Chasing ghosts, and the spiral of shame

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So I got depressed in b school and kind of wasn’t my best self during that period, and then I went on to live life and even got what I wanted, but I still felt shitty and depressed abou tthe fact I went to b school and choices I made that led me to my current situation that was pretty good, and so I felt shitty and did more crappy  self destructive stuff, and now I feel shitty for the whole crappy self destructive thing, I don’t hate myself so much for going to business school, but now I hate myself so much for the self destructive stuff I struggle to stop doing the self destructive stuff.

A guy who wasn’t my first choice fell in love with me and I went along with it and got attached to him and only chose him by the time I was fully dependent, but then, maybe I did really love him for some time, because we were intimate and I don’t even mean sexually, but yes, because fo the intimacy I loved him even though he didn’t check every box and at some point he was a bit shitty to me but I let it go because I knew he was devoted to me and I still had his balls in a jar which he had given to me , without me even asking for them, although he was still a selfish shitty teenage guy in some ways. I hope someday I forgive and forget the day he told me he was ashamed to see me in a bathing suit in front of his friends and I think I might have still ahd sex with him that day.

Then I broke up with him and he went crazy I went crazy and I fell crazily in obsession with a guy who was really very little but bad news bears. So bad I don’t want to even think about it. That’s a saga I could sadly write a ton about but all I want to say is that it felt bad more often than it fel tgood and then everything the good was just neutral and the bad was very bad. He told me I dwarfed him and I had sex with him minutes later, among many other mean episodes of me wanting his validation and approval more than my own self respect, since I never had enough self worth anyway.

And then a semi decent, not even totally decent, immature for his age but slightly older than me guy liked me, and I turned him into a god because he checked every box and I liked his tats and his height and his eyes and I thought I could save him and he would love me forever. As it turns out, he did care for me but not enough, and i knew he wouldn’t from the very first moment, but I wanted ot believe anyway the same way I believed that a god had died for my sins and was a hero. I wanted him to be my hero. I wanted to be saved. I wanted to save him. I thought he would be the only one ever. I couldn’t believe anyone else would come around. I was loyal to a ghost. Finaly he blocked me in every way when years later, I told him I would come back to Ameirca. In the end, of course I didn’t.

And it’s hard to stop chasing ghosts. I fell in love with somebody, he was the wrong person and the timing wasn’t right even though we had a good exchange of intimacy together and he helped push me in good directions.

A guy who didn’t fit the bill of what I was looking for intervened around this time, and he was withtout a doubt the healthies trelationship I ever had. But that’s nto saying all that much. And to be honest, it was about the sex and comfort, I’m not sure how much of a real connection we had, although the chemistry was off the charts. I admire him, eh is a good guy, but he could have been a little better to me. I guess I felt like I didn’t truly deserve it. I don’t know if I pushed him away too. As usual, it was doomed from the start and I knew, yes, I knew, I would leave in 2 months and so did he, and no, neither of us but especially not him wanted to keep it going, even though technically i’m the one who broke up with him because I think I liked him more than he liked me, and I saw the relationship as more important. Fucker. He is a good guy, he always kept in touch a little bit. And now he has a girlfirned, and he doesn’t want me. And when I told him I wanted him, I was a little scared he would say yes. So funny scared ad sacred are nearly the same word. Bu tyeah, he has  agirlfirnd, and it was easy for him to be sainted at the time.

And recently, ther ewas a guy who maybe could ahve adored me, but you guessed it, not really available at all. Because he works in fucking  i don’t want ot tell you where since there’s not too many people that go there and yeah, even though he was nice and we went to a museum and had the most enthusiastically generous sex I”ve ever had, he is not here. And he doesn’t live heere when he is here. ANd I couldn’t get over the fact that after all of my adventures I might end up with someone who didn’t, at first glance, make me want to hop into bed with him, or make me immediatley bare my soul with him, just someone who made me feel comfortable and beautiful and maybe even a little loved and appreciated, but maybe that’s because he was not as “good” as some of the other guys. Although he is some kind of nobility, har har. I didn’t love him, not at the time, but when he was about to go away I wished I had the chance. And I had sex with him, well, just because I felt like it, not because I was partiuclarly hungry for him, bu tnow I look at his admittedly less godlike bod than some of the other guys I have slept with, and I wnat him, but he’s not here and will likely not be in the future, and I haven’t heard from him two weeks and don’t know when I will, and we weren’t in it for the love anyway.

Mabe he was just a gateway dude to realizing I truly want intimacy.

And recently there was some other dude that would have seemed quite satisfactory had I not had that previous experience. Nothing to write home about in any case, but just a chance to realize that it’s not that the person has abs or even is willing ot please that makes sex nice.

So here’s hoping I give myself a chance at meeting a guy who is present, wants the same things, and can give me that funny feeling in my tummy and earn a place in my heart.

