The Inner Struggle

Doing the Right Thing … with anger and resentment? … or peaceful humility?

ゆりかごの歌”  William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

“Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

For the last little while, I have been thinking about stress and disposition, over hot coffee, and amongst friends and allies, all the while acknowledging that  congeniality and a relative absence of turmoil and emotive stress are required to consider honestly any life situation involving said turmoil and stress.

I have been considering the difference between doing, or not doing the required “right thing” which you are handed by circumstances and the exigencies of daily life. Between saying and not saying whatever comes to mind as one finds oneself yet again troubled by the unrest resulting from the ill considered actions and sayings of others.

As Bill the Bard famously wrote: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them”. I rather suspect folks have thinking these thoughts for a long long time.

I think the question of doing or not doing is pretty much settled, at least for me. Of course we “do the right thing” regardless of how we feel about it personally, sometimes we even manage to do it to the extent that we choose to make major personal sacrifices to do the right thing. All well and good. Doing “the right thing” is the important thing. 

But my personal jury is still out deliberating over “saying” or “not saying”.  Adapting ourselves to the mentalities, preferences and needs of others proves to be a real obstacle to doing the right thing with good will. We give ourselves a free pass to say whatever comes to mind because “the other” is wrong, rude, ungrateful, malicious, stupid, they don’t understand, they never learn … the excuses we use to heal our self image and justify our bad behaviour are endless.

Captain James T. Kirk

We choose to insist upon our personal feelings, our point of view, our own tastes, instead of resolving to overlook  all the differences of temperament, mentality, education, experience, tastes and so on.

Putting ourselves as the service of the other with a genuine and sincere spirit of humility in all things would short circuit the hard wired reactions of resentment, anger, judgement, and general dissatisfaction with the “moronic” conduct of others which lack of consideration and foresight leads to all the problems and crisis of daily life, our “Calvary”.

So how can one reasonably transition from anger, resentment, thirst for personal justice and fairness, wake up and smell the coffee, people, the all encompassing general irritation with the idiosyncrasies and idiocy of those around us who are continually screwing with our otherwise peaceful pleasant lives by their self-centered, narcissistic, ill-considered, defecation on the carpet of life?

How can one transition from pride and arrogance to humility and peace?

“早春賦”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

Mark Manson, 2016

Mark Manson, 2016

It strikes me today that that place of transition, that no-man’s land between anger and arrogance and peaceful humility, may well be entered into by Mark Manson’s “Subtle art of not giving a F***”. As he says in his book (swapping the F-bomb for “damn”):

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Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon.

And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of damns to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a damn about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get damned.

There is a subtle art to not giving a damn. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an idiot, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.

This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.

Because when you give too many damns—when you give a damn about everyone and everything—you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the damned way you want it to be.

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Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 13-14). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The fault zone, the rift valley, between the tectonic plate of self-righteous anger and resentment and the neighboring undiscovered country of peaceful meekness and humility in all things is so huge as to be difficult to apprehend and consider crossing without some kind of mountain pass or transition zone.

I am thinking that perhaps that philosophical mountain pass is in fact exactly what Mark is talking about: “pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values”.

Not only “what matters to me” but leap to “What Matters”! In this metaphorical mountain pass we can pick off daily bites of climbing which our limited abilities make doable.

Considering the entire fault zone as one huge challenge to “leap at a single bound!” puts us in the position of having to be Tony Stark in our Iron Man flying power armor. We are going to fail, come up short, confirm just what a screw-up we really are, in short turn our struggle into a self fulfilling prophecy of failure and misery.

Then, as a newly realized, miserable failure, we are tempted to indulge in : … F***ing  things up in at least one of two ways: 1.   “Denial”.  Some people deny that their problems exist in the first place. And because they deny reality, they must constantly delude or distract themselves from reality. This may make them feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life of insecurity, neuroticism, and emotional repression.

And 2.  (a real biggy) Victim Mentality”.  Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.

People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good, while solving (personal behaviour) problems is hard and often feels bad.

So, these days I am strongly leaning towards “daily bites of climbing” which are doable with our limited resources and God’s help. The other part of this challenge is the understanding that we are unlikely to be successful in attaining peaceful, humble, meekness in any degree of perfection. This is a daily ongoing battle – failing and getting up again and trying again.

No matter how much we may seem to have failed, the climb is all about never giving up and always starting again with renewed commitment. This is all that matters, it is an effort of the will, it is not emotional, and there are precious few consolations along the way. The emotional danger of feeling that all our time and effort is wasted is what tempts us to give up in our effort.

Our ordinary notion of progress does not serve us well in this climb, for it will often appear that we spend more time failing than succeeding, and in that we lose site of the fact that the climb is all about trying and never giving up.

