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Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm Always Going to Tell You WHY to Do Something, Not Just to Do It

If you've read any of my other blog entries, I'm sure you've realized that I'm not a quick-little-snippet type of writer. Giving you little tidbits one at a time isn't my communication style. I want you to have all of the information that I know to give out. I will not teach you something without sharing how I learned (usually the hard way) that it works, why it works and how it works. I may slip up & forget to do this occasionally, but here's my method- I don't want to just read what to do without knowing whether the advice can be trusted or not. There are two kinds of people in the world- those who dictate instructions to others & don't want you questioning their authority on the subject. That person may in fact be correct, but you'll never know that they are or not unless you test it secretly on your own- and they'll never want you to contradict them if you find out they're wrong. The other type of teacher, or writer, actually looks for feedback. They're willing to consider every viewpoint. They'll admit that they were wrong later, if they found a better method, or learned how to tweak something differently to make it better. This is why books get revised versions, for example. Studies come out all of the time with new psychological, medical & other forms of knowledge. Setting your opinion permanently in stone is rarely helpful when your goal is to educate others & help them out. I hope I'm the second type of person. I may be more long-winded, but I'm going to share with you the benefit of my experience & my mistakes. I'm okay with making a fool out of myself, and sharing the results of the foolishness, if it'll educate somebody. I'm okay with you knowing what I do with my time, if it helps you manage your own life in a happier way. I'm fine with you realizing what my flaws are, what I did in my past & what failures I've been through, if it helps you to know you're not alone. You'll never see me do anything or everything perfectly. There's only one perfect Being that I know of, and I assure you that I am not even close to living up to many worldly standards.

I may have been given the great gift of communication, and have had the enormous blessing of living in a time when good information abounds, but I have learned much of what I did not through innate talent or via my successes, but through my many failures. What I write about to you here each day is not something that comes to me naturally. By nature, I'm intelligent but very easily distracted. Some of the most brilliant people in the world (and I'm not one of the most brilliant by a long shot) are unwilling & unable to acknowledge their faults, despite high IQ's & immense book learning. An ounce of humility is worth more than a pound of ego. I'm highly analytical, but lack discipline unless I continually watch out for self-destruction. Other people may see the surface & think that I was born knowing how to keep house, have an organized purse or possess a really neat closet, but I'll always known that I was born with the brain of a dreamer and well...a slob. Daydreaming was my chief hobby & escape throughout my school years & childhood, in general. I didn't adapt well to the working world at first, though I had a job from a young age. Back then, I looked longingly at stable, reliable, born-organized souls, wishing I had the quiet & ordinary mental, physical & emotional existence that they did. I wished I blended in. Instead, I always stuck out. Nothing seems worse when you're younger than to be different from all of your peers. Yet those very differences which seem like a curse in youth can someday become the very features that turn into your fortune one day as an adult- as has been my experience. Some people, even if they wish it wasn't so, are born to stick their neck out & communicate. You're given a voice, and know innately that you're expected to use it, no matter what the worldly cost. It's a voice that speaks out against injustice & speaks for rationale, dedicated to logic, sharply against closed doors.

No matter what our culture says, we have to be ourselves. We're all designed differently. We all have things we're good at naturally, and things that we can never become, no matter what we do. We can spend our lives in a desperate attempt to flee from who we really are, or we can embrace it & work with it. Of course, we all evolve. There's much to gain by being self-disciplined, by changing through work what we know we should change. But the discipline comes in harnessing & using your natural gifts, not denying them or pushing them down. Drown these natural gifts, attempt not to use them, and you stick a pin in the lifesaver you were born with. We're all programmed, to a degree, from the second that we're born. It's the way that our brains work. You have the choice to reprogram yourself at any time you wish, though. There are things we know in our souls that we need to change through gaining knowledge & applying it, but we shouldn't attempt to hide our gifts in the process.

I'll give you a theoretical, but not-too-far-from-reality, example. Say that you're not a morning person- never have been. You get your best energy from late afternoon on into the early hours of the morning, and then you're ready to sleep. You could clean house for hours, write whole thesis' & exercise every night if only you lived by your body's innate clock. However, you've been read the Puritanical verses so many times that you've spent your existence feeling guilty for your true nature. "The early bird gets the worm", "Idle hands are the devil's playground", "Early to bed, early to rise", etc.- they all have condemned you time & again. You've been admonished since the first days of school for your tardiness, lack of desire to get out of bed early, and inability to conform. You eye others enviously who arise naturally each morning at dawn & fall asleep easily before the late night talk show hosts come on the air. You desperately try to learn from & emulate them. You turn away from your natural creativity that peaks in the darkest hours, the love that you have for the city at night, the serenity that a sleeping world inside your community brings to you. You spend your life working against this natural bodily process of yours, getting a day job, exhausted with the world, longing for those hours of the night which can be so quiet around you & yet so rife with your natural energy, great ideas & happiness. You continually attempt to blend into the fabric of society by pleasing others. You feel dead inside because you're living against your natural rhythms, but you continue on with an eye on what you believe to be the ultimate prize- acceptance from others. Yet you despise the clicking-on of the alarm clock each morning when the sun isn't even quite done rising yet. Your morning commute fills you with dread each day. You feel like nothing more than a cog in the wheel. Your youth is slipping by you like pearls falling from a broken string, and yet everyone congratulates you for your self-discipline. But you get to the end of your life, only to realize your life of conformity fed you nothing in return. You wished you'd lived as the real you, even if it meant turning away from the suburban success you achieved. In an attempt to fit in, you subjected every impulse to live differently from others' expectations, through force of sheer will, to an eternal prison. Was it worth it? Did "fitting in" give you the happiness & fulfillment that you craved? Did you ever ask if there was another way? Did you ever even try to find out? Did you ever ask yourself if sounding like everyone else, looking like them, acting like them, was really worth it? If it was ever your destiny at all? Did your behavior lead you to glory, or merely to mediocrity? Did it a take a pack of cigarettes a day, a three-martini lunch each afternoon, a bottle of wine every evening & a sleeping pill before bed each night to mask your sorrows? What was wasted, what uniqueness, what talent, what originality, in this pursuit?

Remember, this is only an example. But forced conformity, even when only in reality self-enforced, yields a heavy cost. Carefully consider if you're willing & able to pay it, should you choose to continue on that path. I don't mind if you ignore me or judge me. Just be yourself.

-Liz

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