I hope I give myself a chance to find out what real love is.

 

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What does it mean to be a writer?

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A few months ago I finally bought an official wordpress domain and the thing to make an official site and I said I’m finally going to do that travel blog. But I havne’t done too much with it.

The past few months I’ve been looking pretty deep into my soul to ask what do I really want to do and who do I want to be and what’s being anyway, and do we even have immortal souls? Perhaps we don’t, at least not in the way we think, that there is some fixed immutable part of us. Instead, we are the flame, ever changing, only alive in dancing. I think this is an intuition I have had a long time.

I can think of thousands of things I want to learn and do with my time on earth. Perhaps I would like to spend a bit more time with my family. But oh, I want to explore.

And I know it’s in me to want to share everything that’s going on inside me, even if I don’t always have the guts to write about it.

The truth is, I’m afraid to be seen. To shine.

Afraid to lose, not just that last ten pounds I carried for so long, but now the extra thirty or maybe forty.

Afraid to let myself be more successful than I feel I have a right to be, what with my job not being so inherently noble or public service oriented as some others.

Afraid to let myself be loved, although that fear has softened recently. I’m not so afraid to give as I am to receive, but if you’ve given enough times to guys you knew you would never be able to receive from that does tend to spoil the fun.

Afraid to be too intimate with life, with my life. More than anything afraid to unpack my suitcases and say, “this is home, ” since, as Paulo Coelho says, “life is the train, not the station.”

I know I will never be a finished masterpiece. I alway swonder when the universe will pull the rug out from under me again, and I’ll end up in a career I never could have envisioned or on a country on the other side of the ocean. It makes it hard to plan too far in the future, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

The past few years I’ve just been abusing myself for not being enough and for fucking some things up, but maybe they weren’t that big of a deal and whether I realize it or not, I think I have been investing in the right things, really.

Maybe I don’t actually want to buy a house for only myself to live in. Maybe my wings are my roots.

Maybe it’s not the lack of being settled that’s the problem, maybe it’s just the fact I keep on wishing I was like “other people” and trying in different self defeating ways to clip those wings I secretly love so much.

I think as a woman it’s a bit of a crime to love freedom so much, yet at the same time, it feels like self betrayal to want to give up even a bit of that to be a bit less alone.

And I’m not alone. My relationship with my family is getting better and better. I”m glad I didn’t listen to the psychologist. As the coach says, they are only trained to stop you from killing yourself. She talked me out of one form of misery, but she couldn’t teach me to love myself. Or to really know myself.

I want a child or two. I feel like it gets more and more obvious everyday. It seems like a crazy thing for me to want. I’m afraid I couldn’t deal with a cat. I’m afraid I would resent a child, because I am such a self centered person who wants (only) to learn and grow.

I want to publish a book.

I want to travel the world, and not always alone.

Maybe I want a gap year.

Maybe I want to be a digital nomad for a period.

I don’t think I really want van life. I don’t think it’s any more economical than backpacking in most parts of the world I’d really want to go.

If I had a man who would do all the driving and fixing, I would consider it.

And I really, really, really want a man. Like to a somewhat ridiculous extent.

I had a recent encounter that made me realize it’s not really sex, it’s intimacy that I truly crave.

Who the fuck am I?!?!?

I’m afraid of intimacy. To be known, to shine, and be shone upon.

I’m afraid of growing to love somebody that doesn’t fit the archetype I decided I wanted.

I’m afraid of growing to love someone, period. It would feel like less of a choice than the doomed half-love unreciprocated bullshit that has been my specialty.

It has been about three years since my ideal of love finally truly died. Then I re-met someone who I hadn’t taken seriously because he didn’t fit the archetype and hadn’t felt like “the ONe,” the last time, but he had a girlfirned and I don’t think it was ever meant to be.

Just recently I met someone who showed me that all the selfishness I put up with and supposed “dominance” I had craved in a man was just my own tomfoolery.  Probably something to do with the blocage against love and intimacy business. No one ever made me feel so human, and I know it’s an experience I will carry with me for a long time.

Too bad he is gone.

I wonder if someday he will be for me, but I am done playing that game.

And I know that if I truly wanted it, there would be some guy in Paris, where I live, for me. There just has to be.

So I am going on another date tomorrow.

I wonder if this last guy was just another one passing through that was meant to teach me something. That is the story I will tell myself for the moment.

I didn’t feel like I would fall in lov ewith him because he wasn’t my type and didn’t elicit the immediate gut level “want” that the others did, and I wondered if my body, brain, and ego could really do without that.

Bu tnow I want him I think, or just intimacy, or something like that.

It’s even changed my taste in smut.

I wonder what it would be like to really write something and try to make it good, and not just smatter on the page.

