they say that the best chefs know how to season food in such a way that you are unaware of it being seasoned at all. Then again, fashionistas say much the same about the art of wearing makeup – the less apparent it is the better (and yet conversely the more amount of time is spent applying it).
I had three back to back conversations about the same thing today which is astonishing considering that the better part of my day was spent out on a ride with the biking group. One of them occurred in and around the group and then I came home to emails and a phone call that all picked up the same thread. And, since it is something that has been high on my mind of late, of course I thought I would through it out and worry it a little in this space.
There seems to be a popular notion that as long as you “do the right thing” that it will outweigh or negate the things you may occasionally think that are very not right, but don’t get acted on. This is patently untrue. Like an undetected seasoning your thoughts, your feelings, infuse your actions. So while you may have done a wonderful, charitable and nice thing for someone they are left with an unidentifiable feeling of unease, rather then being able to simply accept what has been done. Because the action carries with it the thoughts that originated it.
Like cooking, we cook our emotions into food.
Or trying to comfort someone when inside we are a screaming mess; we wind up agitating them although there is nothing that we are doing outwardly that betrays our inner turmoil.
This is a part of what is called our “presence.”
And you do not have to become a saint to rid oneself of “not so good thoughts” or ill thoughts or whatever you want to call it. You merely have to grow up. What we have to fear most in this world does not come from outside of us at all, it is what is allowed to live and grow within us. We hide behind justifications of bigotry, racism, classism etc and so forth to avoid acknowledging that the only thing and person that can remove our own true freedom is ourselves.
And when you combine ill thoughts with a compensatory motivation to do a good thing – to balance out the turmoil within in you, the end does not justify the means. It never does. We usually only think about that phrase in broad and obvious terms but we forget about all the delicate shades of gray that are within it. If I help you more because it makes me feel good about myself because I do not feel good about myself consistently and by myself – I give you not only my help, but a touch of my insecurity as well. If I use doing something good, because I know it will make me feel good, when I am in a low moment – well, go back to the first three words, I am using someone.
We can only help others when we have already helped ourselves and what we do for someone else has nothing to do with us, but may make use of us.
The difficult part is that you cannot also wait until you have reached that kind of control and maturity before you do anything. But, while you are doing things you have to pay attention to the parts that do not make you feel good. This is what will teach you, this is what will help you grow beyond using people (whether actively or by justification and, to point another thing out, we use people not just by making them responsible for our fear, but for our goodness as well when we identify people as “oppressed” or “in need of” our assistance – people make whole careers out of assigning to whole classes of people roles of oppression and need in order to be able to feel like they themselves are engaged in meaningful behavior).
There is not one thing that we do perfectly the first few times we try it. It is our capacity to learn and change and grow which makes us effective people.
What has become common in this day and age is a confusion/acceptance of passive behavior for active behavior. Case in point that came up today, clicking on the “like” button on a FB page about an issue. You may get 500,000 “likes” but not one person has been engaged with change. In fact, not one person has been engaged. The argument is usually that such things increase peoples awareness of issues but the reality is that our informational awareness, while limitless in our capacity, has nothing to do with our ability to connect to our information emotionally or to form active choices in which to respond to needs.
We always need things that make people think and become aware of things, but we have come to accept awareness and discussion with like minded people or even debate with people who disagree as active participation in resolving a problem.
We all are so multi-faceted that it is a disservice (and I have been a part of it because I have lacked clear enough words till now) to define ourselves in such limited fashions as to say “my role, what I excel at is making people aware of things and someone else excels at taking that awareness and acting on it.” We all have areas in which we excel, but within them also lies things we can do to engage on an active level of change.
No one is just one thing. No one can do everything. But what we can do is so much more broad and capable then what we imagine. We can speak and write about wrongs and then we can go create methods of leading people out of where they are based upon this awareness. In doing these things we can teach ourselves even more, to speak again, to create, to teach, to do and then repeat.
Most people mistake the seasoning for the garnish.
It is what goes into a meal that makes it so good, not how it is presented and served.
c.2010. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.