The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Mastermind--and Friendship

A very important question arose about friends, and when to "cut them off" from hurting you.  The answer is--INSTANTLY.  You don't have the life to waste.  That doesn't mean hurting them, shaming them, or whatever--although, if you change your habits, they will often ACCUSE you of these things.
there are two separate issues here, which are really part of the same question: How shall we make a better world?  And How can be be the best people we can be?
to over-simplify grossly, we are both light and shadow.  The two aspects interact to create depth, so there really isn't a possibility of being all one or the other--not and stay on THIS level of reality!  Call it a Life drive and a Death drive.  The life drive tries to protect us, the death drive seeks to destroy us.  A problem here--too much life drive, and  we can become afraid of everything, unable to risk.  Too much death drive, and we can take chances that destroy our families and careers and health.  curiously, alcoholism can be, not an embracing of death, but of life: a desperate avoidance of the realities that would cause ego-death, and an attempt to find some joy in an apparently joyless world.  It is very, very complicated--if it weren't don't you think someone would have created a fool-proof, simple philosophy by now?  Jeeze, they've been trying for six thousand years!
Remember the quote by Nelson Mandela?  The one that says the world needs all the light it can get, and we don't have the right to play small?  That comes in here.  Our friends are as damaged as we are.  As we "hang out" with them, we all convince ourselves that we're cool, and doing the best we can, and that this is as good as life gets.  We're anesthetized by drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, food, TV, whatever.  Now then.  If you start to change, you realize that you've been sitting in a cave, mistaking shadows for light.  As you move into the daylight, your friends will fear the fear they've buried--and it's not pleasant. They will try to drag you back, to test you, to "blame you for making them feel bad" and so forth.  In a dysfunctional family?  Just try to get healthy and watch mom and dad guilt trip you to try to force you back into whatever position they understand and feel comfortable with.  There is no end to it, and peoplle will literally drag their loved ones down into the grave with them, attempting to hold onto the familiar and the "safe."
But guess what?  If you can change healthfully, AND STILL LOVE YOUR FRIENDS, while never allowing them to hurt you, BUT NOT REJECTING THEM, slowly, they will come toward the light.  After all, they desperately want to heal, to grow.  They've simply lost confidence.  They've been lied to  so many many times, told to feel guilt, blame and shame about the failures in their lives.  They are waiting for you to abandon them, as they perceive the world has.  If you don't, but simultaneously lose that weight, or stop drinking, or find a healthy mate, or a healthy career, slowly, they will come to you and whisper that they want to know how you did it.  But you have to keep the love connection, you cannot judge them, you have to continue to see the divinity within them, and NEVER see yourself above them--although your behaviors may well be more enlightened than theirs.  Man oh man, is this a delicate balance to maintain.  Yow! YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO SUCCEED, to be happy, and healthy, and sane, and wildly in love.  Then, you are the light that shows them the direction to go.  You become an avatar.
On a much simpler level, the "Mastermind" group must contain only those who are in complete alignment with you.  A single horse pulling in the opposite direction will upset the carriage.  Better to cut him loose.  You can have such a person as a friend, but never in the Mastermind that meets at least once a week to coordinate goals and plans.  If you have no one, then you must align your own subconscious, and jsut learn to trust yourself, walking alone until you have healed enough to earn a place at a "higher" level, with the enlightened souls you will find there.  And let me tell you--they will be happy to see you!  The climb is lonely, and we all lose people along the way.  Have faith.  There will be new friends.  And if your old friends, and family, see that you have moved up without moving away, you become a force in their lives too. 
Want to save a drowning swimmer?  Get your own damned feet on dry land and then throw them a life preserver, otherwise they'll drag you down with them.  And hate themseves for doing it.  Deep inside, your friends are praying you make it.  It gives them hope, even if they can't tell you that.


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