Yesterday I released this blog to search engines and updated most of my social media accounts to point here. I felt a sense of exposure doing that. My family, friends, and clients almost certainly have a definition of me that is not inline with my expression here. I walked away with a clear sense of trepidation in my ego self. What if people rejected my offerings? What if, worse, nobody even noticed?
This feeling gave me pause to reflect on the definitions all those I know might have of me. Five years ago, I was heavily a fan of horror movies. To this day, a lot of the people who knew me well then still mention that when they introduce me. At that point, I was still vegan and that was often given in the neat descriptions as well. I recently came back to vegetarianism out of realizations in my meditation, along with abstinence from drinking, and those things are now fresh parts of how others summarize me when I’m present (hopefully it’s not much worse when I’m not around). How will it go now, I wondered? I hope they use my self-description as “certified weirdo” if they can’t dig it.
If you’re thinking about trying to break down some of your own ego walls by opening your creativity to the public, here’s my thoughts on how we can both go about maintaining our peacefulness during the process.
Relaxation of Defensiveness
On the level of pride, I expect a bit of inevitable snideness from some people. From my years of being vegan, I know full well that people tend to challenge such things out of obvious insecurity. It’s as though a life choice different than theirs is a challenge to them, an insult to their choices.
One solution to this might be avoiding mentioning spirituality or vegetarianism at all, on the Internet or in person. Even if those things don’t creep into common introductions, though, there’s an allowance for social determinism in such avoidance. Much of our suffering as people comes from fear of judgment, and that keeps a lot of us from moving into new territory. To take a step in that direction, even in business where avoidance of personal issues is the mandate of every business guru of the land, is to deny my growth as an individual. It’s the start of formulating a new habit that would surely eventually oppress my spirit and strengthen my ego self.
Insofar as we can do such things in advance, we should resolve to simply let all critiques and snideness of our new ventures pass with a smile. Our lives flash by in a single exhalation of the universal consciousness, and there’s no better way to spread a message than by example. It’s tempting to try to get people “on board” for that good old community validation, but the simple truth is that there’s almost certainly already a community out there that will understand you while also helping you grow. It’s a lot easier to join new tribes than it is revolutionize old ones.
Removing of Expectations
Another part of new beginnings is a certain sense of expectation about reactions. What if people don’t respond at all? What if this introduces new strain or distance in my relationships? Again with the fear-based motivation. Having failed one way, that damnable pride tries to work itself in another way.
There’s an excellent science fiction book by Fred Saberhagen called “The Veils of Azlaroc”. It’s been a good long time since I read it, but I pulled it off the shelf just now as it’s one of those keepers I occasionally find. In it, settlers to an alien planet are subjected to cascades (veils) from the local sun that “phase” them out from newer arrivals. Over time, people who came before become completely invisible and blind to newcomers. All communication is impossible except under the most extreme efforts, and so generations of people live in the same space without any visibility to each other.
A lot of meaning there, but let’s focus on it as a metaphor for growth. The only way to ensure that your relationships with people don’t change is to ensure that neither you nor the other people change. I’d like to say that’s an impossibility, but of course it’s easy to become frozen in time. I’ve certainly been through a phase of life where I was ageless in the sense that I didn’t grow out of fear of rejection or because of inertia. When we freeze like that, everything new or different is simply invisible – it’s not real.
In the book, the settlers became locked into the planet once one of the time-veils fell over the planet. It was not known if they could leave without being destroyed, having become separated from the current time, and so the old-timers spent eternity with other old-timers looking for amusements to pass the time. When you find yourself looking for an amusement to pass the time, that’s a definite warning signal that inertia is entering your life. But even worse, if you depend on people you already know to validate your creations, you’ll become limited to the highest potential among them.
So no offense to my dear family, friends, and clients – but this is only for those among you who choose it. I don’t care one whit what the rest of you think about this, but I still love you. Or at least still have a passing fondness for you, depending on who’s reading this and how deep my meditation took me this morning.
Ego Discomfort is a Good Sign
Of course there’s a bit of pride involved in my release of the blog. Without confidence, I wouldn’t put my writing out there for public scrutiny – especially on things like personal growth. A lack of confidence easily makes us dishonest. Better to fake confidence if you have to, than to become dishonest.
I take my discomfort as a sign that I’m heading into new seas. It means I’m going beyond routine, beyond the limited circle of my habits. I’ve always admired the courage it must take people to release awkward self expressions out into the world. Whether or not the communication was matured enough to resonate widely, clearly people who do so are not possessed by fear.
What about you? Have you found a way to express yourself? If so, have you released it out into society to see where it might lead you? If you did, where’d it take you? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
Keep on keeping on,