I think I’m in love with the electric-heated fleece throw my wife bought me for Christmas. It is wonderful! Especially when it is cold outside like this week has been. Instead of putting over me I’ve tucked it in and around the place I sit on the couch. I come home, turn it on, throw a blanket on top, change and by the time I’m ready to sit down the blanket is warm. It’s like sinking into a soft cocoon of heat. The room and house don’t feel as cold when I am wrapped in the throw.
There are also people and places who make us feel this way. There’s something about their presence which makes us feel good and safe. I’m not a hugger but I love getting hugs from my wife. She’s the type of person who portrays warmth and acceptance. My aunt Evon, who passed away several years ago, was the same way.
In a world which seems to be increasingly divided, we need more warmth, more acceptance, more love. Our crazy mixed up world thinks there are other ways to heal the divisions, start over, bring peace. Truly, only love has that power. It takes more courage to love someone than to hate them, let go of prejudices than keep them, listen and build relationships instead of keeping everyone who disagrees with us at arm’s length.
Warmth. On a cold day in December, it’s a needed and comforting thought.
What is self-awareness? My favorite quote from Aristotle; “The mark of a wise mind is the ability to think a thought without believing it to be true.” The idea is that just because a thought pops into our minds or we’ve been convinced of a thought most of our lives doesn’t necessarily make it true or real.
The problem is that few people arrive at this level of self-awareness. Few question their beliefs, convictions, and paradigms of how life should be, how it’s supposed to work. In fact, for most, it’s the opposite. There’s never a question about themselves and how they came to think the thoughts, do the deeds, be the person in the mirror.
The most important journey each of us takes is the journey within. Knowing ourselves, accepting our prejudices, biases, preferences, and understanding how they make us unique and how they set us apart from others.
A wisdom proverb states; “What annoys you about others reveals the character within you.” The path to self-awareness is first setting aside your preconceptions about everything and allowing the world to just “be“. Each experience, moment, lifetime is a once in an eternity expression of the universe and it’s Creator. Allowing it to make its impression upon you instead of charging into it wanting to put your stamp on it is the first steps into a larger world and a deeper self.
Into Practice –
It happened all of a sudden. Out of nowhere a back spasm that almost brought me to my knees.
Beth and I were outside and she wanted to lay a few brick squares next to the porch to place a few plants on. First we needed to level the ground, so I grabbed a shovel and garden rake and went to work. For about 15 minutes I worked on it and had most of it done until I hit a spot which was extra stubborn. I put “my back into it” and that’s when the unexpected pain shot through me. I stood straight up, grabbed my lower back and took a deep breath. “Ouch!” I yelled and told Beth; “I just pulled, strained something and it didn’t feel good at all!” I suffered through it until we finished. When we got inside I took some Tylenol and before bed Beth put some ointment on my back. This morning it was still hurting and I placed a heating patch on the affected area before getting ready. Its helped and feels like I’ve been carrying a heating pad with me all day.
I hurt my back because I was doing a physical activity I don’t usually do. Instead of taking my time and taking it easy I do what I usually do when a project needs to be done; go at it hard with abandon and giving no thought to the consequences. I’m not sure why I approach it this way but I do know this isn’t the first time I’ve hurt myself and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. My back will, hopefully, get better and I’ll forget about the injury until the next one.
It’s interesting how long it takes to learn certain lessons and put them into practice. Our habits, preferences, prejudices, judgments, points of views are ingrained and ridding ourselves of the negative and replacing it with positive isn’t easy. Truthfully, for some of us, it’s a long and painful process.
Yesterday, I arrived home to find a flock of Turkey Buzzards (or Turkey Vultures) inhabiting my front yard and circling overhead. Immediately I knew there was something dead nearby and the scavengers had found their afternoon meal. Luckily for me, not for the animal, it had been hit by a vehicle across the street.
Pulling into my driveway I sounded my truck horn to try to get the birds to scatter but apart from a few of them fluttering their wings I was mostly ignored. After parking I tried shooing them away by yelling and exaggerated posturing but they remained unconcerned. Their attention was on the meal being served not the crazy man making strange noises and acting even stranger. I gave up and went inside but every so often I would hear a driver honk their vehicle’s horn, rev the engine, threatening to run them over but the birds weren’t leaving until their appetite was satisfied.
Later I reflected upon the birds and the sign they were to me that something rotten was nearby. I wondered if, when we had an unpleasant habit, a putrid attitude, a relationship that was dying, a miserable personality, it would be helpful if a flock of menacing fowl would begin to follow us around. We’d be alerted and understand that the birds would only leave when what’s attracted them is removed.
Unfortunately, too often we’re the ones indulging, gorging ourselves on our cravings, rotten prejudices, stuffed egos, slanderous words, harmful actions, bitterness and self-pity.
Wisdom teaches us that self-awareness and humility are what keep us from becoming prey to, and becoming one of, the scavengers which seek to feast on our souls.