a cork board

Stay True….and Stop Trying to Please Others
PMpThu, 03 Nov 2011 16:29:39 -040029Thursday 1, 2010, 4:29 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror | Tags: , , , ,

For as long as I can remember I’ve been worried/concerned about what people thought of me. I know it’s not right, but from a very young age I learned to tie people’s reactions with how they treat you, and that (in turn) became a reflection of how I felt about myself. So I started to base how I behaved on how people would treat me. I wouldn’t want to make anyone upset, and I wanted to be liked by everyone so I had learned to behave certain ways and to cater to people’s little whims and idiosyncratic habits and behavior.

It’s a sad thing to see really, the way I would cater to people. It even got to the point where I didn’t know who I really was anymore. I had a handful of personalities that I carried around in my pocket that I would use to please people. Depending on where I was I could be a different person, and that bothered me to a point. Because I would relish being by myself so much because it was the one time I got to truly be myself. I remember reading a poem in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books called Paintbrush that seemed like it spoke to me on so many levels. I really related to it, I felt like I could have written it myself. I finally found it online :

Paint Brush

I keep my paint brush with me
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn’t show
I’m so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you’ll do–that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I’m afraid I might lose you.

I’l dike to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.
So if you’ll be patient and close your eyes.
I’ll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.

Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked, bare and cold,
And if you still love me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.

I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case somebody doesn’t understand.
So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paintbrush with me
Until I love me, too.

-Bettie B. Youngs

So there I was, a myriad of personalities wrapped up in a little insecure person afraid to piss anyone off or upset anyone. It hasn’t been until recently that I realized how detrimental this is, not only to me, but to my wife and my son and anyone involved in my life…anyone who loved me. My wife (God love her) would always just encourage me to be myself and not worry about it. After a while, I started to listen. I started to find who I really was a few years back and started to realize that I can’t blame other people for the way they treat me. I simply cannot. Because people can only treat you in the manner in which you allow yourself to be treated. A very good friend of mine helped me see this. I had been so passive about speaking up for myself that one day I just had to pull my shoulders back, stop hunching, and hold my chin a little higher.

I had never wanted to behave like I thought I had a sense of entitlement. I was always taught that I was not better than any one person in the world. My Mom taught me that we are all equal. But I was putting myself beneath people. I still go back and forth with these thoughts, but I have my foundation to build on. It’s okay for me to piss someone off, if I’m standing up myself and what I believe in….if I’m being true to myself. It’s okay to disagree with someone. It’s also okay if you lose a friend for something petty, it means they weren’t a friend to begin with. I can only be myself, through and through. And the more I am, the more I see people fall to the wayside and other people from the past come back. Life is such a journey, and I’m not even halfway there. I’ll keep finding my way and staying on the path that I know will lead me into true independence and happiness. And in the process, I will show my son that he just needs to know himself and be himself.

I’ve just got to be true to myself.


PMpWed, 02 Nov 2011 16:46:25 -040046Wednesday 1, 2010, 4:46 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Some time ago I went to the Buddhist Temple down the street from my house (which is absolutely astounding in so many ways and I am lucky to have it so close by) and I meandered into their book store. There were countless books on Buddhism, some huge and some slim, some volumes and some single editions and some I felt lost just looking at. I wanted to start somewhere that would build a foundation for me. I didn’t want to become a Buddhist, but I wanted to explore some of the basic principles so I could build a house on top of that. So, I found a book called “The Core Teachings: Buddhist Practice and Progress 1” by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The read is smooth and slow and easy to understand. It uses basic language and does not over complicate things. I have not finished the book, because when I reached the section about the Dharma Seals I began to read and re-read them slowly and I could not grasp it. So I decided to take a break, because the concept of Emptiness never fully sunk in with me.

One of the things that did sink in though, was impermanence. In the book he talks about the Origin of Human Suffering. He spoke about the idea that nothing stays the same, that is the nature of the universe and of life. Things are constantly changing and evolving, because one experience is built on top of another, and so on and so forth. And because, as humans our nature is to grow attached to things, we then attach our emotional ties to them the way they are. We begin to covet them and hope and pray they stay the same. And when they change (as they always do), we become heart-broken. So this is the origin and beginning of human suffering. Impermanence is one of the guarantees in life, we can be absolutely sure that nothing will remain as it was.

But why do we continuously expect ourselves, our friends, family, job and world to stay the same? A lot of time we will meet people when they are at a crossroad in their life. Our paths may have very well crossed for the sole purpose of making the transition smoother for either us or them, or both. But we become attached to these relationships and the way we are as people. When the tides shift and the underlying, unknown purpose for the relationship is at an end we are left standing in the rain wondering what happened. Why can’t things be the way they used to be? Why did they change? Is it me? So begins the cycle of unhappiness that will carry into future friendships and relationships.

We start to eat away at ourselves because we expected that particular relationship to never change…but nothing stays the same, ever. We should be living our lives the way a river flows through a vast lay of land; picking up items along the way, leaving them behind when the time comes and moving forward with an unstoppable force. We should not be swayed or deterred by losing things or people along the way. If something is meant to be there, it will be. Everything runs its course and when the time comes for it to no longer exist, it perishes. Or there can be a very long and necessary break.

I decided to write this because I’ve been thinking about some of the acquaintances I’ve made over the last few years, the various people that have come in and out of my life. Some of them I let into my life deeply, while others, not so much. Some have changed right before my eyes; some turned into different people and some, well, their true colors finally started to show…but some of them turn into lifelong friendships. But it’s the ones that I never saw coming, the ones that I thought were real friendships and turned out to be nothing but a passing phase that get to me from time to time. I try to hold onto them the way they were and it just doesn’t work. Whatever the cause, we’re barely acquaintances anymore; we’re just a series of passing social pleasantries. And that’s okay. That is no reflection of me as a person, or them for that matter. I don’t need to classify them as shallow or harbor any resentment to make myself feel better. I just need to see myself as a river, and if a piece of driftwood wants to be with me until I reach the ocean, then they can come along for the ride. If they don’t, that’s fine too. I will keep moving and keep changing and so will the rest of the world. Nothing is permanent except the idea of impermanence.

Keep on keepin’ on.