Thursday, May 15, 2008

Funerals inspire deep thought


I was sitting on a plane going to a funeral for my uncle in Scottsdale AZ, Wednesday. I love taking Southwest Airlines because they have the most kickass magazine, Spirit. I have gotten more inspiration from that magazine in the past 10 years than the bible--just the right combination of lifestyle relevancy to capture my attention on a 3 hour flight.

This time I was inspired by an article: Being an Angel, paying things forward, (Spirit May 2008, p.76) [Screw MLA standards on referencing, I never get it right.]

Anyway, in the article there was a quote from Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. Good stuff, pretty well sums up the concept of monkey see/monkey do, live by example, be authentic, be a role model, inspire by doing. I couldn't agree more and figure I am wired this way (in a way), for whatever reason and feel compelled to do something to change the world someday, for the better.

To be honest, I have a big dose of this in my system. There is a huge part of me that would just as soon say: “Screw it. I am checking out from this perpetual struggle-of-a-place and making a change”. No more work, no more aspiration for material things, no more conforming to the way that our society doles out expectation, done. Of course, this idea combined with the fact that I have a kid getting ready to enter college, a mortgage, a business, employees and their families and lots of balls in the air, makes for an interesting dichotomy.

Yep, a large part of me says, “hey dude, be done with this. It’s time to move to the dessert and non-compete. Cash in and experience the grey area, that which isn’t fueled by money, or unreasonable fabricated resources and glutinous tendencies”. But then the voice fades; the appetizer comes from the kitchen at Annie Guns, as it always does.

I just figure that I have played my part well enough in society, done the job, performed for the system that incubates, cultivates and regulates others like me for future use, soldiers feeding the system for economic sustainability, for the status quo of our social economic position. I haven’t really “lived” any dream to change the world. I have just played the part, based on the rules given me. So it appears that it is not all that authentic having your cake and eating it too, what not going “all in” means.

So I am asking, who is truly “all in”, like Gandhi, especially when it comes to the struggles in front of us daily? There are those who are perceived to be genuine in their quest to change the world: politicians, educators, law enforcement, churches, capitalists. Societies measuring device, some sort of success quotient, keeps these people on the brink of disaster. We have such a need to perform, to succeed. We end up having to work both sides of the fence. As human beings, a negative environment necessitates performance. We are wired for performance and tell our stories of perseverance for the purpose of recruitment to excellence, more status quo for the jungle. You still with me?

It is in our wiring, the achievement thing. At least for me it is--a force, a yearning for accomplishment-- it's the game, a little out of whack at times.
I read the book the Four Agreements about five times to try and understand and then cure some of this. Not because I don’t enjoy what I have or want to change my comfy surroundings. But because there are times that the quest for success has become too much to deal with, the pressure and the connecting-the-dot craftsmanship that I purvey each day. It is a cycle: each day connects to the prior days dots and tomorrow I must connect those that I prospect ongoing, for more achievement, a vertical collection of achievements. The big secret? As long as the dots are in the pipeline it is not necessarily all that hard to keep things moving along.

I would not mind being studied like Gandhi was. Not that I think that there is anything remarkable about me or my situation. I am just thinking that all the commotion would be a catalyst for me to change...something—that I might enjoy all the attention enough to aspire to "Be"—I would need this as a catalyst, I suppose. I would then be forced to ask myself: what change would I like to see in the world? And how much of the change is really just about me? Something tells me that “being" the change that I want to see in the world requires a lot of sacrifice, and there lies what is wrong with the system.
Gandhi's Talisman:

"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."

- One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.

3 comments:

Craig said...

The real question is: What are they piping into the ventilation system on those flights?

That's some deep stuff, Ralph. I struggle with the notion of "God helps those who help themselves" vs. the propping up the weak. If a truly worthy case is to be found, as opposed to blindly tossing cash at giant, bloated charities, I'm in.

I guess that's why I've always thought the "Think Globally, Act Locally" mantra was the best solution. Time and finely-focused giving back pays the best rewards.

I haven't re-read Don Miguel-Ruiz Four Agreements since I told you about it, but I keep the agreements tacked on my wall as a daily reminder. I can't remember all 10 Commandments, but I think he covered them all (and more) in the agreements. Good stuff, fosho.

Oh, and per your previous post I've lost 3 lbs since last week ;-) Nana nah nah na na.

TeamSeagal said...

Amazing people like Gandhi make me feel like I'm not doing my part as a human, and that I couldn't ever possibly hope to measure up.

-Grothoff

Ralph Pfremmer said...

Well, he got chicks wearing a diaper. So that pretty well sets the standard.