Posts Tagged ‘outcomes’

The presence of nothing . . . and everything

August 5, 2011

Nothing has to happen and everything will.

This phrase found me in the netherlands of meditation about four years ago. The Taoist wisdom in these words is both a marvel and a dilemma. Its infant implementation into my life currently exists of captured moments when I manage to stand still enough to note that nothing that is occurring in this moment has to happen, yet everything is happening. When I get to the end of each moment, everything has happened. There is nothing left that has not happened in its moment.

I get caught up in control: having to have certain specific events occur so that I can have a specific outcome. Moving past my physical survival and my human dependency upon water, food, shelter . . . all of those things at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I am sometimes absolutely frantic to make a specific outcome happen. For instance, I am always desperate to honor my commitments. I am particularly abhorrent to being absent for people who are dependent upon me for their well-being (I’m thinking children here and the occasional grown-up who has asked for a favor).

Practical applications of control include situations such as driving my vehicle, showing up for work, spending my money, and all that. What “has to happen” for much of my waking moments is that I survive intact, not harm others, do my job well, save for my future – all of the activities we call living. My continued breathing in and out must occur for there to be continued life within my body. But there is no rule that says my breathing has to happen for its own sake. In reality, none of these things have to happen. I don’t “have” to do anything at all. The motion of existence will continue regardless.

There are consequences to both action and inaction. In deciding what to do or not do, we all believe we can control the outcomes in our lives. We have a large history to support that belief. We witness the outcomes in other peoples’ lives, listen to their tales of how it happened, and sometimes apply their methods to living our own lives. That’s what self-help books are all about.

I have been testing the inaction of “nothing has to happen” in my life. Watching people I love stumble through their lives, it is so very hard for me to not interfere and try to fix them or their lives. I witness their behaviors, their attitudes, and I can nearly all the time guess what the outcome will be. There are formulas for success, I want to scream at them. But who am I to know what is best for them? Who am I to guess what their path should be? Some days, I note that even I have not always acted in my own best interests.

It is easier to spout wisdom than it is to apply it. I am working on unknowing what I believe I know. The place inside of me where nothing has to happen is wordless . . . a place where my preconceived ideas and worshipped fairy tales lie silent and useless.

If nothing has to happen in this moment, I am leaving space for something else to happen.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass


The presence of confidence

June 4, 2011

I surreptitiously spy upon other people while they are living their lives. Unknown to them, I survey their actions, listen to their attitudes, and gaze upon their accomplishments. Watching them encounter challenges, I am often humbled by their bravery and confidence.

Some people take on life’s challenges because they have a certain kind of confidence that ensures their success. Success is not necessarily that they accomplish the specific task. Success is instantly measured because that person chose to meet the challenge, regardless of the outcome.

My outcome-based criteria often stops me before I have even begun. For all my life, my confidence has been fed by successful outcomes. I did not take on what I knew I could not complete. Living such a limited existence has kept me from exploring what Joseph Campbell called “your bliss.”

I was called to many things that brought me bliss while I was growing up, but never pursued them because I lacked confidence that I could. I let others encourage me down the path of least resistance.

I blame them not – this is one of the lessons I came here to learn. Other people are living instruments who help instill this lesson. There is a next iteration of my existence and this quality of confidence will be required.

Growing up late in life, I wonder at the luxury of exploring my bliss now. I know what calls to me and exploring what captures my interest is bliss in itself. Exploration often has no outcome except discovery. That discovery can be anything from an ancient artifact to new self-revealing truths, methods, talents, and ways of being in the world.

I am not so confident that I can attach an outcome to my explorations except that confidence itself is now allowed to be the outcome.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

attached presence

July 7, 2010

What happens if you don’t turn out the way you think you should?

Reading today’s Spirituality & Health Newsletter about attachment and non-attachment gave me the thought that I generally relate attachment to material things, events, outcomes, and other people. I don’t often think of being attached to myself. I am not sure it is possible to be non-attached to self.

We are eternally attached to presence – the presence that has always existed and always will. I have always felt that I (as my eternal presence) came to this human existence to evolve, become, learn, grow, and leave being more than I was when I came here. I have my imaginary eye set on a picture of myself being fully integrated as I conceive that concept.

What happens if I don’t make it happen before I die? What happens if I am not the presence I think I should be at any given time? Do I detach from self and give up?

I know that many people try to detach from self by choosing to be unconscious and unaware. Even though life calls them time after time to pay attention to self, take care of self, be one with self, they insist instead on focusing on control of their external environment. They work hard to control other people, gain notoriety, and amass bundles of wealth. Their never-ending goal is continuing to be who they imagine they are and they will go to great lengths to maintain that illusion.

I set my presence aside as I was growing up because in my child’s wisdom I knew it was better to detach from self and survive than to stay attached to the self who was struggling to become and be abandoned and die. I required my parents’ love and acceptance to stay alive and I bought it with self-abandonment.

My eternal presence did not abandon me, but instead remained quietly attached to my soul and occasionally poked me to remind me that I was still alive and that childhood dependency would end. I began my quest to become who I truly am on my 18th birthday. Many, many things in my life have not turned out the way I imagined they would (or should). I discovered only within the past few years that staying attached to outcomes of anything outside of myself cost me dearly and were really serving only as distractions to keep me from paying attention to myself. I have no more right to determine how anything outside of me should be than anyone else.

But me . . . I have every right to determine how I will be in the world and that is to live fully as the presence I always have been and always will be. The wisdom of my life’s lessons is to step out of my own way and let go of the attachment to how I imagine I should be.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit edgy

May 25, 2010

Being powerless makes me weary. Today, this is what stood out for me:

• The ants who insist on invading the kitchen
• The optometrist who clearly did not bother to find out what I wanted
• The co-worker who plays helpless and inept in an attempt to get others to do her job for her
• Whether anyone likes my cooking
• If it will rain
• If my tennis partners will show up to play
• If other people drive safely

I’ll not bore you with the details or the outcomes. It is sufficient to say that I made it home alive and intact.

And the ants are still here, too.

This exercise has made me notice how my mind automatically thinks. I have to focus and concentrate on what I have no control over in order to even be mindful of it. The question for me is: now that I know I am powerless, will I let that stop me?

It could be that I am not all that invested in outcomes as I once was. I will find another optometrist. I will laugh at the co-worker (and occasionally poke her with a stick). I like my cooking. Rain or not, does not matter except when I want to play tennis. If it rains or no one shows, I go do something else.

Other people driving safely is one of those tricky outcomes. I have a constant urge to stay safe, so I drive like other people are out to get me. I am paranoid, untrusting, and always expect other drivers to do The Stupid Thing.

Like I said, I got home alive.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass