Get Over Yourself

I’ve just finished reading the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  I only read it because somebody mentioned to me that the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” guy recommends laundromats as a place to start for building wealth, and, it just so happened to be in my wife’s audible book queue.  I don’t remember if I put it there, or she put it there, but it was there, it was short, and I wanted to hear what he had to say about laundromats.  He didn’t say anything about laundromats.  It was an easy listen, and inspiring at times, a little hostile at others but overall it covered a lot of the things that I’d like to make sure my kids understand about money – mainly that money is a conversational construct.  This isn’t a book review for that book, however.

Get rich infomercials at night, people blogging and hawking different “new and better” ways of viewing the world, self-help books, Self-help books, transformational seminars, positive psychology and just about anything that involves selling or marketing something tend to bring up an automatic defense mechanism for many people.  I know they do for me.  “Here they go”, I think to myself as they secretly try to not tell me that they want me to join their multi-level marketing scheme which certainly must work for some people or they wouldn’t continue to exist.  I generally tolerate them enough to sort of watch them squirm through the agony of trying to sell me on something, letting them be with themself as a salesman and be with me as a customer.  I’m not much of a salesman myself and I certainly bring up plenty of defense mechanisms for many people, mostly because I can be abrasive, and rude, and disrespectful and fairly focused on myself.  Complaining is definitely evidence of that focus since most of the complaints have a “how the world is affecting me” air to them.

Complaining seems to be something that I’m just thrown toward.  I’ve had nicknames such as “the b*tch” because of incessant complaining about things at places I’ve worked, I think I always feel tired so I’m generally a complaint about that, and I seem to want to control things around me – though I think this is more of a recently developed phenomenon than something that’s been going on my whole life (or am I just conscious enough to notice it now?).  Either way, this post isn’t about that either yet I did want to point it out so it doesn’t appear as if I’m deluded about my thrown-way-of-being in the world.  I got it…I like to complain (usually when things are out of my control).

Something that I’ve noticed about complainers, through this recently revealed view of myself and through viewing other people who complain, is that they’re really committed to something.  Additionally, while complaints often have the appearance of being about me, or about “one”, they often point to some greater injustice outside of the self – and I use the term injustice very tongue in cheek.  Taking the Appreciative Inquiry approach to complaints and finding the “unconditional positive question” (http://portal.kessels-smit.nl/files/02_Interview_With_David_Cooperrider.mp3) to that complaint opens a portal into that person’s deep commitment to something.  That’s not all that this post is about either, the complainers that are committed to something.

What is this post about.  Well, certainly, love.  That’s all it’s all about – Truth/Love/Aletheia.

Practically, what it’s about is my declaration that I’m over myself.  So listen up and get ready to relate to me in a way that may be new to you, may make you uncomfortable, may just get in your face and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, may make you realize what me really being abrasive is like, and may just have you get what truth/love/aletheia is.

Aside from the practical part, the part about me being over myself, this post is about you.  You quiet non-complainers, or super secret back office complainers, you who are so resigned that your complaints are muffled by sarcasm.  You fine people, or even better, sarcastically great people.  I really don’t know what to say to have you be straight, to stop pretending, to stop putting on the good face and start saying it like it is for you.

These infomercial guys, these authors, these transformation experts – why are they always trying to get you to do something?  Buy their product, read their book, take their course…now I won’t speak for all of them as certainly you’ll be cautious and driven by fear (can you help yourself?) and you’ll find some of them to be completely in it for themselves and struggling and miserable trying to fix what’s wrong.  But there are others, some of them out there, that are doing what they’re doing completely for you.  They write, and they promote, and they sell because they know it will make a difference for you.  They’ve done it, they’ve gotten over themselves and proven enough to themselves for their satisfaction that they’ve made it.  They got this.

Let me put it another way.  Recently I came to the conclusion that I’m done “living my life to the fullest”.  For the past twenty years or so I have been living life “from death” – realizing that my time is short here and each minute is precious and in the end they are going to lower my lifeless corpse into a hole and throw dirt on it.  I’ve studied and learned and had amazing experiences and dug deep to fully understand Heidegger’s statements such as, “When resoluteness has been ‘thought through to the end’ in a way corresponding to its ownmost tendency of Being, to what extent does it lead us to authentic Being-towards-death?”.  Then, I’ve attempted to take those learnings into practice and live them and create results “Being-in-the-world”.  I’ve studied being appreciative, and intentional change, and I’ve had plenty of experiential learning.  I declare myself complete.  My life is full. (Don’t hear this as I’m done learning, or growing, or inquiring into – oh, no not that). It always has been and my results indicate it.  Even the failures indicate it.  The truth only revealed itself after I gave up the lie however.  It’s a full life and I’ve done many things beyond what I’ve ever imagined possible.  Still I’m afraid, living within my own constraints.

Strangely, what I’m afraid of now is sounding like I’m bragging.  Being concerned that people will hold it against me if I tell the story of how great my life is or target me to try to knock me off of my pedestal.  Even while I have some really messed up things happening in my life, it’s still incredible.  Rather than buying into that fear I’m going to push it out there anyway, full disclosure, like I said.

My approach will shift ever so slightly.  Instead of living my life as if each day may be my last, I’m going to begin living my life as if each day may be your last.  My last “full encounter” with my Dad before he slipped off into speechlessness is the kind of example I’m talking about.  Being present and with you fully so the depth of our connectedness reveals itself even though our relationship is brief and in passing, or has not been this way until now.  Now, there are times when relating to my own life, and living it to the fullest, where I slipped into unconsciousness…and I’m allowing for that I probably will slip into unconsciousness living your life to the fullest as well.  However, being with you, in your world as if your life depends on it is my purpose.  It always has been – love present and experienced for each and every, now, demands it.  I can’t love you fully until you can love yourself fully and I know you don’t.  It’s why you’re afraid, why you’re resigned, why you’re cynical…it’s why I don’t get any life from you when we converse.

Noticing the truths that you dodge, and the ways that you put up with things, and the ways you’re resigned to “That’s just the way it is” and letting them slip by unnoticed, unmentioned – those days are over.  You want to talk about abrasive.  Now, I’ll do my best to be gentle, and I’ll promise to recognize if you’re just not open to it – some people are a flat out denial that This is it!  I’m ok with that…I’m not going to push it and I have no attachment to your waking from your slumber, yet I’m at least going to let you know.

Why blog about this?  Why put it out there, and annoy people with it via facebook?  Just be that, right?  Here’s the thing about all those infomercial dudes, and the people who want you to come to their thing – the ones who’ve made it – they really just want to share what they got with you.  They’ve seen that there is something concealed, hidden from our view, that’s so simple and so attainable.  So freeing, and joyous and fleeting.  Sharing it, and unconcealing for other people is the easiest way to keep it from getting concealed.  It covers over so easy you see…this truth, this aletheia.  Like cities in the desert in a sandstorm…buried.  The concealed truth is that you got this too.  You’re brilliant, vibrant and can be or do or have anything you want in your life.  I know because I am in mine and I’ve met enough people that are in theirs.  You just have to be willing to let go of the one thing stopping you from having it all.  The belief that you don’t.

You’re going to die, they’re going to put your body in a hole, and throw dirt on it.  Maybe they’ll just burn it to ashes.  What do you want your life to be about before that happens?  Visualize your body vaporizing as flame consumes it…what will you wish that you’d have done?  What are you afraid of?  What are you protecting?  Reveal it and I will love you.  Don’t reveal it and I will love you.  The only difference is, one way you experience that I love you, the other way you’re afraid and unlovable.

With Love,

Ed

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Truth/Love/Aletheia Gets Unconcealed Where You Least Expect It

First off, I have to give props to the Truth and Cake lady.  I was jealous when she showed up on freshly pressed with her pretty pictures and immediate thousand followers after only her second post.  I’d started my blog unconcealing truth two months prior and had only a couple of random followers and then there she was with her cupcake eating pig, pretty face and beautiful words.  Jealous.  I watched to see what she’d put out there because staking a claim to truth is a big stake to claim.  I wanted to be the definitive source of truth on the web.  That’s the thing about truth – it’s truth whether you want it to be or not and nobody owns it.  Very similar to love.

Rian‘s post titled Fail Harder is inspired reading and was the final bitch slap I needed to break me out of my funk.  I’m coming off of two failures that are unprecedented in my life and I’ve been working out how to make sense of them in life and if possible, in the blog.  I haven’t posted in a few weeks, I’ve been having difficulty writing my final paper for MPOD, I’ve been struggling putting together all of the pieces and writing a new policy at work, my life has been occurring as bleak and meandering, and even my recent vacation to St. Martin – while simply fabulous – did not “occur” that way for me.  This blog began inside of one of the failures and it’s been a long and difficult sort of grieving and “making sense of” process.  The other was simply unexpected and really threw me for a loop, threw my confidence off and made me start questioning who the hell I am to be writing about Truth or Love or Aletheia.

Which is why Rian’s post has unconcealed an attachment that I have.  Failing harder is beautiful and describes what I’ve done, where I was stuck, where I’ve been invalidating myself.  (It’s also pointed out that I’m very still attached to the limited perspective that there is a “self” to call my own).  Failing harder is a universal truth, unconcealed Aletheia…sweet beautiful Love.

Briefly, I’ve played hard in two arenas, expecting to “win” or at least expecting to not fail.  (As I type I can hear my ego still trying to find a way out of the first one, the first fail – “well, time will tell”, it says.  “We won’t know for years”, it justifies.)  Which is why the second fail, so immediate and definite, really brought up the shut-myself-down defense mechanism that I’ve perfected since Ms. Hein didn’t give me all the awards that I “deserved” in third grade.

