Posts Tagged ‘focus’

A self-involved presence

September 11, 2011

I am the most self-involved person that I know. While I suspect that there might be others whose soul focus on earth is me-me-me, I can’t speak to their experience . . . only mine.

And, no, use of the words “soul focus” is not a typographical error. Or a mismatch of “sole” and “soul.” My soul is my focus. Ever since I can consciously remember (fed by some raw, wordless impulse within me), I have asked the universal question: “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?”

For my entire childhood and into young adulthood, that answer was “Make your parents happy!” (Their idea, not mine.) By the time I was 30, the insight hit me – not quite like a bolt of lightning but more like a stinky sock in my face – that nothing in this universe was going to make them happy because they already were: they delighted in their misery, settling with deep satisfaction into that cool muddy pool of inertia. They were, and one of them still is, very attached to their pain. The one that is still alive is demanding daily affirmation of worth through the actions of others. I don’t know what the dead one is doing right now . . . maybe peering over my shoulder while I write this, hopelessly seething with indignant justification for the heinous and neglectful actions that person committed in the name of love. Oh, wait, I need to let them off the hook for that stuff . . . okay, onward.

It seemed to me that many people had been given the purpose of making themselves happy. And other people, animals, objects, and events were supposed to do that for them. So, I figured I would get on that wagon and ride it home.

Fast forward twenty years and the dawning wisdom that – duh – all things come to pass. People. Animals. Plants. Objects. Events. To rely upon the ever-transitioning universe to provide me with steady, uncompromisable (or is it incompromisable?) happiness is a witless expectation. There is only one place where happiness can live eternally and that is within my soul.

I am not finding legions of friends lining up outside my door thrusting soul food into my arms. If my soul is to have nourishment, I need to seek that for myself. If my soul is to thrive and bloom in this existence, then it is up to me to nurture the environment within where that can happen.

The self that I am is very involved in that process, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And I think that the “almost” is an illusion. I am slowly realizing that everything I do, act, think, feel, and believe is in service of the self, creating fertile ground for my soul to flourish. There is no truly altruistic thought or act. I might think so as I help another or know within my bones I would die for a loved one . . . but even those thoughts and actions have a reward for me. I feel good about myself when I can provide for another. The pain of dying is nothing compared to the pain I imagine living without my loved one.

Self-involved is not a bad place – it is where I am intended to be. I must be involved with myself before I can be involved with others. The rules of behavior and boundaries of responsibility seem arbitrary and subject to self-perception, but this is all I’ve got. To be self-involved to the exclusion of the rights and needs of others is a clear boundary that often gets murky in my desperate attempts to reach that golden pot of enlightenment.

Yet, each day a particle of gold drops from that pot into my awareness and some new space of existence lights up inside me. A new understanding connects across those synapses in my brain. I am suddenly more complete than I was a moment before and yet painfully aware of more incompleteness and work to be done.

My self is working on it all right now.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

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Undefeated

August 8, 2010

For the past two weeks, I have been a little distracted and neglected my writing of Eternal Presence. My excuse is that I have been living large in a place where not many people get to play.

I belong to this women’s tennis team and we are currently undefeated. Our record is 14-0. We are a very unlikely collection of winning players. None of us are Wimbledon material. Individually, our records of wins and losses are the same as any other player. Many of us get on the court with various braces and wraps to support our aching joints. We swallow Advil by the dozens and ice packs are a staple in our freezers.

But somehow, we managed to put together winning combinations of players that have simply outplayed the other teams. I am learning so much about bringing my best to every point in the game no matter how much better the other team might be in terms of talent and consistency. Even when it is clear that the other team can and is in the process of beating us, I am learning to be in the experience point by point. Several times, we have come from behind to capture the match.