What would it be to really touch the blank page, and proclaim “I’m a Writer”

First of all, I wouldn’t do that. I hate those people. I don’t like people who self appoint themselves as writers and declare themselves gifted and who relegate their lives to the telling of tales rather than the making of them. I also distrust the idea of any kind of research or commentary on life for tha treason, becuase my american capitofascist indoctrination had it that those types are not worth taking seriously. And sometimes, I see why.

But the truth is, I never wanted to be a decision maker, and I never saw myself as a leader.

I saw myself as a side kick, or a record breaking smart kid, a scientist.

Not a general.

I once wanted to be the firs twoman president, and then in general I just wanted to do things girls weren’t supposed to do , like be an economist, even if I prefered words to numbers.

I’ve always hated that in myself. If I was a boy I would probably have been a West Point Cadet, or no, probably in the Air Force, that’s cooler, or Navy. Or a tech genius in Silicon Valley. Or an investment banker.

But here I am, and it’s time to own it.

 

I feel like me again

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So long story short some recent events had me questioning myself for the bajillionth time about my life path in France and my self worth in general. I realized, not for the first time, that up to this point a lot of my life choices have been driven by the desire for external validation and while I am living a life true to myself in some ways, I would like to create better alignment between who I see myself to be and my profession.

I also realized today, finally that

Success can only be internal. There is no external success.

You are only a success if you allow yourself to be a success in your own eyes. You must feel successful in order to truly be successful.

You can have done any number of extraordinary things and have received any kind of honor or prestige or money from society but society cannot make you a success. Material wealth cannot make you a success either. Only you can.

I choose to be a success, to feel successful, to appreciate myself, to be grateful for my success?

How am I successful? Let me count the ways:

I am a child of God

I am brave

I am curious

I am wild

I am beautiful

I am kind

I am compassionate

I am creative

I am free spirited

I am authentic

I am strong

I am persevering

I am gentle

I am generous

I am vulnerable

I am sensitive

I am open

 

I am so much more than my grades, so much more than my bank account, so much more than my job.

I am a roaring success now in so many ways.

I live my values:

I learn as much as I can

I am kind to others

I express myself

I live in a place I love, thanks to the grace of God and my own pluckiness

I change my opinions and ways of thinking when I find a better way

I face challenges in order to live the authentic life that calls me

I inspire and empower others to create the lives they desire

I look deeply in my own heart

I have chosen Buddhism as my spiritual path, taking all my openness and self-kindness and real courage

I develop myself through coaching and travel

I trust the process because I trust myself.

Reverse Pregnancy

I am eaten from the inside out
Down to nothing-liver, spleen, ego
Consumed by the dark fire that is She
Soon nothing will be left
Not fear or hate, not anxiety or love
Certainly not that love that is clinging,
For attention, for approval.
No, She is gnawing me down to negative space
Erasing all my memories, all my shame
All the things that made me.

Nothing remains but the pregnant pause
Ex nihilo, the fruitful emptiness
I spring forth
Emerging from a slit in the spacious sky
Nothing but glory, beautiful and terrible.
Being, not belonging.

Neither owning nor owned,
She has come to rule the world,
She has come to surpass it.

Reverse Pregnancy

I am eaten from the inside out
Down to nothing-liver, spleen, ego
Consumed by the dark fire that is She
Soon nothing will be left
Not fear or hate, not anxiety or love
Certainly not that love that is clinging,
For attention, for approval.
No, She is gnawing me down to negative space
Erasing all my memories, all my shame
All the things that made me.

Nothing remains but the pregnant pause
Ex nihilo, the fruitful emptiness
I spring forth
Emerging from a slit in the spacious sky
Nothing but glory, beautiful and terrible.
Being, not belonging.

Neither owning nor owned,
She has come to rule the world,
She has come to surpass it.

Womanunculus

I want to grow down
to a womanunculus
So I can pass too tiny to notice
without springing a single mousetrap called “should”
I want to be born as the child that never saw the light
Lost in the matrix, killed by an itsy bitsy spider
trying to deserve the love that came for free, without asking.

Things I’m a little bit mad at my mother for

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That time you told me that I like going abroad because I’m weird and in France it’s normal for me to be weird because I”m not from there and not supposed to be normal while in the US I’m just weird

that time you told me no wonder I have a boyfriend with all that weird stuff I post on facebook, and then one day once other people started liking my stuff you did too

that time you told me, “I don’t know what you want- you want everything, to have a family and a career.”

the numerous times you told me you were afraid I would be one of those parents who just gave money but not time to their children

that time you told me I must travel alone because I don’t know how to be part of a community and I am selfish

all those times you told me that if I loved you I would have stayed, in so many words

that time you read my fantasy book and you told me you couldn’t understand why I liked it

that time when I was a little girl and I told you I wanted to run away because I felt like no one understood me and you told me I was an ungrateful brat

all those times you used shame to make me be a good girl to the point I still wonder if I’m a good enough person no matter what I do

the fact that you socialized me to be a doormat like you

the fact that I fear motherhood because I might just become a self sacrificing martyr like you and lose my identity

the fact that I filter everything through the way that you think and have probably missed out on great guys or didn’t give them enough consideration because you think that you have to share the same country and religion to be a good match

when you tell me to shut up about my fears about being single forever, because if I can’t talk to you then who can I talk to?

when you tell me it’s normal my best friend has changed completely and given up most of her interests since getting into a serious relationship, getting married, and now pregnant

the fact that you can’t confront people and are passive aggressive adn I go to great lengths to try not to be like you

the fact that you are so good and generous that I feel like a horrible selfish ungrateful bitch to think even one ill thing of you

the fact that I’m almost thirty and I just now realized that maybe you aren’t the person you taught me to idealize you to be, and maybe my family is not as ideal as I was indoctrinated to believe

the fact that you will always be the last person to go ahead and fly my freak flag proudly, because you are afraid of people and just want to blend in and be socially accepted and have no backbone

the fact that I am mad at you just after I am reasonably sure I have your approval since I’m the only one of your adult children who is independent

the way you reacted when you found out I had sex and didn’t tell you. Of course I wouldn’t tell you! It is fair to lie in order to do what belongs to myself.

the fact that you are normally so good that I fear thinking one bad thing about you.

the fact I can’t imagine life outside of your template

the fact that you continued to send me to Catholic school when I came home terrified I would go to hell

the fact that you told me you lovED me so much as a baby you didn’t want to go back to work, although you did because just taking care of a baby was boring and you liked adult company, so you went back part time. What does that mean if I don’t love my baby enough to want to dial down my career?

the fact that motherhood is as close as you ever got to empowerment in your life, that you are only confrontationwith your children and husband and not towards anyone else in your life, and you never got a chance to be an individual because you spent your entire life suffocated by your family

the fact that i feel like a horrible person because I find love suffocating and co-dependent

the fact that you never let me fail when I procrastinated, or let me feel like I failed at anything

the way you explained it away when other people performed better than me to make me feel better and that I shouldn’t expect myself to overcome barriers

your general distrust of management which makes me hate myself as  a white collar person even though this is what you wanted me to be

you don’t have the balls to love me when I am weird and different

you treated me as an ugly duckling and only let it be ok to be different when I accomplished something

you always gave in to my sisters and taught me to be non confrontational and self sacrificing like you

mostly the fact that I fear becoming you so I fear having a family of my own, because if I don’t do it by your rules I will hate myself, and if I don’t do it by my own rules, I will hate myself

the fact that motherhood robbed you of any chance of having a life outtside of caring for others

all of the anxiety, perfectionism, and self loathing you bequeathed me

not modeling good boundaries

not being someone i could talk to without fear of judgment

feeling like you didn’t even know me even if you took care of me without fault|

that your voice is my inner critic, and i feel i have to listen to you to be safe :/

My Sacred Space

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home sweet home. I’ve been trying to write a bit for the real world, both in the form of facebook posts (rather than prolific sharing I’ve been trying to write down my own thoughts) and my more professional official wordpress blog, which I hoped would make me money and has drifted into somewhat artsy posts like this rather than focused and tight writing, although I am pretty proud of some of my meandering essays.

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying an appartment, my gut has said it’s a good idea, or at least that’s the story I’m going to tell myself, for a while, but I’ve found any number of reasons not to. I feel like I want a sacred space for myself, a piece of land I call my own, ideally all my own, before I get partnered up, if I get partnered up, barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. So full of joy when I behold my newborn that I lose all sense of individuality, afraid of becoming my mother, who switched to part time work for a time after I was born, that being said her career choice was in honor of her mother. That’s my mother, a living oblation, a dutiful soldier, someone who gives everything without complaining. I don’t want to become my mother.

It recently came to me that space is not empty like a vacuum, but pregnant with possibility, like an empty womb. Space is the space inside the worm, not a terrible void, nothing like nothingness.

These are the things you think of when you are deciding to be a Buddhist, but o wait, you actually kind of are, even if you miss Christianity and are afraid of going to hell. I’ve recently found a bit of an intellectual out for potentially professing to believe despite the many contradictions of the Gospels and contemporary sources, and yet, is that the home I want to go back to?

God, I love to just riff on random themes. I wish someone would pay me for this, but then if I got paid perhaps I would be blocked, because money is evil and all that. Studies show that when given too many incentives people become less creative. I suppose creation ahs to be for it’s own sake, it’s not a matter of Thaler-esque nudging.

And don’t I feel like such a special person making references to Nobel winning economists. Once, I wanted to be an economist, and invent a new economic system that would lead to greater human flourishing and self realization. I wanted to think of a new paradigm, which integrated sociology and history and humanities rather than so much calculus, which might have scared me more than it should as a perfectionist girl who feared learning by doing and not getting the right answer the first time.

So do I need to indebt myself further, and actually buy a place? How much is it worth to me? Forgoing Russian lessons? Taking one haul flight less? Is it even possible in the next few years? Not sure.

I need a job because I am not able to create value for myself, I need someone else to tell me what to do and that it has value. I can’t just make things, write poems, without direction. I need someone to tell me to organize a party or make a goddamn brochure. I fear being freelance would be more of the same.

I wish I could hold a space for myself, and make something I could be really proud of rather than the drivel I have to do to make a living. Sometimes what I do isn’t so bad, but to be honest I don’t really enjoy being a team player, and I am smarter than a lot of other people, and because I am young people don’t always listen to me even when they should. I am reaching an uncomfortable point in my development, which can also be full of potential, where I realize just how capable I am and how little I am let to do, for fear of me making a mistake, for fear of my potential perhaps at some level. But mostly, because that’s the way things are done. I understood pretty early I wasn’t going to be let to do anything too important, and it has made me a bit unmotivated. Now the world has started to take notice of me, and they want me to do more big girl stuff, which is good but I am still stuck in a fucking girl job and in the end I’m going to do a million times more and not get paid more and it’s still going to be 20 years before I will do anything intellectually interesting. And that makes me sad. And I have to keep going further down the rabbit hole of my industry, which I just fell into my chance and not by choice. so that’s something to think about.

Why do I need an audience to rant? Is it that I am that narcissistic? or self-sabotaging that I risk this falling into the wrong hands. Maybe a small part of me wants to be discovered, told that the jig is up. But I don’t really want that.

What I have really wanted is to avoid moving forward too fast, because if I disprove too much my family and the conventional world’s paradigms of how things work, people will hate me. I will hurt their feelings with my excellence. Maybe I will never find a man, or worse, maybe I will be a self-absorbed workaholic mother who is not really present to her children and jsut gives money instead of time as my mother accused me once.

Maybe I just want to remain trapped enough to have the satisfaction of saying I could do great things if only, and not having to take the risk that they won’t pan out and fail. I am very hard on myself for my failures. In fact, I think I chose some of the most to my mind loathsome failures I could do and did them on purpose just so I could find myself repugnant, or perhaps I did already.

I don’t know if i can’t hear the little voice of what I should be doing because I’m afraid of success or failure. I don’t know if it’s because my desire to be a good girl is drowning it out, or my ego because the dream is too small and not fat enough.

Another thing I have realized during the past few days of being home with the flu, besides that my apartment is a huge mess, is that nearly all of my worry around food is just stupid. It’s something I could deal with pretty easily if I wanted to by changing around a few things. I don’t necessarily need to go full paleo or any of that. If I didn’t have anxiety and strong feelings to soothe and dopamine fires to stoke I would probably be much better. Maybe I should spend the money on learning Russian and Egyptian dancing to satisfy these aspects of myself. Not sure- but then that’s money not going to debt repayment or towards a down payment.

I don’t even know who I am, who live in a very messy flat that has the potential to be really nice, who don’t like anything to do with adminsitration or paperwork or maintenance, to think of buying an appartment. Especially since I’m still waiting for the day that my prince will come and take me away and I won’t have to live alone anymore, even though I like living alone a lot to be honest, and I’m always so relieved after seeing other people to be by myself.

Quoi d’autre? Yes, my sacred space. I think that one other reason I keep fucking up is that it stops me from feeling ready to engage in any kind of relationship. Because I won’t let myself commit before I know who I am. And what better way to stall then to throw the mist around who I am?

And yes, whenever I take that massive action, it is going to push some people away. It is going to mentally and phsycially and emotionally move me. I am not going to be the same person. I won’t have any more excuses. I will be shamed into acting by my own high principles- up, up, and away!

Because it feels safer to remain forever up in the air, and when you grow roots, you can’t pretend you’re someone else anymore.

 

Au revoir for now

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I’m not really sure why I’m not writing as much here. It could be that I am more busy and much less lonely, and it oculd also be that maybe I’m growing beyond fillefrancofun as I had claimed so many years ago soon after I started the blog.

I think a lot of my demons have vanished into a puff of smoke, and while I definitely am in the experience othe Buddhists call “groundlessness” as in, I’m nto really sure which way is up and I have no f not no but not so many fixed beliefs and hangups,

I think with Buddhism I have found what I was looking for, and in France I’ve gotten a somewhat blank canvas to decide who I want to be.

