Social Media, Silence, Enlightenment

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Stillness

I struggle with social media, as I think is the case for many introverts.

It is hard to balance the idea of connecting to people with the very real exposure that social media forces upon us. I ran into this just the other day when I had someone comment on a post that I “liked.” I did not share this post, but I liked it in passing; an action that was then published on my friends’ newsfeeds, upsetting, I am sure, more than the one person that commented.

Because, as is the case for many, our “friends” list is a mixture of family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, some of which, or many of which, do not share the same ideologies. This is the same in life, but, at least in the Pacific Northwest, rarely do these differences come to a point of contention, because they are not called out on, or addressed.

(an argument for or against that particular tendency can wait for another day)

Social media makes it easy to get offended at these differences.

For me, these flashes of contention make it hard to be on social media and I have, in the past, disabled my facebook account because of the exposure and the intense spotlight that occasionally occurs.

Sometimes it is just good to take a break.

But.

Enter my contemplation on silence.

Social media is the antithesis of silence. It is information and talking and interacting all the time. Even if I am not the one engaged in a conversation or a comment, my interaction is in the way I scroll through the posts and have thoughts on them.

It is not silent.

As such, I have contemplated giving up social media for good. And not only social media, but also severely limiting my online presence in general. I am a news junky. Every morning I read the NY Times and the Washington Post. Every morning. But again, in these times especially, the content is hardly silencing.

I am on word press. Writing. Communicating.

Not silencing.

Yet.

Yet.

There is always a yet, because the purpose of finding silence is to create stillness. The purpose of stillness is to unhook the identity of self in such a way to open up space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness.  The purpose of creating a space for contemplation, compassion, and kindness is to selflessly bring joy to the world.

What better way to bring joy to the world than to use social media?

I am not there.

Studying the concept of bodhicitta, a mind of enlightenment motivated by compassion for sentient beings, encourages me.  It is a brave, beautiful concept that requires a great deal of “rethinking” and adjusting.

What does it mean to be selfishly selfless?

What does it mean to truly have compassion for every sentient being… even those we vehemently disagree with?

And how do we go about making changes that will increase our capacity for compassion?

A first step is understanding that we are responsible for the way we see and interact with the world. I — not my family, friends, or acquaintances — am the reason I am WHO I am, and I am WHERE I am.

I am in control.

Of all of it.

No one else is able to influence me, change me, or manipulate me, unless I allow them to. Including those on social media. In the news. The driver that cuts me off. The family member that seeks to control. The friend who snubs.

How do I react to these things?

How do you react?

That is the secret. The piece of wisdom.

It is all in how we CHOOSE to react.

Pema Chodron says: “we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

Back to social media: it is no different. I follow silence down a path towards stillness in an attempt to find enlightenment so that I may be bring joy/light/compassion to living beings.

I can CHOOSE to use social media as a vehicle for my goal towards bringing joy/light/compassion.

Or I can see it as a hindrance.

But it is up to me.

This line of thought, of course, leads in a wandering way towards the entire concept of life.

What do we choose to interact with and why?

Who do we choose to interact with and why?

And in these decisions, where are the obstacles? The hindrances?

How I view social media and an internet presence, and the distraction that it causes, are all hurdles in this chosen path of mine.

How then, do I address them moving forward?

And you, dear readers, what challenges do you face?And how do you CHOOSE to react to them.

Until next time: may you find joy.

On Choice

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“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” -Yogi Berra

Last week, I asked what people thought of Purpose; the idea that we each have a single Purpose. I received truly lovely feedback, much of which was at odds with what I think is the current overwhelming view of Life Purpose, ie:

Finding Your Purpose = Winning Life

I am obviously tinged with a certain ire, if you cannot tell from the above statement, for I believe that this focus on Purpose has been incredibly detrimental for many people, including myself. Rather than helping, I have come to wonder if this search for Purpose hurts people’s psyches more times than not. And why? Because, to put it bluntly, many of us are unable to discover that Passion, that Idea, that Thing that will bring our lives meaning and so we feel that we are somehow failing.

This idea is so huge; so encompassing; so IMPORTANT, I have fallen under the weight of it; as have others I have spoken with, all with the same weary, hallowed-eye look.

Then I realized something, something key:

Purpose is based entirely on Faith.

Faith that there is a higher being; that there is a plan; and that Something is influencing our lives and ourselves.

What do I mean? Well, Purpose must come from somewhere.

God and Purpose

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“And I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me…” (Quran, 51:56-58).

Oprah and Purpose

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become truly alive.”

** HAHAHA! **

Did I just put Oprah and God on the same level?

Only slightly.

