Posts Tagged ‘“ways of being”’

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

The presence of me

May 21, 2011

I wonder where our old ways of being end up after we have let go of them?

We all have habits, attitudes, and personas that we embrace and reflect, calling these features our “personality.” Some people cling to their personality no matter what the cost even when it does not serve them well, but others of us only tolerate our ways of being until something better comes along. Life demands growth. Some of this growth is manifested in physical changes, but most of it is a remodeling of our internal structures out of experience, necessity, or enlightenment. Who we were one moment ago is suddenly awkward and out of place. We discard the facets that no longer fit.

I used to smoke cigarettes. And I wasn’t casual about it either. I was a deadly serious smoker. Two packs a day for 16 years. When I was 28, my life circumstances congealed into this mass of complication that made smoking uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unnecessary.

I was serious about quitting, too. It took me four years and all sorts of experimental new behaviors before I knew I would never pick up another cigarette. I was six months into being a nonsmoker when the realization hit me that I was finished with cigarettes. I no longer desired to inhale smoke and nicotine, nor did I miss twirling a cigarette between my fingers. I knew my withdrawal and adaption to being a nonsmoker was complete when I no longer felt as if I was going to strangle any person who looked at me crossways. At that moment, I discovered that the old wives’ tale was really true: smoking does stunt your growth. I was happy to embrace the new non-smoking me. The me who I became then has lived life in a way that the smoking-me never could have.

But I still wonder where that smoker person I used to be ended up – the one who never went anywhere without cigarettes and a Flick-your-Bic lighter. And where is her cousin . . . the one who walked around flexing her fists and making red-hot eye contact with anyone who dared speak a contrary word?

Are they waiting in some kind of life antechamber for the next unsuspecting soul who requires a method to make it through adolescence? That is why I started smoking in the first place. The high school I went to was more of a teenage zoo where the teachers and principal were sometimes worse than the students. Smoking put me inside a crowd where most of those nitwits did not want to venture. I needed to cope and smoking-me came into my life. Her cousin came along to reinforce her presence. Anytime I did not have a cigarette when I wanted one, the cousin would twitch and snarl until I fed her some nicotine.

I have no desire to ask them to come back, but their absence makes me wonder: what other ways of being am I ready to say goodbye to? And because life is ruled by the third law of Newton’s physics: to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction, I have to believe that there are other me’s waiting for me to invite them into my life.

Okay, this blog is already too long and I have digressed in three different ways. More to explore in the days to come – I need to visit that antechamber and meet me.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass