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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.

1 comment:

Jabiz said...

Wow Ari. Great post. I think we all struggle with the conflict of who we want to be and who we are.

We have known for years that awareness is the first step, but after that there are years of practice of getting it right. We make vows only to break them, but do not lose hope. This is the struggle. This is the practice.

I applaud you for being so open and admitting how you judge others, I think many people do, but hide behind self-righteousness. The best way to test one's open-mindedness is to ask them to critically look at an opposing viewpoint.

Your whole posts reminds me of what I have been struggling with as well. Not sure if you have yet, but please watch this talk:

http://www.jabizraisdana.com/blog/2011/02/vulnerable-stones-of-stones/

She touches on a lot of topics you have addressed here. Mainly, feeling worthy. Maybe we judge others because we feel constantly judged, and if we can escape that cycle ourselves we can continue to... to meditate. muse. make.

Great post. Thanks