The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Naked Selfishness

One of the great unanswered questions of the universe: why is it that children can't wake up on school days, and won't stay in bed on weekends? FIVE FORTY FIVE this morning, Jason is crawling into our bed. Seems he turned his heater all the way up in his room, turning it into a sauna. We let him stay with us until his non-stop squirming threatened to trash the final cycle of my REM sleep (which was actually pretty deep last night, after several nights of lighter, more easily disturbed rest. Yuck. But I'm getting back into the groove.)
Tananarive got him situated in the living room, watching cartoons. I sank back into sleep. Began to dream about my first best friend, Howard Kokubun. A wonderful kid--talented, smart, athletic, a nice guy in every way. Died in a motorcycle accident right out of high school. Howard and I had grown apart by then, and I didn't find out about it until my tenth high school reunion. Somehow, I never got by to convey my regrets to his parents. Drive past his old house fairly often, but still...never went there.
And last night, for the first time, I dreamed that his mother was coming out of the house as I was walking by. I called to her. She turned to me, opened her mouth--

And Jason pulled my arm. "Daddy! Look at this hat!" Sigh. Got up later, and the little munchkin was grinning up at me, totally unaware of what he had done to trash sleep cycles and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for closure. "I love you," I said, ruffling his hair. "I really love you. And you have NO idea how lucky you are that that is true."
I've made it very clear that I consider Scott Sonnon the smartest guy I've ever met in the arena of the human body/mind. Also, that he gave me the missing piece I needed to connect the Hero's Journey and the Chakras into a living, dynamic model capable of conveying truth that cannot be put into words. Also, that we had a specific request on this blog that I point you guys toward his best work, especially where it relates to intense workouts and recovery therefrom. It is with these things in mind (drum flourish) that I tell you he's got a new iron in the fire, birthed from his work with the Israeli Special Forces. I spoke to him after returning, and he had a genuine epiphany over there, a spiritual moment that went WAY beyond athletic expression...but then, that's Scott. He has framed his breakthrough into a new program, and the first sample is absolutely FREE. Scott has never, ever let me down. If you are healthy, and in decent shape already, you want to check this out. In a world of internet frauds, Scott is the real thing.
Over on Facebook, a good friend was alarmed when I said "Don't trust people. Instead, rely upon them to do what they consider to be in their own self-interest. It's up to you to determine what that is." In other words, that you could trust people to the exact degree that you can trust yourself...because your ability to see through people's lies and self-deception will be in direct proportion to your own ability to tell yourself the truth about your life. I think my friend thought I was saying no one was trustworthy, or that selfishness is the only virtue. No, I am not Gordon Gekko (and speaking of GG, have you seen the coming attraction for the sequel to Wall Street, "Money Never Sleeps"? Looks HOT.)

What I'm saying is that we are all controlled by selfishness, yes. But that shallow people think that their interests are served by lying, stealing, cheating others. Sociopaths think that everyone is this way, and just pretending to be otherwise for the sake of a mask. But the deeper you go into the search for your true Self, the more this changes. You start with the concept of Long-Term Selfishness: you deal with people not just for the moment, but as if you wanted to keep dealing with them all your life. Honestly. Value for value. I try to treat anyone at least 1% better than they treat me. As you grow up, you begin to grasp that you need friends, and loving connections. And the only way to create them deeply is to open your heart. As you dig deeper, you begin to see that the divinity you find within yourself is the same as that in other human beings (the African "Num" concept: "the divinity living within me looks out also through your eyes." Or the Hindu "Namaste": "The divinity within me recognizes and acknowledges the divinity within you.") As I have matured, it becomes clear to me that the only motivation for behavior that will survive the actual stress of life is naked Self-interest. The love I give my son, the dollar I give a homeless man, the time I spend with friends, the sacrifice of energy or resources I give to my community...all of it, every bit is because I know that living in accordance with my deepest values is the only way I can feel right within my own skin. That the only way I can expect this world to work is to realize it is insane to expect it to work better than I myself do, on a day to day basis.

Long-term Selfishness, beyond the envelope of my own life. It was here before I was born, and I have cherished its fruits. I will do all in my power to leave it a better place than I found it. In that way, the final moments of my life will be their most peaceful, most satisfied. Every child I make smile is a gift to that boy within me. And he's pretty happy with me. Selfishness is great. As long as it's long-term.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been warmed by fires that I did not build, and I have drunk from wells that I did not dig--freely you have received, therefore freely give...