Thursday, September 29, 2011

One-upsmanship, even against ourselves

Sylvia Boorstein is one of my favorite guides to acceptance and appreciation of the good sides to life and even to the good sides to problems and disappointments.  Yet, this calm and loving soul explains in "It's Easier than You Think", that when she first started working on her mind and habits, she hoped for very dramatic and special results.  She had heard that a really sincere, pure and adept practitioner would be able to levitate off the ground or literally bilocate.  She deeply desired to reach such a level but has not done so.

One of the gifts of older age is a lowered need to strive, sparkle or excel.  Yet, even mature people seeking quiet inside themselves and outside can get caught up in striving to be perfect, to win, to out-do oneself, if nobody else.  We are struck by comparisons, as in "my golf game puts me in the lower quarter of golfers my age!". There is no doubt about it: working to improve myself is motivating and does often lead to better performance.  But taking an appreciative stroll or reading a quiet book without noting how rigorously I walked or how much I retained can put my mind onto other valuable parts of being alive.  

When I was a child, I wanted to touch my brother last and be the winner of who-last-tapped-who-in-the-back-seat.  But getting away from gamesmanship and from working to one-up myself or others helps me accept the full range of life and its marvelous flavors and scenes.

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