At least that is how it seems to me these days.

Cheers

Joe

Never Give Up, Never Give Up, Never Give Up …

 

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Thy will Be done …

“ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

Stole my title today from another site I visit regularly by a young lady with bipolar. Seems appropriate when my busy world is filled with daily crosses and my prayer life is beset by aridity and the temptation to just chuck it all.

Pope Pius XI“The man who prays looks above to the goods of heaven whereon he meditates and which he desires; his whole being is plunged in the contemplation of the marvelous order established by God, which knows not the frenzy of earthly successes nor the futile competitions of ever increasing speed; and thus automatically, as it were, will be reestablished that equilibrium between work and rest, whose entire absence from society today is responsible for grave dangers to life physical, economic and moral. ” –Pope Pius XI

“grave dangers to life physical, economic and moral” …  pure prophecy coming from a Pope who wrote this in the 1930’s. Frenzy and futility just pretty much describes exactly what we see in daily live all around us.

Cheers

Joe

Desert Walkempty oneself of every trace of belief in one’s “goodness”.

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow …

“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools … ”

ゆりかごの歌”  William W. Spearman IV, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs” (2006)

Obedience is an essential aspect, a virtue, a character trait intimately associated with Christ’s life on earth. It is essential in any attempt to follow Him and to conform one’s will to God’s.

Fasting and praying are both difficult when distracted by the daily vicissitudes of illness. Having had the most vicious cold with accompanying lung ripping cough it has been difficult to continue my fast with dedication.

As Jason Fung has mentioned in his blog, just take a few days off from fasting to get well, don’t add unnecessary stress when you are fully engaged in getting well.

Being obedient to the mission goals – restrained eating – 1 meal a day, pushing fluids, water, broth, is problematic and requires real effort of will.

Obedience … the voluntary surrender of one’s free will to accomplishment of the goal. Who would have thought that obedience would be even more difficult to embrace than humility.

I feel that we are on a mission against great powers to push through (the mud and the blood) to the green fields beyond (my grandfather would have recognized the reference).

The goal of health, weight loss, low insulin levels, low blood pressure and on top of that “spiritual peace and tranquility” seem far away and unattainable at times, especially when the trials of this world intrude upon one’s determination to persist.

Hobbes’ Leviathan – life as “nasty, brutish, and short” mid nineteenth century.

It does seem passing strange that ill-health, disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, muddy thinking and fuzziness, lack of energy, lack of conviction and certainty, all seem to directly benefit the higher authorities who have assumed nominal responsibility for looking after our well-being.

Just think for a minute, if we all actually got healthy they would all be out of work. The legions of health related government service silos and the big pharma and big food multinational agri-conglomerates, the whole GMO crowd, would all be in dire financial straights, wouldn’t they?  Who was it who said “follow the money”?

In the real world of every day …  blood sugar hovering around 7.0 – best since I was diagnosed 8 years ago, weight down to 238 lbs. best in 8 years. BP down to 115/65 also good, and off all my medications for blood pressure and diabetes. This is all good, right? Why do I feel so down then?

St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians seems to speak to this experience – this whole struggle is much larger than just dieting … Ephesians 6 … Douay-Rheims Bible … attempting to return to an earlier order that was not about breaking down people into resources to be used and used up …

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Children and Parents

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. 2 Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth. 4 And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord.

“The Wind Of Liudao”, Jia Peng Fang, from the album “Faraway”, (2002)

Slaves and Masters

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ: 6 Not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men, but, as the servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, 7 With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men.

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond, or free. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatenings, knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in heaven; and there is no respect of persons with him.

The Full Armor of God

10 Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. 11 Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

13 Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: 16  In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. 17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

Pray Continually

18 By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints: 19 And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel. 20 For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

Final Greetings

21 But that you also may know the things that concern me, and what I am doing, Tychicus, my dearest brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make known to you all things: 22 Whom I have sent to you for this same purpose, that you may know the things concerning us, and that he may comfort your hearts. 23 Peace be to the brethren and charity with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption. Amen.

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Dieting as an exercise in scriptural meditation … “the spirits of wickedness in the high places” is that just too pretentious? I actually don’t think so … wickedness in high places … affecting every aspect of every day in every way …

Meanwhile, in the real world of every day …  blood sugar hovering around 7.0 – best since I was diagnosed 8 years ago. Weight down to 238 lbs. best in 8 years. BP down to 115/65 also good. Off all my meds, just taking vitamins, really, except for the cold we are struggling with we are feeling the best we have in years. Things are actually looking pretty good when we stay focused on the minutiae of the day.

Cheers

Joe

and never take yourself too seriously …

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