A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 40…

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Lately, I’ve been full of introspection – more so than usual.

As I manage to do from time to time (as The World’s Worst Buddhist,) I’ve been paying more attention to His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he pops into my periphery. He epitomizes so much I want to be in my life, yet short of which I soft often fall.

In a nutshell, His Holiness’ function in this world is to spread lovingkindness and compassion, and to love all beings. No judgment, no resentment.

I’ve seen him speak twice in person, and it is a profound experience. It was the site of the most powerful spiritual insight I’ve had, but even apart from that, sitting and listening to him speak, just being in his presence, was… it was calming, uplifting, soothing, enlightening. It made me strongly consider leaving a secular life and becoming a Buddhist nun.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Still, when I am able to gather my senses briefly and go back to that almost magical space/time of being in his presence, it calms me. It provides much more fertile mental ground for introspection and self-analysis. I surely cannot call it meditation, per se, because it lacks any kind of disciplined focus. It does, though, sometimes provide good insights – some of which are basic enough to be forehead-smackers, like “how could I have been so stupid this whole time?”

Such as the following:

I spend a fair amount of mental time in the past – reliving moments, conversations, embarrassments, shame, happiness, love, excitement. I think many of us do. What I tend to do, however, is to place attachments and values on those moments, sometimes even subconsciously reorganizing present life to try to regain or relive some of those past moments – which are, naturally, gone. Sometimes, I foolishly try to reorganize present life to avoid the moments of the past – those moments that are long gone, but still affect me in some way. There is, of course, no avoiding them – they happened. But allowing them to dictate my present is just silly.

The majority of my emotional baggage comes from my mother, from when I was about 8 until well after I was in college. She relentlessly heaped her judgment upon me, mixed in with a lot of love and praise, mind you, but oh, the judgment, and even more, the disappointment. I live in that disappointment, I see my mother’s disapproval everywhere.

For fuck’s sake, people, I am nearly 40 years old. That’s got to stop!

Do daughters carry Mommy Issues around with them for their whole lives? Oh, probably. But I think I can probably shed some of this extraneous bullshit about what I should or should not be/do/look like. I don’t conform to what other people think I should be doing in most regards – I have usually gone and done My Own Thing, regardless of stereotypes, general societal norms, et cetera. But the past harsh words and judgments from my mother? Those still haunt me many times per day. It turns me into a more negative and judgmental person, myself.

NOTE TO ME: My school years are gone – long gone. While what happened during those times surely is a large part of who I am, I am free to be different, to become whatever else I want to be. Those years were practice for The Big Show, The Real Deal – this is the life part of Life. This is where I can make things happen.

Why, then, do I let myself be carried along by the river?

There are surely times when I feel more myself than I usually do, and those are happy times. The rest of the time, I am burdened by feelings of inadequacy, ineptness, of not living up to what other people expect of me, of disappointing. I care far too much about disappointing people, and I am frequently in awe of people who seem not to live in fear of it or who can outright brush it off and carry on unfazed.

To me, that is nothing short of AMAZING.

Reading this over, it all seems so “duh, Erin; it took you twenty years as an adult to realize this? Seriously?” and “how come you can fly in the face of what’s expected some of the time, but be so traditional and cowed by other things?”

I don’t know

I’m trying to figure it out.

When I practice mindfulness, I feel a pull internally and externally. It is only present when I am being mindful. It remind me of when I was a little girl, taking ballet lessons. The dance instructor told us all to visualize a string going through our bodies, from deep in the ground way up past our heads, running through our spines. With that vision in mind, it was easy to maintain good posture – but when it slipped, I slouched a little.

Our bodies, my body, respond so well to a little mental discipline – why is it so hard for some of us to exercise it?

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