I’ve just watched the video, above, of Glennon Melton’s TEDx talk. It resonated so powerfully with me. The past 10 years of my life have been spent removing, what she calls, my capes. Capes are what we use to try to stop ourselves from having to deal with the hard, messy feelings that we have, in reaction to the world that is out there. Capes are how we create a “safe”, clean, controlled world to stay in, instead. It’s just sheer dumb luck, I think, that my capes were things like good grades instead of bulimia, or musical skill instead of alcoholism. Lucky, only because my cape-things were less outwardly-destructive. But inwardly — just as much so, I think. Removing them was just as brutal as she describes, and just as beautiful too. It’s interesting that having a child is what finally prompted us both to start showing up and being real. It’s still hard sometimes, but not as often as it used to be. And it’s also a lot easier in other ways. Like that Mark Twain quote says, “If you tell the truth, then you don’t have to remember anything”.
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Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one. ― C.S. Lewis
I spent some time
this week three months ago thinking about the question, “why is it so hard to keep wanting something after I have it?” It’s taken this long to finish writing about it because I was waiting until I had “all the answers”. But that’s a topic for another post.
So. Back to “why is it so hard to keep wanting something after I have it?”
Sometimes, it’s because of differences between what I imagined it would be like, and what it is like in reality. Kind of like when little kids see animated Lego planes fly around on commercials, and think the actual Lego plane is going to fly too. They talk their parents into buying it. Then, boom! Fantasy meets reality in a big crash landing.
Other times, though, things really are just the way I had imagined they’d be but still leave me wanting. So there must be another cause. What I realized is that the fantasy/reality discrepancy exists not just externally, in the wanted item, but internally in the wanting itself. What I think I want may be an incomplete or inaccurate identification of what I really want.
As an example, sometimes I think I am hungry, so I want food. I go to the kitchen but either nothing looks good, or I start to eat a little of something and suddenly lose my appetite completely. After a while it occurs to me that what I really am is thirsty, and I want something to drink. Having the food I “wanted” left me wanting, even though the food was exactly as I expected it to be, because food is not going to satisfy thirst.
Contentment is the result of not only having what you want, but wanting what you have. Knowing what you really want before you get it is the first step toward contentment.
This morning the world mourns the loss of a great soul, Steve Jobs. I’ve just watched his commencement address at Stanford, which he gave in June, 2005. He talked about having dropped out of college and how that freed him to take classes he was really interested in, rather than ones that merely fulfilled requirements. One such class was on calligraphy, which had absolutely no apparent application to his life, but which he credits for giving him the knowledge and aesthetic sense that he used ten years later to design beauty into the typography on the MacIntosh. The story is a lead-in to this truth:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever – because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.
What dots can I draw today, so they will be there to connect to someday?
Here I am, at my new blog! My old one got too heavy.
Just like moving into a new home, or setting up a blank canvas to paint, the possibilities seem endlessly exciting. What link should I put here? Which picture will look great over there? It’s tempting to rush. But, like a pair of new shoes, I’m just going to wear it a while until it gets comfortable.