry!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 6:53 pm      

  1. Jim, I have a couple of tho’ts on this “heroes” blog: First: I think you underestimate yourself. My tho’t on heroes is that they are people who try their best to live good lives. That in itself is difficult enough and should be acknowledged. Unfortunately, in our society such a “simple” thing is not acknowledged in any way, shape, or form.

    Secondly, I am reminded of something I learned back in the 1950s. I was part of a religious group at the time, and we were meditating on humility. That meditation changed my life when I came to see that just “plain living” well can be humble yet heroic. The meditation defined humility as acknowledging the truth about oneself –- i.e., acknowledging the not-so-good things about oneself but *also* acknowledging the *good* things about oneself.

    The thing is that for the most part in our society often people are all too often willing to acknowledge what is good about themselves, but they do it in what might be considered a “less than humble” way, bragging about it and looking for social rewards from others. When it comes to the “bad” about themselves, too often individuals simply ignore that aspect of themselves, don’t see it at all, or deliberately squelch it.

    It takes guts to acknowledge honestly one’s faults, weaknesses, and less good aspects; but (and perhaps more importantly) it also takes guts to acknowledge and study what is good about oneself –- and then *not* brag about it but simply (humbly) acknowledge to oneself the truth of the good and continue on that way of living.

    I’m not trying to dispute anything Buddhist here. In fact I’m saying: Isn’t it Buddhist to simply acknowledge the good in oneself and do it “humbly” –- no bragging, just simply acknowledging it as a part of one’s being? Or maybe I don’t know enough about Buddhism.

    Yes, those who do courageous things may well be heroes; but I also wonder what their faults may be. Perhaps if we knew the less good things about some heroes, we’d not think they were all that great. Yet, the person who lives simply may be a true hero.

    I’m glad when someone does something good for another, especially when that person is in serious need of help, and am not inclined to ask what kind of person was the “hero”. Yet, the tendency of our society to label everyone who does something that takes some guts a “hero” often looks askance at the individual simply living his/her life, doing good things that are unacknowledged. Don’t underestimate yourself. MCS

    Comment by MCS — March 31, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

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