One of the things I hate about politics is the way opponents excoriate each other, then join hands and sing Kum-bah-Yah afterwards. The followers of the candidates seem to take it all much worse than the candidates themselves: note the blog comments by furious, heart-broken women pledging to work against Obama. I have no idea if equal percentages of Obama supporters would have been screaming if the percentages were reversed.
But take a good look at this, if you want to understand something about human nature. And that is that when you look at a group that claims itself to be disadvantaged (and everybody belongs to one or another of such groups) as soon as they can identify their shared grievances, they begin to display the same self-destructive, name-calling, childish, self-centered, tunnel-visioned behavior that they often criticize in others. Blacks, gays, women, the obese, the poor, the rich (!), fringe political or religious groups, parties out of office...whatever the group, they say remarkably similar things. And I suspect that in one form or another, they often end up "burning down their own neighborhood." It's an interesting phenomenon, and as far as I can see, is wide-spread enough to feel universal.
Jodie Foster just broke up with her girlfriend (supposedly). I kind of think that she came out of the closet, found out that it hurt her career, and ducked back in. I sense a similar pattern with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (about whom rumors were swirling, then he started making very public appearances with models on his arm) or Ann Heche. I think that we're very close to the place where people can simply be themselves in this sense...but not quite there. It's like Will Smith not having sex in movies--he is certainly big enough to say "I want it" but realizes it will hurt his box-office down the line. Gays in Hollywood are definitely disproportionate to the general population--they're actually making many of the decisions about what images will make it to the screen. The reason you don't see more gay stuff in movies is because it would hurt business, plain and simple. They're not crazy: they have to pay the bills. But the public isn't ready for that yet. Soon, though...
But if gay men have sex in movies more often than blacks, I'm gonna be seriously pissed, I kid you not. Hell, they already have "Brokeback Mountain"...(although note the moral lesson embedded in the story line: have gay sex, and die. I've seen the same embedded lessons concerning interracial sex for forty years. Can't clearly remember a single movie with a black man having sex with a white woman, where one or the other didn't sustain tissue damage or SERIOUS emotional trauma during the film. Often, death.)
Remember: stress isn't the problem. STRAIN is the problem: stress which has a negative effect on the organism. Before stress becomes strain, there are predictable physiological changes which occur. By learning to relax under stress (disciplines like martial arts, yoga, meditation, etc. do this) you are programming your nervous system with important, generative lessons. By selecting goals in the three major areas, you will run into whatever obstructions your unconscious mind uses to slow you down. Push forward, and you get stress. Keep the stress from becoming strain, and you get stronger. Eventually, you will find yourself on the other side of the barrier. The trick is consistent, flexible action: keeping the mountain in sight but trying this path, and then that one, asking native guides, consulting maps, forging rivers...trying again and again and again...until you reach your goal.
Now, truth be told I know people who really don't need goals. They are already happy with where they are in all major life areas. These people have mastered an aspect of life: to simply do what you do, and still accomplish everything that needs to be done with a sense of grace, purpose, and joy. They are incredibly fortunate, and it is in modeling them that I'm reverse engineering the I.D.E.A. concept.
The question of the day is: Have any of you known people who never really had specific goals, but just Zenned their way into a wonderful, satisfying, healthy life? What qualities did said people possess that seemed uncommon?
Friday, May 16, 2008
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:24 AM