Walking Towards The Bear

“Every moment of one’s existence, one is growing into more or retreating into less.
One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.”
Norman Mailer

I received an email newsletter from Tama Kieves, author of This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love and Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work, with this quote at the end of a story about how she had to walk past a bear while hiking in the words.

And I thought: What is my bear? What is the thing in my life that scares me most of all? For me, it has been the same thing as long as I can remember: Wanting to please others, I restrict myself. In my head, I have equated things I do with other people, their reactions, and their anger.

But is that really true?

The Buddha says the way to end suffering is not to be attached to anything. Let feelings and situations come and go. Don’t cling. Experience it and then release it. The Buddha would tell me not to be attached to what other people do. Just live my life, and let other people do what they are going to do.

I’m not into a lot of New Age woo. I try to have an open mind. If there are things that don’t ring true with me, I set them aside. If there’s too much of that, then I toss the book. One book I did not toss was The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. The one I need to work on the most is this: Don’t take things personally.

That can be difficult when you want to maintain a relationship that is important to you, and you have spent your life interpreting things personally. However, to continue taking things personally moves me in the direction of dying a little bit. I feel hollow inside and unable to move forward based on things I can do nothing about.

Can I make someone see another point of view? No. Can I make someone talk to me? No. Can I help someone change themselves to be more trusting, more open, and to forgive so that I can have a deeper relationship with them? No. I have no control over a lot of things that other people do, but the fact is that, somewhere deep inside, I do believe it.

And that’s a major problem.

The bear won’t overwhelm me. The bear will threaten and roar, and then leave me in the wilderness by myself. I will be alone, vulnerable, and afraid. The bear stalks me like this every day of my life.

I am taking steps to try and free myself from the idea of the bear. The bear isn’t necessarily fear or terror. The bear is what we make it.

And, as Tama Kieves says in her newsletter, the only way out of our conundrum is to walk past the bear towards freedom.

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