0557 – heal yourself by helping others

So I wrote that last post in under an hour early this afternoon, and posted it on /r/singapore in the hope that it would be helpful to younger folks like me. The first guy who responded to it was pretty mean, which upset me, but he’s since been drowned out by an overwhelmingly positive response.

Which has got me thinking… so what now? What am I going to do next? Where am I now? What have I solved, what do I have to solve next? And I know, as I write that I find myself thinking “life is not a problem to be solved but an experience to be… experienced”. But these aren’t “problems” so much as they are “challenges” or “puzzles”. I think I’ve made substantial progress emotionally and psychologically in dealing with my childhood school related issues.

One way to evaluate my progress on this is to pay attention to my emotions and the physiological reactions I have. A bunch of people replied and PM’d me with their stories– one girl in particular wrote about how a teacher would shame and humiliate her to make an example of her to the other students. That got a bit of a rise out of me. But notably, not as big a rise as I would’ve gotten a couple of years ago. I find myself more at peace with what had happened to me, with the experience I had. I’ve been talking to another friend lately and we talked about something along the lines of– you can’t change the past, you can’t fix those mistakes, you can only navigate around them more artfully. I think I’m doing that.

My emotional high water mark, I think, was when I thought about how many teachers got angry at me, yelled at me, and so on. And as an adult now, I realize that they wouldn’t have wanted to. They weren’t evil or cruel or malicious (and I knew that then, but I recognize it with even more nuance now). They were just imperfect people struggling to manage classrooms of students and being forced to deal with a student’s seeming impudence, refusal to comply… it must’ve seemed like I was trying to make their lives more difficult. I really can’t fault them or blame them for how they treated me. They were doing what they could with what they had.

So. What next? What now? Can we mark that task as done? I may circle it a few more times in the future, but those will probably be casual, comfortable victory laps. What is now is for me to awaken to the now. To fly back from my past and zoom into my present. To awaken to the reality that I inhibit right now, to bring with me the joy and calm and peace and clarity that I have from resolving that bit in my past. My pain and frustration and incompetence has been useful to other people. It has helped other people. I have been of service to them. Now I can be of service to me. Now I can take that next step.

I’m going to get my IPPT done soon and then get back to lifting weights. I look forward to feeling the deep burn of squatting with heavy weights on my back. I look forward to becoming stronger and more explosive. I look forward to taking bigger, deeper breaths than I already am taking. I’m looking forward to graduating from an L to XL in t-shirt size. I think I’m already there.

It’s 1230pm now. I want to finish this vomit and go to bed and wake up bright and early tomorrow and just blaze through the backlog of work that I have accumulated. I want to just sweep through 50 things like they’re nothing. I feel like I have that in me and I hope that it comes out of me tomorrow. And I know of course that this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, I have to pace myself and I have to take breaks and so on. It’s barely been two months since I was in India with my parents. I would like to go somewhere else by myself sometime this year– maybe Vietnam or Thailand– and I’d like to go to New York next year with my wife. That’s the goal. And everything else has to be arranged around that goal. Getting people to take care of the cats, for one. Fleshing out a roster and stuff.

Anyway. I have some words to go, so I might as well psyche myself up a little, that’s what I feel like doing right now. I’m on the right track for me. I’m addressing things that I wanted to address. I’m getting better at writing. It doesn’t always look like it, but it’s happening. It doesn’t always look like I’m making progress, but I am. The thing is to keep going, to keep getting back up, to keep moving forward. And that has been happening over the past few years. I’d like to accelerate it, but I’ve learned that you have to be quite nuanced and smooth about it. You can’t just get super excited and throw yourself at it blindly– you’ll more often than not fall on your ass or graze your knees.

So you have to be calmly persistent about it in a smooth way. That’s what Stephen Pressfield was talking about in the War of Art. The professional doesn’t fall into the amateur trap of taking it too seriously. He doesn’t rush into it blindly, obsessively. He does the work, creates the context for the muse to come, and welcomes her into his domain, and then he just works. That’s what I have to do, and I hope that’s what I have been doing. I think that’s what I’ve been doing.

I suppose the last words should attempt to summarize what this post was about. What’s the directive? Help others? I suppose that could work. Let’s go.

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