Open Letter to the open ear.

By on Apr 25, 2016 in The Unruly Ascetic

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You shouldn’t be hot headed unless you want to rock the boat.

Mixing metaphors (or whatever), sue me.

I have a friend who really inspires me in how chill he is.  I don’t mean he’s lazy or unmotivated.  He is an impressively successful artist and works his tattooed tail off.  He’s just steady by nature. When problems arise he keeps a level head and handles challenges reasonably and responsibly.  He’s not one to rock the boat and I respect anyone who can be diplomatic and altruistic enough to think that way.

Some people are earth shakers.  Their blood runs hot and they cry foul and will capsize the whole damn ship to prove a point.  I respect these people too, particularly when they are willing to risk their own life or livelihood for the sake of justice.  People like this often vibrate at such a high frequency that they live slightly manic lives.  Largely I think this is a necessary sacrifice; you can’t turn the world on its head and be uber chill to the core.

Disclaimer: obvs the spiritual leaders of our time do EXACTLY this, they stay cool and collected and shake up people’s worlds.  They are a level of superbeing which I am excluding from this discussion knowingly. This is a discussion of mere mortal doofuses like me.

I have often had a kind of back-of-my-mind problem with many people I knew who considered themselves activists: people who would get all riled up about the injustices of the world, rant and rave, sacrifice their own personal peace (and that of anyone who would listen), over any myriad of issues.  This is all well and good if you get out there and dedicate your life to the cause, mind you. The people I took issue with were the ones who did all the ranting but never any of the rallying, extremely confrontational and hot headed on a small scale but not willing to rock the boat on the large scale.

It’s easy to be this way.  I am this way and I think that’s part of where my disquiet came from.  I can get SO worked up over things that I consider to be unfair.  Whether it’s world politics, or ashtanga politics, or wait-staff politics.  I can get up in a fluster and bitch people’s ears off. But do I go to Law school and change the world?  Do I lead a charge against Ashtanga problem teachers? Did I quit the serving jobs that paid for Mysore?

No. I haven’t done any of those things.  I’ve annoyed my dear patient friends to the ends of the earth with my rants about how people are unfair to one another (and more importantly: me), but I’ve never opened myself up wide to the backlash that comes from making my claim of injustice public on the level that it will affect my life on the larger scale. I’ve privately ranted myself down, coming to no reasonable conclusion, having spent hours or days or weeks dwelling on something that I felt powerless to change and too craven to try.

I’ve also avoided conflict and strived in desperation for understanding and acceptance to the point that I’ve realized that way too much of the time, I have been part of the problem.  I’ve been selfish or unwilling to admit my mistakes or too willing to sacrifice someone else’s happiness for my own goals.  In the end, I’ve never felt like I was “right” enough to be able to take my issues and to the powers that be.  I’ve never been certain enough or brave enough or sure enough to be an earth shaker.  When I was a kid and grown ups told me I was precocious and smart and that I’d be a leader one day I believed them… and then it turned out that I’m a bit of a wimp.  I’m kind of lazy and pretty insecure and I don’t have the courage to really put myself out there as a voice of a cause.

So, since I’m realizing that I like reason and steadiness, I should probably try to be less hot headed.  I only recently fully acknowledged this to myself, but I think I’ve been learning it over the last six years of going to Mysore.  I have met such diverse people and gained varied perspectives and I’ve been provided with so many opportunities to reinvent myself.  I don’t want to be a hot head who is stubborn and willing to fight. I don’t want people to shake their heads when they think about how I just complain constantly about how everyone else is wrong and messing it up and congratulations to me for being so enlightened. 

I can’t do anything about being stubborn.  I can’t do anything about the fact that I will feel all of the passion that injustice brings up.  But I can work on processing it, thinking about it and learning from it without letting it own me and my choices.  This blog has been an outlet for the chickenshit know-it-all in me who wants her voice heard but as time goes by it is teaching me so much more about being reasonable. In this digital age, when our voice is recorded permanently, being a loud mouth can come back to bite you.  Knowing that (and being painfully and probably un-healthily aware that there are people who hate me -and think I’m just a manipulative fake- no matter what I do or say), this blog has developed into a personal practice of being fair and reasonable, of stepping down off my soap box of ‘my experience is the best’ and trying to consider when I’m wrong.

I’m sure I’m wrong a lot.  I am certain that I can still be selfish and inconsiderate and unjust in my views.  For that, I am sorry.  If you read this or anything else I write and you think I’ve been unfair, please write to me and explain to me what you feel I have done. I do not promise to agree.  I pride myself on my ability to agree to disagree, no hard feelings.  But I do promise to consider any perspective that I have neglected. That’s how we learn and grow, by calling one another out on our shit.

I don’t want to rock any boats.  I think if the world had a little less boat rocking and a little more kind-hearted logic, we’d all be in a better place.