I also think a lot of my healing is done. The scars are disappearing, and there’s a new person here I didn’t know before

A girl who likes mountains, surfing, and deadlifts;

A shrewd non-self hating business woman who doesn’t hide behind self contempt and fake moral outrage over the global capitalist system;

A woman who accepts her past, warts and all;

A single lady, and kind of fucking proud of it;

A person who is giving her gifts to the world, and in healing herself, helps others find their path

A self transformation junkie always searching for the final door who realized at long last that the path doesn’t end and once you are on the journey, you never real come back, or cross the finish line

A seeker who has learned to live, not comfortably, but bravely, in the questions and no longer obsessed with a response

A native daughter of middle class Catholic central NJ who is now a certified wanderer, a global citizen, and who has seen too many tribes to take her own seriously anymore

Someone who has lost her identity too many times to count, plans to lose it again and again, and has learned to find peace and comfort in that

There will be no settling, no final destination, no moment where  I click my heels together to go home. There will be no person, no love who justifies my existence or who comforts me in my existential woe. There is not even a spirit in the sky of a God who hears my cries, nor a dumb materialist universe without poetry either. There is cause and effect, the infinite wisdom of the compassionate heart, the free play of space, and that’s all there is. And to know it, and accept it, is enough. No nothing will ever comfort my sad ego need to know everything, to be in control, to be the center of the universe, to have something outside of myself save me and make sense of everything.

 

Self responsibility is about more than paying your bils on time, and it’s more than taking a leap of faith and accepting the consequences. Self responsability means accepting that even you yourself are a construct, a product of the mind, and that training that mind to do no harm is your highest duty.

Yes, to live a full life on earth, even if joy is suffering, to have a full human existence, sparing the less pleasant bits as much as possible, that is something to aspire to as well.

And maybe they are one and the same, the punk rock post colonialist explorer and the blissed out monk neither taking the world too seriously but aware of beauty, inside and out.

This blog was about France, and mostly about Paris. It was about my renaissance as a thinking human being, coming of age in the cradle of post modernism, finding my passion and still being depressed, healing the wounds from feeling different and unworthy, not pleasing enough, and most of all, getting over the existential fear in not believing dogma, but rather trusting one’s own experience.

The sacred is a glorious human invention, and it exists as much as anything. As love, as romance, as glory and grandeur. But like any form of meaning, it does not exist from any objective viewpoint. It exists because we choose to believe in it.

We search for God, but instead we find the seeds, the raw material beauty in a pit filled with offal. We look at the stars, at Van Gogh’s starry night, and we know we are here, and that’s it, and know we are neither alone nor is the mystery and grandeur of the universe something that comes in a box. God cannot be separate from His Creation- as we created God he created us.

Yes this world is an illusion, and full of pain and suffering and maddening impermanence, but i is the free play of space, and so are we. And I love it, in open hearted surrender, knowing my heart will be broken again and again, that the ground will shift beneath my feet, that every castle is built on sand, that one desire will always succeed another- I will keep climbing mountains just because they are there and I want to know what’s on the other side, I will keep spinning the globe and going to wear my finger points, that once every calling is answered, every Grail Quest is completed, another will spring up like a mushroom in its place. I will russle up the courage to create even though today’s creation might seem like crap tomorrow and will never in any case match all that I imagined.

I surrender to the creative process of life, the joy of connection, and the bliss of the journey.

 

Namaste and thank you for following me.

 

 

On Growth

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When you always strive for the path of greatest growth and possibility, there are bound to be some growing pains at times, particularly if the hunger for growth is not accompanied by the patience and self compassion of a growth mindset.

A growth mindset, if you are not familiar with the term, is about believe it’s not about innate potential, it’s about deliberate practice and learning from your mistakes. And the fact you don’t get it on the first try doesn’t mean that you never will.

I have never had a growth mindset or that much kindness for myself. For a long time, I’ve struggled with all-or-nothing thinking and also the belief that I am no more than my successes, that I don’t have any worth outside fo that.

I believe the past approximiately five years of struggling with depression in various forms and amounts is a pretty clear picture of the end result of that. if my choices didn’t lead to roaring success and happiness on the first try, and if I fucked up one bit, I blamed myself and believed I was no good, which just created a vicious cycle of mistakes I watched almost as a bystander and I couldn’t take my foot off the gas pedal watching myself self sabotage. I also felt I just didn’t deserve so many good things given that I didn’t take the riskiest most fantastical route to success, I made soem strategic accomodations to practicality, that made  me feel like a sell-out of the first degree.   I then fantasized about all kinds of ways to escape and made escaping my mind and its gloom a first priority over self care, self love, and self respect.

That meant eating food that didn’t nourish me, spending money I didn’t have for moments of temproary relief, blocking myself off from the possibility of a real love relationship, and in short, believing the answer was somewhere out there and I just had to find it. That there was an ideal job, an ideal man waiting for me, that once I found myself all would ecome clear.

