Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free of Ego, Free of Regret

I have had it in my mind's eye over the past week something that was a supplemental resolution of mine for 2008. I wrote it in my journal almost a year ago. Somehow, over the months, I let it drift back into the recesses of my brain to sit unused. But I have revisited it recently, and somehow my understanding of it has changed. Something has "clicked" for me.
It is three simple words:

Free of Ego

I do not say "Free from Ego" because our egos are intrinsically a part of us. I don't wish to be free from my id, as if separated from my it. But "Free of Ego" implies a freedom from the constraints of the Ego as aggressor, competitor, and negative entity that guides us through our daily actions.

Free of Regret is something I have added to this mantra more recently as I have come to terms with the fact that I am a "Ruminator." I allow negative events and associations to drift into my psyche in the present moment, where they continue to fester like a boil on my memory. Even reminiscing and talking about these events with other people is, I have learned, no more constructive than dwelling on them internally. I wish to free myself of the Regret that at any moment can surface and change the course of my thought patterns and my day.

When I was in grad school, one of my fellow classmates accused me of cheating. I knew in my heart that I had not cheated, but he was a good friend and someone I had come to trust and confide in over the years. Realizing that he did not fully trust me in return for some reason (and I believe this was more about his personality than mine) was very hard to deal with or forgive. We made our amends, but to this day I know there is a tiny part of the situation that I have not exonerated. I may never completely forgive him for something I truly thought was poorly handled and downright wrong.

Being Free of Ego, Free of Regret means that in this moment, here and now, I will not allow myself to ruminate on this experience. I count to 3 and vow that after 3 seconds I move onto more positive, constructive thought patterns.

Other negative reminiscences such as this come up from time to time in my daily thoughts: disagreements I've had with a family member whose core beliefs are much different than mine, or things left unsaid that I wish I had said to win my case (there it is, the big EGO!). I'm sure we all have experienced similar things. When I am under the influence of Ego the Aggressor, I am allowing myself to think that I need to prove this person wrong, as if I am most definitely right and she is definitely wrong. With all the subjectivities in our great world that make it so multidimensional and fascinating, why would I make something so paltry as being "right" my main goal?

When I am Free of Ego, I speak with my own forthrightness and character, but I do not allow the aggressive ego to turn the situation into something negative: a competition or a bad experience. There is something to be learned in every circumstance. Only if the ego is quiet and calm can we see what is to be learned.

What is present in the space made available by being Free of Ego, Free of Regret?
Gratitude, Peace, Poised Self-Confidence, Joy, and Love.
This Thanksgiving, I will ruminate on these things, not the others.

This photo I took of our beloved Highland Lake this fall brings me much solace and gratitude.

How do you free yourself from Ego and Regret?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Waking Up In a New Political Landscape

I have tried, in the past few months, to keep politics at a good distance from this blog. In a political race, it is easy to alienate people who may not be rooting for the same candidate you are. Particularly in the farming community in which I dwell, thrusting my Obama sign into the grass in front of my house seemed somehow bellicose. I had to put my more apologetic tendencies aside and remind myself that this was, indeed, a competition, and I had every right to root for my team.

This past week has been monumental for me, as I'm sure it has for the majority of Americans. Even those who did not vote for Obama are surely realizing the historical importance of this election. If they're lucky, they will have at least experienced a flutter in their hearts upon viewing people all over the country and the world dancing in the streets and waving American flags. To know that people in countries all over the world are actually celebrating one of our decisions is truly spectacular. Regardless of how swiftly the Obama administration is able to carry out its promises, our whole political landscape has changed over night. America is transitioning into a new brand of country.

I woke up Wednesday morning with hope and excitement in my heart, and those feelings remain with me now. I feel fortunate that I have not fallen victim to the paranoia and xenophobia that caused many people to say "NoBama, No Way." After all, what has my generation of Americans experienced thus far that we can be truly excited about? Two gulf wars? 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? I think not. This is the first sign of positive progress we have been witness to. I never got to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon for the first time, or desegregation in schools. But I did get to witness the first black president elected into office, winning the popular and electoral votes, and humbling stepping onto the stage in Chicago to greet the world.

Certainly, this election does not prove that we are "color blind," or that we have demolished all racial barriers in this country in the matter of one day. I hope we don't begin to think so; there is still much work to be done. And neither will every election from this day forward go my way. But I have a renewed confidence in the power of grassroots movements, our rights as voters, and the constitution. As my friend Liz wrote very poignantly to me in an email this week:
"On this post-election day 1 (i.e. "the beginning"), I am making a
promise. Just as I typically, in the throes of a hangover, promise
never to drink again, I may be making a vow that I cannot keep. But I
am at least pledging to try…I will not lose faith in this country
again. I will not forget this day or this feeling, and I'm hoping
that you won't either. I will not let my guard down, and when this
country starts to mess up again, I will stay calm and hopeful, and
work to change it. And finally, although I can't promise not to
threaten it again, I won't actually move to Canada, no matter what."

May the energy from this week carry on over the next big steps in our country's progress, and into our everyday lives from this day forward.
And may we all learn great things from being part of our nation's great history.