Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Inertia: Motivation to do Nothing

At our bi-annual dinner, a friend of mine and I were discussing how drawn we are to talk about change,  and the difficulty of making it happen.  It's so easy to just keep doing what we do:  even if we don't really like it.  Change usually has no guarantee of success or happiness - only of being different. It can seem risky and scary.

One of the CEOs of a company I previously worked for prohibited the company from having change initiatives.  We could propose  improvements, betterments, growth...but not change.  I get it.  Change is an investment, and he wanted a guarantee.

Me too!            

I attended a discussion group today and we talked about nihilism: the idea that the world has no purpose, that life is futile.  I know, it sounds bleak.  It's a common thought that occurs to those who seek.  Fortunately, most come around again to the realization that what they felt was probably a bit of detachment that happens as you get a glimpse of what you thought life was, but isn't, and before you get a hold of what it is.
That detachment, though, isn't as desolate as it sounds if it's paired with benevolence.  I think of it the same way that I can care very deeply when I learn of a starving child in some far off place.  I don't know the child, yet I can be pulled to act, to try to resolve the problem, or at least do something to improve it.  Yet, if I wasn't detached in some way, how could I sleep at night knowing a child is starving?  Benevolent detachment allows me to make plans, to strategize, to design the change that could impact that child and others.  However, detachment without the benevolence just lets me roll on my merry, self-centered way, tucking that picture or thought away never to be revisited.

What I've come to see is that when applied to life that is closer, this works, too.  Work, family, relationships, financial worries, grief and loss and disappointment infiltrate life, and our circumstances will still bring tears and sadness and worry.  But that bit of benevolent detachment lets me once again find the seed of joy that is still there between the falling tears, in the pause at the top of the next breath, or in the distracted thought that was not of the major event befalling me then.

I watched the moving Loving.  It's about an interracial couple, the Lovings, who in the 1950s were both arrested for going against the anti-interracial marriage laws of the state of Virginia.  And I thought about inertia.  How easy if the Lovings had decided to just hide in rural Virginia and try to stay out of notice.  I found relief in the ruling, in their favor, that allowed their children to be recognized as heirs, and allowed them the simple rights afforded to others who simply love and hurt no one in doing so.  I was reminded again why I don't want inertia to be the motivating force of  my life.  Status quo begs to be upended.

What isn't being noticed, what is going undone?

I've been on a purposeful (yeah, slow!) path to change for about a year.  I hired a coach, I started this blog. I started meditating and stuck to it.   I filed a patent.  I ended a relationship.  I am finishing up a class. I cut my hair.  And I proposed a change in my role at work.  I don't yet know how this will turn out.  Moving is probably in my path, too.

The external is never permanent, and yet I have spent so much of my life clinging to sand, thinking I could hold it still.  Another movie to watch sometime: Grand Canyon.  The characters contemplate the vastness of the earth and wonder: why don't we take more chances -- we are just a speck of nothing, what would it matter?!

My Self -- that same essence I have always been,  has never left me.  All the things that come and go are not the source of my joy.  Happiness can come, fleeting in and out, from the outside. If it comes, it  will also go. But joy - the knowing - the connection to that glue that joins all life - that is love and that is here with me and all I need do is be aware of it. Ah, there you are! Here I am.

I started this blog because I knew that writing was something I wanted to do, and my coach said, "then write!" I'm going to shift my writing and this is my last blog on the Mileposts heading. Thanks for keeping me company.  I hope that you are finding companions, too, on your journey towards your fullest experience of peace, love, and joy.