And as I understood myself, I felt more and more trapped by my previous decisions. With the self knowledge I have now, I am not entirely certain I would have made the same choices- but then, isn’t that how I learned who I was? To an extent, no amount of navel gazing could have  saved me, but on the same hand, I had such fixed ideas about who I was and who I should be that blocked me from envisioning those possibilities. And let’s face it, my mistakes have given me strength, experience, and wisdom I wouldn’t have had if I had gotten it “right,” on the first try. If I was some kind of explorer journalist or travel blogger, I would not have the lived experiences of being in business which for good or bad defines so much of our world. I don’t know if I could have had such wisdom if I had gone straight into a communications or education focused career. My greatest weakness or worst mistake in my mind will set me apart- I am a lot more than a communicator or explorer, I am a decision maker and a leader and will have learend the highest arts of persuasion adn a damn good bit of how the world works.

So long story short maybe I am not a dirty sellout who doesn’t deserve true happiness and maybe I should stop being so hard on myself. Even all the debris created by my depression is nothing compared to the person I have become. And I believe, though I could be wrong, that with the beliefs I held, there was no possible outcome but depression. It was my very strength and willingness to be hard on myself that drove me into the ground. If I was an inch less of a rigid person, I would not have suffered quite so much. And thorugh this, I learned the suffering comes from the mind.

Which is a priceless insight and the only one that can lead to enlightenment.

In terms of the Buddhism/Christianity thing, I would say they are describing to an extent two different things. Buddhism is taking about the mind and awareness, which we can observe. It teaches there is no creator god or external savior, that only we can save ourselvs by working with the mind. There is no good or evil, just consequences that arise from our level of awarness of the true nature of things, namely that there is nothing real beyond the free play of space and time and even we ourselves are stories being experienced by mind.  Mind is reincarnated countless times before reaching understanding.

Chrisitanity is concerned with the soul, with a god who has always existed and who judges our souls before death, a god who was loving but also righteous in that the only way mankind who had chosen to sin could be redeemed was through the form of a blood sacrifice, which God made himself in the form of his son. Sacrifice for others is the highest good, and the best we can hope for is to reconcile us to God to avoid eternal punishment and achieve salvation.

So the units of understanding are much different. Christianity is the story of the universe, yes, but specifically our planet and the human race, with a focus on the Jewish nation until the birth of the son of God at which point the religion becomes more universal and less focused on norms within an ethnic tradition dedicated to monotheeism.

One demands very specific articles of faith, in events that happened in a physical place and time of a very supernatural nature, namely the death and ressurection of the Son of God. The other presents a path to deeper understganding of oneself and the universe through the examination of mind. In either case, actions have consequences. THough one merciful forgives sin, good and evil exist as distinct entities, and to serve others one is denying oneself in order to fulfill the will of God. So the most important thing is to sacrifice the self in one form or anything to achieve holiness. In Buddhism, there is no real distinction between self and other, and bad actions arise frm confusion, not evil. Self denial just reinforces the belief in the self, which is in the end just another story distracting from the reality of things as they are. In Buddhism, the whole point is to avoid suffering which comes from this lack of understanding of reality, whereas in Christianity, suffering is a virtue that can lead to eternal salvation through the miracle of God’s mercy.

I think I stopped really being a Christian last year when I went to Christmas mass and was reminded of nothing so much as animal sacrifice by animist people. That being said, I had met many people who mixed Catholic and animist beliefs and practices, which might not exactly be orthodox but both kind of agree that things exist in a solid form. Buddhism is kind of the opposite, pointing our attention to the space from which the galaxies arise. From nothing comes everything, because nothing and something are one and the same- one field of possibility. And there is no thick black line separating me from you , God from man- we are neither shadows playing on the wall of Plato’s cave, there is no purer world beyond this, there is nothing sacred nor profane, nor are we simply matter with no hope of spirit, because there is no real difference between them, both are an illusion. We are matter, we are spirit- we are awareness coming to understand reality beyond the forms.

A long time ago, I thought that even if Christianity were a big lie, and there was no god, I wouldn’t be disappointed that I had did my best to do good things in my life, or even that I was stepped in incarnational Western Christianity which is really about the spark of divinity in man and man surpassing his individual self. I think there is really something to it.