I am pointing out that one most have Faith in God to believe His words on Purpose (whether it is a Lord’s Purpose, or the Sole Purpose of worshiping Him).

Just the same, one most also have Faith in the intelligence and wisdom of Oprah to believe what she says as well.

Faith.

Now, I came to the conclusion some time ago that faith is a choice. For example, we can choose to believe that God exists, or we can choose to believe that he does not exist. (Side note, Oprah does exist, in case you were wondering).

Personally, I decided to not make a decision on the matter. After studying for years, I came to the conclusion that there is no undeniable indication there is a God; just as much as there is no undeniable indication that there is Not a God.

It is up to Humans to decide on what we believe. Sure, society and family have key roles in belief a lot of the time… we believe in what those around us believe more times than not… but, it is still us choosing one thing or something else.

Choice.

Faith.

We get to decide.

And I think that is very much the same way with Purpose. I have spent hours in deep and dark depressions because I was trying to find my Purpose. I am not a passionate person (Passion, apparently, being the road map to Purpose); so I do not have anything that I am passionate about. I enjoy things. I like to read… some of the times. I like to watch movies… some of the times. I find archetypes and symbolism interesting… but I would not label those interests as passion.

(Even now, I am tempted to wonder if my interest in archetypes and symbolism is something Purposeful… even after hours and hours and hours of trying to retrain my brain from thinking in this way)

In the end, albeit not as thoroughly as I wish, I have come to the conclusion that Purpose is as much based on faith and choice, as believing in anything. And as such, it is a choice to believe that Purpose is a hyped up term that is propagated to help the human masses feel like there is something more to their lives and the world that they live in.

Or.

It is a choice to believe that there is a Purpose for everyone.

I tend to believe the former; which is bleak. But, it is like a story I once heard about Christian missionaries traveling to the far reaches of  Denmark. The missionaries met with these pagan worshipers as they huddled around roaring fires inside their halls, darkness howling with deep ice and frigid cold outside windows shuttered to protect against nature; and the missionaries told these Norsemen and women that the frozen wasteland out beyond their warm halls was like their pagan religion.

It was cold. Unknown. Blackness.

But Jesus Christ brought light.

The missionaries told them if they believe in the light and the warmth of Jesus Christ, that no matter the hardships of their lives, they would be met with peace and rest in the afterlife.

From what I understand, many Norse decided to believe in Christ.

They chose to believe in something that brought them comfort; and there is absolutely, positively nothing at all wrong with this choice.

As today, in the face of terrorism, and globalism, and most importantly ease of life in the first world especially, there exists a need to feel as if there is a reason for living. Any reason. And that is NOT a terrible thing.

Sometimes people really do seem to find that Purpose. I have seen it; that all encompassing joy in what they are doing in their lives.

Kudos to them (said only with a tiny itty bit of sarcasm).

But then there are the Others… cough cough… me. I start to think about Purpose and I spiral into depression because I am WASTING TIME!

I AM NOT LIVING MY POTENTIAL!

I am FAILING!

So I choose not to go down that path.

Choice.

In this day and age it is sometimes hard to remember that we have choices. When working the jobs we work, we think we HAVE to be there because we have to pay bills, and we have to support our families. Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have a choice when dealing with difficult family relationships, or hard friendships, or illness, or pain.

Trapped and shackled.

I am achingly familiar with these two feelings.

But, despite the risk of sounding trite and new-agey… there is always a choice in how we approach anything and all things.

For instance, lately, the fact that the U.S. President Elect is who it is, feels like a choice that has been taken away from me.  But honestly, I can choose to fight him and his administration by getting involved. Or , I can decide to try to give him a chance, or attempt to change how I view him (yeah, no).

Or I can decide to do something else.

There are always choices. And this, more than finding a purpose or believing in a God, gives me hope. I get to decide how I want to live my life. Sometimes it feels like there is something working against me, but that again is only a belief, a thought, and I can work to change that thought into something more productive, or more…hopeful.

My PERSONAL conclusion, then, is that Purpose does not exist, not for me at least, and that I will live in the moment, not worrying about if I am living Right or if I am walking the Right Path; rather, only focusing on whether or not I am living well, and by those rules that I have placed upon myself… to be kind, giving, and to never cease asking questions in attempt to understand.

And that is my choice.

Be well, lovely readers, in this Holiday season and beyond… and remember, there is ALWAYS a choice.

Non-Existent

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I have come to the conclusion that humans do not have individual Purpose; that there is no such thing as a specific Reason for an individual’s existence.

This goes against almost all new age theory… you know, the Martha Beck and Oprah Winfrey theory sect… but I am fairly certain.

Of course. It is all belief. There is no way to prove Purpose or No Purpose, no more than there is any way to prove God or No God.

