“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear—are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
What exactly is it, that we delight so in fantasizing about all the bad stuff that we’re sure is going to happen? It only causes misery and makes us unhappy, yet we go to great lengths to ruminate until we all but ensure something bad is going to happen! I caught myself imagining how a conversation was going to go with the veterinary office where most of my animals have, up until now, been taken. I really have no idea if this conversation is ever going to be necessary, and, even if it does have to occur, if I’m engaging in right living and right speech, then preparing my speech will not be necessary.
We have now. What is in the past is gone; there is nothing to be gained from reliving it in our minds. Tomorrow is not here yet, and any imagined itinerary may or may not apply, if there is even a tomorrow! Once again, we have now. Live right now; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Some people don’t think public crying is very masculine. I’ve cried a couple of times this week while out and about, grieving the loss of my dog, Pete. It got me to thinking about masculinity and so I thought I’d post a very short essay I wrote a couple of years ago on the subject. Enjoy.
Masculinity is an abstract noun, like virtue, thus it is ever evolving to match whatever qualities society has decided a man should exhibit. I believe the old social construct of masculine meaning tough, unemotional, strong, provider for the family, usually kind of hairy, etc. will probably not last more than another generation or so; it is quickly being replaced, at least in our immediate culture, with a more “metro sexual” version.
Currently my idea of masculinity is the same for a man as femininity is for a woman; that is to say, masculinity is a man’s power to be “comfortable in his own skin,” just as femininity is a woman’s power to be “comfortable in her own skin.” I originally thought being a respectable boy, a masculine boy, as it were, meant being good at sports and beating other boys up, at least this is what I believed my dad and the other boys my age believed. When I didn’t have much interest in either of those endeavors, I figured I was somehow broken, but managed to live with the embarrassment by rationalizing that I was a more advanced life form, like Spock from Star Trek. It wasn’t until years later, at the end of my teens, that, during an argument with my dad about the manner in which I was coming out (that being none too quietly), that he convinced me that the only measure of man’s manliness is his unwavering loyalty to defend his own convictions, regardless of their popularity. In short, masculinity is having the cojones to be whoever the hell you want to be.
Today was one of those days that seemed like it just wouldn’t end. Last night it became necessary to put my dog to sleep. Two dogs cancer has taken from me now. The grief has left me feeling raw inside. I am grateful for the decade of companionship that Pete gave me, but today all I feel is raw. When I finally got home from work tonight I kept wandering around the house, at a loss as to what to do. You see, for the last 11 or 12 years, as soon as possible after arriving home in the evening, I take the dog(s) for a walk. Always. A couple of years ago, Thanksgiving, breast cancer took our Black Lab, Hannah, and it was just Pete and I on those walks. Even though sometimes it seemed more like a chore than an honor, today I’m realizing that those walks were as much for me as they were for my companions. For those who have never had the privilege of sharing their lives with a four-legged companion, it is not something you can explain to them; it is really quite unclear who needs who more. Raw and exhausted and ready to lay down.
I really miss you today, buddy. I’ll try to catch up to you when I can. Love you.
A young lady with whom I work asked me if she could get some advice from me. I said I probably didn’t have much to offer but I’d try. So she confided in me that she had “turned the other cheek” in dealing with an ugly-acting co-worker, but then was upset because her strategy hadn’t caused him to act any differently! She was under the impression, apparently, that “turning the other cheek” was some sort of Holy weapon, sanctioned by God Himself, capable of transforming the behavior of others into behavior she’d rather see.
This got me to thinking about misconceptions. One that I’ve noticed quite a bit of late is in regards to enlightenment. Enlightenment really has nothing to do with being a better person, or a holier person, or a happier person. Enlightenment is only an awakening to things, including myself, as they really are, not as I’ve been told they are, or as I wish they were, but as they really are, right here and now in this moment. That’s all.