February 17, 2009

How Do You Love a Self that Doesn't Exist?

My past is coming back to haunt me, or, at least, Facebook stalk me. Recently, several of my old high school classmates have friended me on Facebook. Not wanting to be rude, I returned the friending. It's somewhat surreal considering I never stayed in touch with any of them after high school. I don't really know why they'd want to be friends with me, Facebook or otherwise. We all went our separate ways. Well, I did anyway. As far as I can tell, most of them are still in touch. They're getting married, getting divorced, having babies. Most of them are still in the same small town we went to high school in, or they've moved ten miles down the road to the big city of Omaha.

One of them caught me on chat the other night. "Married? Children?" she asked. "Nope and nope," I answered, then promptly turned the conversation to something I knew she'd be able to keep up on her own, her five year old son. Parents do seem to like to talk about their kids. I get it. I like to talk about my pets. I figure I'll be completely incorrigible if I ever do have a kid. When she wound down on her little boy, she asked where I was and what I was doing. You would have thought grad school was synonymous with the federal penitentiary (which I sometimes wonder about, myself). She then had to let me know which of our former posse were married, getting married, or having/had kids.

So here's the questions: Am I sublimating to think she (all of them really) would judge me a failure for my lack of a husband (ex or otherwise) or kid to my name? Is it her, society a large, or just me? And please what can I do to get rid of this niggling sense of superiority for actually doing something with my life? It's the kind of feeling I don't even want to admit to having - that completely unbalanced, ego-centric, prejudiced, false, absolutely undeniable sense of superiority that simultaneously makes me feel about has worthy of the stuff my cat leaves behind in her litter box. Sometimes I marvel at the ability for contradiction that can be found in the human nature. It gives us irony, satire, idealism and realism together, but sometimes, apparently, it just kicks our ass.

I'm scowling at my computer right now like it's a suspect sitting across the dimly-lit, metal table from me in some top-rated cop drama and if I just look at it dirty enough it will spit out the answers. Like it's some miscreant kid who will admit it was all a joke, a put on, and absolve me of my sins. Not bloody likely.

Oh, let it go, Monica, just let it go. I scrub my face with my hands. Enough with the storyline. No more thinking of all the ways you're better than them or all the ways you've failed as a woman. But that doesn't make those feelings go away. That's just denial, right? But if I think about, it buy into the storyline, right?

Present moment, present moment. No self, no self. In the present moment I'm not a failure or a success. There is no self to be a failure, no self to be a success. Oh, hey, "I Need Your Love So Bad" (B.B. King & Sheryl Crow), I love this song - and I do need my love so bad. No success, no failure, no self. Just love, maybe? Nothing to love, nothing not to love.

Can love just be without subject or object?


Konchog said...

Know what else is surreal? That "friend" has become a verb. There are certain things I Will Not Do. Facebook is one of 'em.

"Superior" and "inferior" are just concepts. In our nature, we're all the same. Check Shantideva, "Way of the Bodhisattva," Ch. 8 for an entertainingly thorough and practical discussion of this very topic.

Jeff Wilson said...

I think if I found myself in this situation, I might react in the following way. First of all, I would remind myself that egocentricity is what the ego does--that is its primary function. So I'd let myself off the hook a little for turning other people's lives into a storyline about myself, and then comparing them in such a manner that (surprise, surprise) I came off better, followed by (surprise, surprise) self-centered guilt over that hit from the ego-boost bong.

Then I'd turn to the feelings themselves. If I felt superior to my old friends, I would ask myself "objectively speaking, am I in fact happier--with myself, with my life, and overall--than they are in their own situation?" If I was not, then I would drop any notion that I was somehow superior and remember that different people have different ways of being happy (and judging what that is), and that their judgments of me and my judgments of them are equally useless and unproductive for anyone.

If I discovered that I felt inferior to them, I think I would ask myself "objectively speaking, would I truly, actually be happier if I were living the same life they are living, instead of the life I have chosen?" If the answer were no, then I'd accept that I cannot help being who I am, and that if my happiness lies down a different path, then it doesn't matter what friends or society or conditioning says, I simply am not able to take another path. Which would lead me to drop the fantasizing/agonizing about other (impossible) paths, and return to walking my own, step by step.

Jorge Mejía said...

Being raised in a catholic, very conservative, third-world country, most of my female friends have been awfully stigmatized for staying single after 30. Somehow people seem to be stupid enough to prefer divorced (sad, angry and hurt) young women, or terribly troubled wives who marry absolute losers; instead of happy girls with a solid education, lots of experience, succesful carrers and the determination to pick carefully and choose wisely in every aspect of their lives.

The world always seems to level itself at the lowest possible standard, but smartness is always a blessing. My admiration goes to those who are smart enough to be happy above all things, and brave enough to defend their joy.

wolfie185 said...

Hi Monica,
“Can love be just without subject or object?” According to the teachers it can, it is a high ideal that hopefully with practice will come to be. Whether relationships are intimate or not I can practice loving unconditionally. What I need to remember in relationships is what my motives are, what are my expectations and what is my perception of the relationship? On the other hand I have to learn to not worry about how others perceive me, to quote Lennon “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Your thinking is just how it is right now, either wrong or right, it just is and that is the place you are at. I can’t correct my perceptions unless I identify them, same goes for other character flaws that cause me suffering, so it is good when they kick me in the ass and make me question my thinking and hopefully take corrective action to minimize them. We all have different paths we walk on in life, I started down this path subconsciously when I was young, it was a different path than my priors in small town Nebraska so why should I regret it, I honestly don’t think I had a whole lotta choice in the matter, for better or worst, it is my path to travel, I have had a lot of company along the path but none of the companions where from my home town, their paths are different although on rare occasions they cross, we greet each, make small talk and move along, no envy no regrets.
Remember to breath and also don’t take yourself so damn seriously;-) you are you and you are not you.

Jack said...

You should feel good about your relative self for the things you have accomplished. I'm not married, with children, and have no career. Things could be less fair in life.

d.a. said...

Personally, I don't fight it. I accept that I'm feeling XYZ, and then turn it around, thinking how the other person is probably feeling the same way towards me! It gives me a giggle, lets me smile at my internal drama, and then it's easier to let go.

john said...

I think Konchog is right. There are no superior or inferior people. People just.....are. Since you are a "people," you just "are" too. I think that is a beautiful thing.

caroline said...

love, just love? sure.

The Hawaian healing chant/mantra,
Ha'opono opono is just, I love you I love you I love you, etc...
it's lovely. It steadies and lifts one.