I’m going to focus on this second fail for the remainder of this post as I still haven’t figured out how to be straight about the other fail without compromising other people’s space.  While I am committed to full disclosure, no stone unturned, full revelation and display of my “self” for the betterment of our shared “Self” there are boundaries that I share with family, friends, co-workers, or other human beings in general where they may not be as open and willing to disclose.

Playing the game of Master’s student has been immense fun and I didn’t get into it even considering the scoreboard.  I was so blown away when I saw the curriculum of the Master’s of Positive Organizational Development program at Case that I jumped on it immediately.  Certainly there were a few hurdles to overcome and work out but the decision was immediate.  It was why I never began an MBA program…I just wasn’t committed to what an MBA would develop me as.  But this, man, this is who I already was and I’d get to claim to be a Master at it.  This program would take the block of stone that I was up until that point and carve me up into David leaving me refined and powerful and able to cause change with not only profound logic and theory, but with results and data driven deliverables.

Somewhere around the middle of the program I made a crucial mistake and looked up at the scoreboard and I noticed I was winning.  Other people made comments about grades they’d gotten on certain papers and I just kept my mouth shut.  It was all A’s for me.  I’d gotten a B on one paper but there were other assignments in the class that averaged the grade out to an A overall.  Once I noticed the scoreboard all the machinery kicked into gear.  The assignments started to take on more significance and I added meaning to all of my actions, more care was taken in delivering assignments the “right” way, and some of the experience of fun and love of learning for learning’s sake was worn away.

Fear slowly became the programming language of choice and it started to show up in my reality.  The assignments seemed more difficult, managing “all of life” became more arduous, occurred as difficult, things started to show up in the space of life that hadn’t been there before.  My created space that I lead a charmed life started to occur as a something to question rather than a place to come from.  Now, a story in retrospect is always a little more dramatic than the occurring, so it didn’t necessarily seem all that bad at the time but there was definitely some undistinguished shaping of the future occurring.  I continued trying to get back to Aletheia, had a harder time being Love present and experienced in the world. After all, I had all these things that I had to manage and control, and I had to perform well enough to maintain my A’s.

Failing harder wasn’t something I was planning.  I hadn’t played the get all A’s game this well, this long, this hard probably since that third grade with Ms. Hein.  I gave it a go on my bachelor’s degree long enough to prove that I still had what had always come easy to me and even had a couple of 4.0 quarters, made the dean’s list, and was happy to know that I could call it up if I really wanted to.  But then the allure of fast cars and faster women took my focus away and I was cool with that.

This time was different though.  This was like first grade, second grade, third grade.  I wasn’t even concerned with the grades I would receive in the class, I just loved the learning.  Ate it up…like truth and cake. When I noticed the scoreboard the experienced world shifted just so slightly based on that experience after third grade ended.  The awards were handed out and I received plenty…I don’t remember which.  Big ribbons for Math and Religion I believe.  First Honors for everything else.  And I was happy.  But then, my Mom would tell me later, Ms. Hein told her that, “He could have gotten some more awards but we had to give some to the other kids.”  That’s the way I remember it anyway.  I was pi$$ed.  What I made up that day was that there was no point in giving everything you had because you weren’t going to get what you deserved anyway.

It was a sort of failing hard by succeeding.

From that point forward my academic effort was lackluster at best.  I’d approach it as a source of Power where I would only give as much effort as I wanted to.  Always knowing that if I really wanted to I could be as brilliant as I wanted to and do A level work.  I sabotaged much of my academic life through high school as a result of that decision made in the early summer after third grade (I made a lot of decisions that summer about people and the world…see other posts, not yet written).  And as Tom Hanks says in Saving Private Ryan after he tells his squad that he’s an English teacher, “I just know that every man I kill the farther away from home I feel.”  Only for me, it was that every time I didn’t give all of myself to any given challenge the farther away from Aletheia I was, the farther away from Self I was.  As I’d give less effort, I’d get less recognition and I’d get more proof that I was right – that I’d never get what I deserved anyway.

Twisted what the human mind does to itself…social constructionism with two idiots.  Your mind and your ego.

I’m an evolved space monkey though and I’d gotten over all of that.  And I’ve given my all to these two endeavors.  In my final semester of Master’s school on the only assignment that wasn’t a pretty much guaranteed A, I got a B.

Logically, I know truth.  Life is empty and meaningless and it’s empty and meaningless that it’s empty and meaningless.  Logic does not make any difference.  Knowing something has no impact on being.  Especially when I’m being “I knew I wouldn’t get what I deserve”.  The beauty of truth, of love, of aletheia is that it isn’t something you can know.  It’s only in experience, in unconcealing and revealing those hidden things that you can live closer from truth.

I failed.  Hard.  The truth and cake lady gives me permission.  Tells me I should fail harder even.  And from there I’m present to Love.  I haven’t met her yet, but I know I’d Love Rian.  But then, I love everybody.  Especially my other Epic Fail.

With Love,

Ed