The thing that seems most interesting to me at this point, is that Christianity could be 100% real in all its claims, including the ressurection of the son of a creator God, Heaven and Hell could really exist, and I don’t think that even really poses a problem for Buddhism. Buddhism can let them all exist, and also pass away, because all compound things are impermanent, and even a creator God cannot be eternal, unless that which is called God is rather the field of possibiliy that is the union of space and bliss. I also personally think that there is not really that big of a conflict between a mind that reincarnates and a soul that is judged. Of course awareness will continue; the soul, the story of me, the essence of me that is an illusion anyway, that can exist on some level and then go to Heaven or Hell I suppose. What’s even more interesting is that Jews at the time of Jesus did believe in reincarnation after a fashion and asked Jesus if He was Elijah returned. I think the image of God as judge/compassionate father and human worth as a score card/legal record with the possibility of sublimation if one professes belief in the love of God for man in the form of Jesus and His ressurection, which in a way is a form of non-duality and the union of God and man, is quite interesting. If all sounds are mantras merely for the fact that they exist, why is this any different tahn the Buddha forms one meditates on to gain awarenss? It is an image that can bring some degree of understanding and freedom from selfishness. And I thinkt aht both truths can exist simultaneously, if one drops the Western/Christian habit of dualism. If you can lose your concept of a paternalistic, solid god that was a patron of a particular tribe which to a large degree hijacked him to codify their customs (see Leviticus) and became a universal God (largely due to contact with Greek thoughts particularly Platonism) coming to save Jews and Gentiles alike but still being something of a judge on his throne, and one single, exclusive truth, I think you can have your Christianity and eat it too to a certain degree. Whether its helpful or not for realization and enlightenment beyond it is a separate question.

So those are the things I have been thinking about. I did think I would go back to Christianity, but I think that even if at first I just thought I was a visitor, then a participant observer, my real aim is to believe Buddhist and to give up some of the old beliefs and sometimes flawed ethics. I don’t blame Christianity for my depression, but I don’t think it gives a critical mind a partiuclarly robust hold on things. Everything rests on whether there is that one absolute truth or not. I believe this insistence on knowing the absolute truth of things sets us up for frustration and insantity to a degree, as not eveyrhing is absolute and black and white. Perhaps there is a richer Christinaity than that which I have experienced, but I havne’t discovered it yet. I have heard it said that God expects us to sin and loves us anyway and we are meant to depend on him for forgiveness and that’s how he wants it, which I suppose is a bit non dual, but for me the insistence on figuring out which action is good or bad and trying to figure out the best option has been really hard on me as an adult. Christianity isn’t that kind to business, unless you’re of the sort that thinks God loves rich people and so blessed them on earth because they are divinely predestined according ot Calvinist doctrine, even though the Roman Catholic Church is one of the most successful and long standing organizations on the planet. Maybe I should go learn more from the Jesuits.

As my perspective has expanded from being an ethnocentric American who really believed in eternal progress and that there was one beste way of organizing society and something along the lines of captialism was it, to a globnal citizen, with quite a bit of Frenchiness in me, seeing America as just another power flowering and fading onthe world stage, it has led to a lot of deep questions. And as I’ve realized the relativity of beliefs and just how long time is, the chants coming down from the early Christians who were perhaps in their way, the “deplorables” spoken of by Hillary Clinton, the unlettered masses unable to grasp nuance who were willng to get thrown to the lions for their beliefs, seem much less old when you have been in contact with civilizations much older like that of the Indian subcontinent, whcih also had something that came before and is considered not even that old by some. It’s hard to exist in this kind of relativity if one is holding on to some absolute truth or other. Perhaps the thing that I needed to hear most during business school, which completely tore me apart, was “there are many truths,” from the woman who accompanied us during a part of the study abroad portion.

I think there is a lot in Buddhism that is just ethnic and not particularly that helpful, but I think every religion gets confounded with culture from time to time. And perhaps monotheism to non theeism is an interesting leap for a human like me to make. From polytheeism to monotheeism and from tribal to universal religion are meant to be quite important leaps in the story of humanity, and the accomplishments of Western Christianity, particularly Protestants, in subdoing the rest of the world have been menat to be proofs of its superiority, but now in todya’s world, I don’t think that’s the end of history. I think all things are born, grow, mature, fade, and die. The West is losing power on a relative scale, although I hope some of our better ideas stay and influence the rest of the world and our legacy is not just McDonald’s. It’s interesting that China is takig back its historic place in the world, although my money is that it will collapse in its current form. Maybe the West will come back stronger than ever, and the US will be able to fundamentally adapt itself.

I’ve shared with Buddhists taht I don’t know if I could have made the leap of mind to Buddhism without my experiences living in France, but they said there is something in me that would have called me even if I had stayed in the US. Perhaps. But for me its hard not to notice this part of the story. ANd while I love France, I love that which is not French as well. I also struggle with my identities as American, Parisian, French, and global citizen. As a Buddhist in a way I am not even properly Western anymore. I am a do gooder who got disenchanted in a way and went into business and I don’t want to hate myself for it anymore, taking care of myself is important too.

And taking care of myself is taking care of my own small section of the world, one of the few things I have much power to control or influence, and making the most of the blessing of another day.

It feels good to write.