To keep up my momentum and capitalize upon this experience, I have been playing tennis every chance I get in the evenings and weekends. It is said that to maintain a skill, you need to perform it at least twice a week. To improve a skill, you need to perform it at least three times a week. I am seeking to imprint the feel of winning strokes and volleys into my physical rhythm. At the same time, I want to integrate this incredible sense of solidity and confidence in bringing the best tennis player I can be to each point that I play. The mental and emotional game of tennis can compensate for any lack there might be in physical ability and defeat opponents with twice the skill level.

Translating this lesson into the everyday moments of my life might be more of a challenge because there are more distractions off the court than on the court. Being totally present on the tennis court for each stroke of the ball is a requisite of playing well. I cannot be thinking of anything else in that moment except where that tennis ball is, where the other players are, and how I am going to hit this shot right now. I can only move on to the next moment after I see that tennis ball leave the strings of my racquet. If I start thinking about the next point or what’s for dinner, I lose contact with the moment and am likely to lose contact with the ball as well.

“Be here now” is possibly the best advice I have ever heard. This is the only moment that counts. This moment sets up the next moment.

It is the only way to stay in the game.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of focus

July 3, 2010

Whatever we focus on will grow. If I focus my time and attention on any particular area of my life, it will grow and evolve, and sometimes come to completion and be finished. When I focus on completing written works, page after page filled with words appear on my computer screen, and eventually, on tidy white pieces of paper.

Whether those words say what I want them to say in the way I want them to say it is an entirely different manner and requires a different sort of focus. That is called “rewriting focus” and even right now, I want to go back and rewrite the phrase “entirely different manner” because it is a cliché and I don’t want to write with clichés. But, clichés are a way of getting an idea down on paper quickly before the other ideas that are pushing to be heard and written get lost in the thousand others bumping up against each other. Eventually, I fear my ideas will give up trying to escape my weeny brain and retreat back to my subconscious. By the way, “weeny” is not a real word. It is the second half of another cliché “teeny weeny” which all of us have heard. “Teeny weeny” refers to something smaller than small . . . like miniscule. I do not have a “teeny” miniscule brain but sometimes there are so many ideas clamoring crashing the exits, that my brain often feels “weeny”- incapable of containing all those ideas at one time.

Enough of that already. The paragraph above represents what I have been allowing myself to do for the past couple of weeks: allowing life to distract me from myself. Even in writing, I digress and go off on tangents that have nothing to do with my original thought when I sat down. I sat down to write about focus and end up defining slang.

Rewriting a piece often requires that I walk away from it for a couple of hours and occupy myself with something else while I digest the words at some unnamed internal place. The idea is out there captured inside my computer. It went from intangible to digital and will be tangible when I print it out on paper.

What is important to rewriting is the empty space inside me reserved for that particular piece of writing. If I focus on that empty space, more of that idea will grow there. The writing becomes more of itself. To get to the empty space, I must sit down at regular intervals and visit with my words outside of myself . . . whether I “want” to or not regardless of whether now is a “good” time or not.

If I wait for the right mood to strike to write, I will be waiting forever. And all those ideas will go off to find someone else who will write about them.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Unsettled presence

May 14, 2010

I am an unsettled presence. Sitting still and focusing have been particularly out of reach these past few days. Lots of life odds and ends clamor for my attention and taking care of the details of my life feels a lot like what I imagine herding cats feels like. I get one set on a specific direction, but then as soon as I focus on another, off the first one goes chasing some imaginary piece of lint dancing in the breeze.

Somebody is happy in here chasing those invented curiosities. 

Some part of me must be like the Magic cat – always looking for the next best thing to play with. It is not a new discovery for me that I want to know everything. The new discovery is that I might be inventing toys to investigate.

Today, for example, I am investigating a new way of being with the people at work. My presence wants to view my work place as more of a playground. My efforts at work and their results are a source of seriousity (<==== not a real word but fun, yes?) for me. I think it is SO important but the reality is that everything I do today will be like dry leaves on pavement tomorrow – eventually the breeze will clear them away to rot on the soil beneath the sun and rain and become fertilizer for something else to grow.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass