Sunday, August 15, 2004

Expectations

To paraphrase Anais Nin, "we see things not as they are, but as we are". So does that mean that I'm *not* really dumb, lacking in creativity, and abounding in arrogance? Sweet.

Hmmm, I doubt it's this simple. Since creating blogs, I've found myself increasingly more afraid to write. The abstinence from editing is both an excuse and a burden. Without editing, I can shrug off the poor grammar, etc by playing the "Hey! I'm not proofing! card". In truth, to proof would mean that I meant to write this crap, and that's far scarier than I care to acknowledge.

I've spent a good part of my conscious life being generally optimistic. It has always seemed to me that things will indeed work out and in the end there will be a lesson and we'll all be better off. While I still think that holds true, unfortunately that optimism has also extended itself towards my belief in myself. I am calling it optimism but maybe I mean unfounded ego? (Well, is there ever founded ego?) Anyways, I have always believed that I'm not restricted by intellect (for the record -- this applies to society at large-- not just me) or skill. And now, it pains me to realize that I'm not as smart or creative or talented as I have always assumed. This sounds horribly pompous, and ignorant, but I don't mean I was walking around going, "Jesus I'm bright". Rather, it's more just an assumption of possibility. And now, I'd like to excuse it as lazy (I haven't been reading as much, I'm not in school anymore, etc.) but I'm not so sure that's legitimate. How have I gotten by? On the promise of potential? I suspect so, and in the end, that's pretty lame.

My friend Heidi and I were making mens shirts this weekend. I say we, when in reality it was Heidi doing the sewing. Sure I offered my "expert" editorial, but isn't it argued that critics are just the frustrated (and perhaps talentless) artists? Even in something as simple as drafting the logo, I felt flustered in Photoshop, trying to perform tasks I've done a 100 times before, and realized I don't have the keen eye of a graphic designer. It feels horribly fake, illegitimate, and marginalized to not be the do-er. Though, these are not insurmountable tasks so I wonder why I continue to wing it - rarely putting in the time it takes to learn something properly? Am I not interested enough? I doubt it. It's possible that this is an excuse too, but I think it's likely that as long as I don't learn something, I don't have to *not* be great at it. It's much easier to dwell within the realm of not knowing than it is to know, and to not meet your own expectations.

It's very hard for me to neg out for any extended period of time, and I'm growing increasingly bored w/ this blog as I write it, so let me tie this one up optimistically, as I'm wont to do. I've spent the last 2 1/2 years of my life working on removing ego from my motivation, my perspective, and the way that I interact with people. This has been no easy feat, as I didn't realize how steeped in fear I really was. In large part, I have nearly rid my yoga practice from it, which is probably why I love practicing and teaching so much. But yoga is my free pass, as if because of my reading I know that ego gets in the way, thus no place for it, so get rid of it blah blah blah, and it is literally almost that simple. However, in my life when I'm not practicing or reading or consciously thinking of yoga, I find myself falling prey to self-loathing and narcissism (not so diametrically opposed). I have these internal expectations that I'm supposed to be something really great, and when those expectations don't pan out, well the fallout sucks it. And in truth, when forced to admit it, I know it is impossible to separate the practice from the rest of my life.

I'm reminded of Desikachar speaking about the yamas and niyamas in Heart of Yoga. He says that before we react to anything we must first observe. Observing gives opportunity to not act in haste. The Buddha counsels about this as well -- that by seeing things as they are, we then have the opportunity to gently turn around; the act of practicing less desire. I wonder, is it possible to attain nirvana if Nin is correct? If we, even when trying to examine, see things are we are, not as they are? So where am I going w/ this? I don't know. I talk in circles, seldom with a point. Frequently. I do know, or rather, suspect, that the answer to my disappointments is in releasing myself from expectation or a need for external approval. This is not to say that all those suspicions of laziness aren't legitimate, but rather, to DO something about it, free from concern for the outcome. Read more books, take more classes, etc. without the expectation of an impermanent pay-off and without any judgment.

1 comment:

worldbelow said...

Very frank and very good. I suspect most people are trapped in the same fear of disappointing themselves as you alluded to. Some don’t even realize it or rationalize all this other stuff around it. I think it's sad for all of us that this is the case. It's sad not because people are disillusioning themselves into having talent, but rather it's sad because so much talent is repressed because of this fear.