The hardest part of confronting my preconceived ideas is remembering to. It reminds me of when I quit biting my nails. Driving in the car with my mother at age 17, I was on her case about her smoking cigarettes… again. Poor woman, I had little concept of acceptance in my teens. I thought “change for the better” meant “everyone but me.”
This day, mum said something different. She asked, “What’s that in your mouth?” I told her biting nails was nothing like smoking; for starters, it wasn’t going to kill me. She said addiction is addiction and gave me a challenge: if I quit, she’d quit. So I quit, and she didn’t for another 10 years. I digress, my point being, when I was quitting I found the hardest part was remembering not to bite my nails; fighting the urge to bite my nails was easy in comparison. So habitual was it that it was a part of me, I did it without thought. I bit away half my arm before I’d think CRAP, I’m not supposed to be doing this anymore. So I put polish on my nails. That was enough to create a slight shift in how my nails felt, triggering my mind when I started to nibble, and the rest was a cinch.
That is how it is at the beginning of emotional awakening. The way I think and my reactions to the world around me are so deeply a part of me that for years I feared that to stop “being me”, well, who would I be?
When I first heard this idea about ego and personality it was from a Buddhist perspective. I dug the message that my emotions and reactions were a choice, that they are not actually who I am, but how I choose to be in a given moment. Yet, I struggled with it, I doubted it, it made little sense really. I didn’t know what to do with the information either. Men meditated in caves for decades to achieve such knowing. The books and religions and psychobabble made the whole thing sound so complex and frightening and like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – a big deal. I didn’t understand that you don’t sell books with only one page in them so writers plump it out. This only serves to confuse the rest of us though.
The depths to which my judgments run is still a shock to me. Unexamined ideas on how the world and her people should operate. I was driving down the road with my family near my own house and saw some teenagers skateboarding. Each one had his pants down his ass at different levels, one kid had no underwear on at all and his whole butt was showing. Something stopped me from the knee jerk reaction of commenting loudly at the ridiculous current fashions to the rest of my family and us all having a giggle at his unknown expense.
In that instant I thought it, I checked myself, I examined my thoughts. I said to myself that in many cultures, people don’t wear anything at all, so why am I judging some ass crack? I don’t even personally care about ass crack, in fact, I like ass crack. I’ve been conditioned to judge ass crack.
Just a simple moment of clarity, not even worth sharing on a blog really, but there it is anyway. Because it IS in the simple things, the little things, for that is where we live. We live in a running commentary of little things, punctuated by occasional big things. If I save my personal examinations for only the big things, I will overlook the majority of my illusions and habits.