And it helps if we don’t take ourselves (and our thoughts) too seriously.
If we do, we suffer. If we take others too seriously we suffer. We also suffer if we take everything personally.
Yet we have created a culture where we celebrate taking each other and ourselves very seriously, and everything is personal.
Just look at all the expressions on our selfies.
I would like to see more selfies that show how we really feel when we are not trying to act cool, sexy or aloof. What if we share what we look like when we are sad and confused, or perplexed by how complicated we have made our otherwise very simple life?
If we are able to share the real without taking ourselves too seriously, we may find the comedy in our collective narrative. Comedy illuminates the universal. Comedians hold a mirror up to society so that we may see ourselves clearly, be entertained and maybe even healed.
But for some, it is a heavy mirror to bear especially in quiet moments of solitude when the audience has gone home.
Many of us are suffering silently and we just don’t talk about it. We keep the ache and the hurt hidden and instead post pictures of ourselves appearing to have it all together. We are our own loyal audience, after all.
And when we see these images over and over we create a disconnect between how we feel and how we think we should appear to feel.
We look around (virtually) and see that everyone else is looking like they have it together too and we buy into the fiction. Social media and selfies are not the stage for us to come together, be real and heal.
We need to do this in the flesh.
We have work to do.
The only life we can ever save is our own.
I have moments when I am perplexed.
This is not a new face for me; this first picture of me is from over 30 years ago—same face. I have many faces; you might even say I wear my heart on my face. I believe in honesty so deeply I cannot lie, even on my face. I believe in living our truth and sharing what is real. I believe in keeping it positive. Sometimes these beliefs conflict. I used to practice seeing what was wrong in every situation, what needed to be fixed or changed, and I got very good at this. I also became very depressed.
I have changed my practice.
Now I focus on seeing all that is right, all that is as it should be. I practice seeing what is—with gratitude. I practice even when I am sad or overwhelmed. This is not an easy practice, but neither is the alternative. I don’t try anymore to bury my negative feelings, I feel them and then I let them go. I pay attention to the way the feelings shift and change in me. Just as physical sensations shift and change, our emotions are constantly changing—and so are our thoughts. We are not our thoughts, our emotions or our masks.
We are something magical and awesome.
Somehow our trillions of cells come together to animate us. I don’t pretend to understand it. I don’t need to. I get to ride the wave of each breath. I am grateful.
I am a warrior for peace. I choose to be with every breath. I am not a victim. I choose not to be with every breath. It is a practice.
Breathe it all in. Breathe it all out.“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” ~ William Saroyan
RIP Robin Williams. Thank you for holding our mirror for so long.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photos: Courtesy of the author