Unless maybe purpose is existing and being content with existence. Or trying to find happiness in day-to-day endeavors.

What do you think, dear readers? I am curious to know before I write on about my reasoning.

Where to Now?

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The ever-winding road

Like so many in the wake of the presidential election, as an American, a liberal, and a democrat, I am left to wonder what I should do now. I have an almost overwhelming need to do something, but I am not yet certain what that will look like or how it will manifest.

The irony of this situation is that I have been rudderless the last several years. I have poked around and done different things. Many of these pursuits have been passing interests that have sputtered into nothing at all; others have been gigantic shipwrecks that I am still trying to avoid drowning from (and succeeding at for the most part).

To have a direction, a goal, is something I have searched for, and longed for, since becoming a stay at home mom. Though raising a human being is, arguably, one of the most important jobs in the entirety of history and the world, I (most ashamedly on certain days), wanted something a little different, something that I felt had a direct impact on the world, rather than a secondary impact based on how well I raised my child (though that too is important, obviously).

I wanted to have my cake and eat it too… and as most people with similar situations, I never did much about it.

And then the election. Before the election I would have avoided speaking about my political and ideological views. The flagship of my stance was my avoidance in telling people who I supported in the election and why; however, since the election, I have realized that my voice, though limited to those few I know and the few readers I have here, is a powerful one, and by not speaking up, there is a possibility that I had a hand (no matter how small) in our current political (national) situation.

Therefor *deep breath*:

I support Hillary Clinton.

Not only am I #withher, but I am #stillwithher.

I doubt very much that she will ever again be as central in politics as she was these last two years, but what she does and what she has done, continues to inspire me.

She fights.

When the going is incredibly tough and bordering on impossible, she continued(s) to fight. I know the tiredness that stems from being a woman in a male-centric world. A week ago, I would have never talked about the sexism that I have known and seen my whole life… put on a happy face, understand there is progress etc…. but I am done with that way of approaching this world.

I am done with being a people-pleaser.

Because, I AM exhausted.

I am so tired of fighting against social norms and expectations, but, because we as a nation and world are nowhere near where I thought we were in regards to equal rights for women, or African Americans, or Latinos, or *fill in the blank here, you know who you are*… I am going to keep fighting in hopes that one day I can stop being tired.

Because if Hillary can continue fighting, then, damnit, so can I.

The Yellow Brick Road

But what does that look like?

Therein lies that most important question.

Do I start speaking out? Do I start posting things on my twitter? Do I go back to facebook (after a year away) and start engaging with others… including those whose views are, at times, violently opposed to mine?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am beyond scared to stir the pot. I have read the stories of doxing and that shit is terrifying. I have a young son! The  mama instinct in me roars at the thought that my political viewpoints, or social viewpoints, will be expressed at the expense of my son’s safety.

And then I hear what I am saying (or read what I am typing in this case), and I am horrified. Sickened. Disgusted.

Why?

Because the very fact that I am scared to voice an opinion because of the possibility of a negative fallout is the exact opposite of the very ideology that created this country.

In other words: unacceptable.

Because my message is simple: all humans matter and love trumps hate.

That kind of message shouldn’t cause violence or stalking or internet trolls, but it does… as I am sure you all are aware. Of course, deciding to come out of the shadows is not really doing anything… yet, but it is a first step towards something.

Where do I go from here, then?

I have fluttered on and off of the idea of going back to journalism, in a grassroots way at least. I am a news junky, so perhaps I could take what I am reading, analyze it and put it in historical perspectives. I don’t know if that will make any difference in changing people’s minds towards inclusiveness and understanding, but maybe it will?

Of course, I realize that kind of blogging is hardly be popular.

I know, through interacting with online blogs for awhile, that most people want messages of hope… they want to feel good after reading a post.The uplifting stuff gets clicks, ask any blogger out there. The negative is largely ignored.

Unfortunately, sometimes that feel good moment is at the expense of thinking.

(Ouch. That was hard to write… still haven’t gotten rid of the “I don’t want to offend people stigma yet.”)

So, if I was to follow a path of journalism in the way that I am imagining it, likely, I will lose a few of you in the process, but maybe I will gain a few more. I honestly don’t know. I DO know I want to do something to promote critical thinking, thereby leading (as it always has and will), to acceptance and understanding. That is the direction I want to help our country move towards (after being shown we have such a very far way to go).

The next step is figuring out how my contribution will look.

What about you, dear readers? Do you find yourself called to action, and if so, in what way? How are you doing it? What is your reality like now?

And if not a call to action, what is your reaction to this post 11/9 world?

What are your thoughts?