Life as an Extreme Sport

sometimes the hardest thing to do is practice on yourself

I wrote this a few weeks ago, and in a tricksy move to make sure no one could know what I was referring to without talking to me, I held on to it to post at a later time. Ooo, tricksy.

More seriously, the number of people who read this, at least occasionally, has lead me to conclude that while I can still talk about whatever I want, with common discretion, it might not be a bad idea to blur the lines on continuity just a bit – at least in some circumstances.

Today has been a serious day for practicing loving kindness and compassion.

It’s either that, or burn bridges in a spectacular flame out that I would regret almost instantly.

The problem is, it’s easy to get stuck in circles of irritation, when I’m essentially by myself all day, and the contact I do have with other people is short/perfunctionary. A conversation I had with Stax earlier is a good example of this; by myself, I was just getting more and more irritated (and thank god I didn’t receive certain email at that time, because I swear I would have done/said something I would have regretted, rather than the more patient filing of the mail and not responding). But having to explain a more detailed and balanced picture to her returned me to a better center, where I could see the picture larger than myself and relax again.

Unfortunately, I’ve been alone with myself since then, and had plenty of time to narrow my gaze once more. I know that I’m doing this, and I am attempting to breathe and retain focus and perspective, but it can be hard. It becomes so easy to just think about our self as individual, and elevate our own issues and priorities above the rest. To always think of how you are engaged with others in the world is not an easy task – it requires a sort of self-sacrifice that opens up a vulnerability. Because to do this, you have to trust that those you are opening up to have also opted to open up, that it is not a single sided exchange, but mutual and respectful.

Which is not, of course, to say that the practice of loving kindness and compassion should only be generated to those who will give it to you in return. But there is a hardening that I haven’t yet gotten over, to practice loving kindness without self-sacrificing vulnerability. What I generate and give differs, and it is much better, more intimate and true, if I allow the vulnerability to be there. If I assume that it is returned.

But that vulnerability, tied to imperfection, can lead to taking offense when there is none, to expectations, to a host of problems where the kneejerk reaction is to lash out, push away, protect, destroy.

What does it say, I wonder, that it is such a human impulse to push and destroy rather than be intimate?