Sunday, February 6, 2011
first day on earth, part one (of three)
i am beginning to realize i don't know how to consciously be open-minded. i'm a tolerant enough guy, sure, the sort who welcomes diversity and embraces a range of creeds and lifestyles.
and yet i am not so sure that makes me open-minded. because isn't the crux of open-mindedness the suspension of snap-judgments, the challenging of facile assumptions, and a kind of meta-cognitive awareness of one's own biases?
given my own definition, can i really say i'm open-minded?
not a chance.
i'm constantly slapping labels on almost everything i encounter. i can't go ten seconds in public without assigning everyone around me into (what i divine to be) their proper caste.
and what troubles me even more is how my ranking system isn't really mine at all. to a large and important degree, my ranking system belongs to the society in which i find myself--a zeitgeist that assigns top value to its most materialistic, most egotistical, most self-centered, and most status-starved members.
i want out.
yet with each passing year, i seem to become more and more enslaved by this mentality. a near continuous monitoring of not only my size and importance in the world, but also the relative worth of those around me.
sure, i claim to be above the impoverished rubric of this particular period in western culture, but then why i am one of it most unwitting foot soldiers? why do i judge myself and others by the very same ranking system i decry as vacuous and life-crushing.
and, simply put, why i am ranking people at all?
something must change, because i hate the way i feel when i judge. it makes me feel small and alone. it makes me feel toxic and cynical.
that's not to say there aren't hours, even days, when i am at my best. when i feel a shared Oneness with those in my community, a true Social Network where i move among people living humbly and gently and for nothing more than the quiet growth of Soul.
it's just, well, i want more of those days. more loving, more openness, more connection to the grid of universal human experience.
i can no longer be the person who prizes (or at least claims to prize) open-mindedness, while also being the most critical person in the room.
i want to give my highest self more of what it savors. i want to meditate. muse. make.
i want to live with greater gratitude in my heart and say yes to the artisanal, the homemade, the modest.
and perhaps more than anything, i want to live the journey and the process for its own sake--not for some result or product, not for some reward or imagined glory.
i want the richness of connecting with the Now to be the most sacred part of day, my life.
if i am to make any real progress toward any of this i must liberate myself from assuming, a priori, i know how things i haven't tried will turn out. because i don't know how things will turn out. especially if i've never tried them. (and even if i have tried them, that guarantees nothing. absolutely nothing.)
here's what i will do: i will experience life--with all its choices and opportunities and possibilities, with all its tests and challenges, with all its creativity and wonder and imagination. i will engage it all with the wonder of child. not to decide if i like it or not. but simply to explore what it is.
and that's what it means to be open-minded: to explore.
to move through the world without the need to slather it with labels and opinions and names. i will free myself from the taxonomic impulse to classify everything into a hierarchy that, irony of all ironies, i feel enslaved by yet continue to perpetuate.
simply put, i take the vow to experience life. not as if it is my last day on earth. but as if it is my very first.