Reflections

A Coward’s Path?

As the full moon climbs high overhead in a cloudless sky, I find myself seeking clarity once again. Dichotomies abound, and with them the ever-present choices they demand; either/or becomes much more compelling than both/and, even if somewhat less satisfying…

Tonight I discovered something about myself I would not choose to admit: I am a coward. I will do almost anything to avoid a confrontation, especially an angry one.  I know this because I find myself getting most irritated these days with people who will not stand up for themselves.  And I have learned that such irritations always reflect some truth about myself back to me.

There are reasons for my cowardice, of course, and excuses as well, and the two are not the same.  And there are a lot of wise souls out there who strongly advocate against such cowardice.  I acknowledge and accept that I cannot reasonably expect love and respect from others if I do not love and respect myself.  I also understand that I cannot reasonably expect to be accommodated if I do not stand up for myself, because honestly, no one else is particularly concerned with whether or not my needs are met, since that is rightfully my responsibility to see to.  I get that.  I really do!

It is also true that I have seen what damage can be done with impulsive words and actions.  In the heat of the moment, a person may react, and feel justified in doing so to “stand up for themselves.”  And they may well be accommodated for this act; after all, it usually is the “squeaky wheel that gets the oil.”  But my experience teaches me that words once spoken cannot be unspoken, no matter the reasons or regret, and the same is true for actions that cannot be undone.  While we may sincerely apologize, and attempt to make amends, we can never actually undo what has been done.  And the scars from such impulsiveness are apparent on individuals, family systems, social groups, nations, and international relations as well…

I choose to live a life where I do no harm, at least not intentionally, though that has not always been the case.  And because of that, I must, in a moment of anger, pull back, be still and think.  Later, when the initial heat has passed, and I have had time and space to determine what set me off, I am better prepared to speak of it with an attitude of problem-solving rather than attack or defense.  The problem with this approach is two-fold.

What most often occurs is that, by stepping back for a calmer perspective, I discover that what I was angry about is really unimportant in the larger scheme of things.  Perhaps it merely highlighted some aspect of myself that needs work, or pushed some sensitive button, or maybe what angered me isn’t personal at all, but rather someone else’s baggage that I choose to not take on.  In any case, that extra time renders the anger impotent, and requires no follow-up.

On the other hand, there have been those occasions when time has dulled the heat, but does not resolve the issue for me.  At those times I must, in order to be true to myself, go back and confront the person or organization that did me wrong and seek resolution.  Unfortunately, experience has taught me that, more often than not, such a re-visitation is futile.  Either the person involved has already forgotten the incident, or simply doesn’t care, or they are not particularly motivated to change anything “after the fact.” I hear, “I don’t remember it that way,” or “Maybe if you’d said something at the time…”  And nothing changes for me, except that I am left feeling powerless once more…

It’s even worse when dealing with organizations and institutions who are not inclined, at the best of times, to accommodate any individual; unless, of course, said individual is throwing a fit and drawing unwanted and negative attention to them.  If the person is loud and obnoxious enough, they may very well get what they want as the organization simply tries to get rid of them.  Play by the rules, be polite and reasonable, provide proof of your claim, and you will likely get nowhere; even winning a case in court does not guarantee satisfaction, as you will still have to collect on the judgment (which I discovered is expensive, time-consuming, and frequently unproductive anyway).  But throw a temper tantrum in public and, right or wrong, deservedly or not, you will likely get what you demand.  And I am left feeling powerless once again…

My training tells me there must be a balance point between these two extremes, a place where I can get those important needs met without devolving into some vicious, self-centered, attention-seeking monster, but I have yet to find it.  Instead, I have had to accept, over and over again, that I am powerless to change other people, that I am powerless to change the world.  I can choose to act out, to be the squeaky wheel, and I have done so on a few occasions, when my anger and frustration vented outward onto others; and on those occasions, I have often gotten what I demanded.  However, the guilt and shame I felt after that initial glow of success robbed me of my sense of triumph, leaving me embarrassed and unable to enjoy whatever concessions I had “won.”

So I find myself more often choosing to do nothing.  I mean, if it is important enough to me to act, I will try to get satisfaction, but I do so without much expectation of success.  Because I have found that while I can certainly enjoy any concessions earned this way, I find others are much less likely to honor them in the long run; even the best intentioned will “forget” after the initial agreement if they are not motivated by profound love or fear.  And as a gentle, compassionate, pacifist coward, I do not often engender either extreme of “respect.”

So what can I do?  I do not wish to be a coward, and yet I know that I must live with myself whatever I choose.  And so it seems to me the coward’s path is the one that most enables me to maintain my dignity and my integrity, even though it costs me much…

And while I acknowledge this about myself, the moon moves steadily across the night sky, revealing much but changing little…

 

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15 thoughts on “A Coward’s Path?

  1. rawgod says:

    Cowardice is bravery, misunderstood. Cowards have to face their lives, while heros often give their lives away for a moment’s fame. Who made the harder choice? In our universe the reset button is always an option, but it is harder go “not” use it than to use it. In my opinion there can be no reason to use the reset button short of a machine-controlled carcass. As long as I can think I am, I am. But that is just my opinion…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting perspective that sheds new light on an old dilemma. Why, indeed, do we elevate the actions of those who act impulsively for limited, short-term dramatic results, over those with determination, perseverance, and a long-term plan that includes “suffering for a cause”? Hmm…

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      • rawgod says:

        We love flash. We respect heroism. We disdain non-action. It’s what the Others desire, because they are too scared to do it themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm… and here you had me thinking it was the inactive ones who were more courageous, only to flip back to popular opinion. Fear can be immobilizing, true, but such immobilization may yet be the wiser course. All things in balance and moderation, accepting that each situation has a unique set of solutions inherent within it. Wisdom comes from being able to decipher the most useful course of action, given the goals one wants to achieve…

        But I believe you may have already stated something similar, if not here, then elsewhere… 😀

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      • rawgod says:

        Oops, wasn’t backtracking. I was using the Other “We,” meaning most humans. By our nature, you, I , Sha’Tara and others, are not included in that Other “We,” unless we are playing that part at the time. My apologies for not writing clearly, I’ll take courageous inactivity over momentary heroism anytime…

        Liked by 1 person

      • rawgod says:

        Not what i was trying to say, but definitely could be what I was trying not to say, lol. Fools will rush to bring attention to heros who gave their lives for momentary glory, rather than choosing to glorify s/he who takes the supposedly cowardly way out by choosing life over sure death. To choose a long possibly hard life over a meteoric moment of death may seem cowardly, but actually is the heroic choice in the long run, in my opinion. Whatever is gained by the heroic death is seldom worth the giving of one’s life for it.
        Not that I have ever thought about my own choice to return to this plane as myself when I was offered a new life and body in the death-world as either heroic or cowardly, it was a choice made in an infinite moment and that choice made me who I am today. So, I guess this really was not a good experience to demonstrate between heroic and cowardly acts, but in its own way the choice was cowardly to return to the known life when it may have been heroic to choose a new life, I will never know. But in the long run I would have to say if anything at all my choice was heroic, because I have learned so much about life by not choosing death.
        Guess this can get pretty complicated, if I keep on trying to explain the unexplainable, so I will just shut up for now and see if any of this goes anywhere…

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s uh… uh… an explanation. It reminds me of a joke: We’re sorry to inform you that we have not succeeded in answering any of your queries. In fact we are more confused than ever. We believe however that we are now confused on a higher level and about more important things.

        I think the “problem” here is apples and bananas. There are momentary heroes and life-long heroes; momentary cowards and life-long cowards. It’s not a question of time but a question of mindset and predisposition, perhaps?

        Liked by 1 person

      • rawgod says:

        Very possibly, but truthfully I do not think we can ever truly judge an act of heroism, or cowardice, because we have no way of knowing how the world changed, or did not change, based on that one deed. It is the choice/life debate on an entirely different level, yet it all boils down to the same thing: is an abortion preventing a new Buddha or a new Hitler, or is forcing a baby to be born assigning them a lifetime of glory or suffering? There is just no way to know, and my tablet is about to go on the blink, so, while I hate to stop here, I must, lol.
        Love to all…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am intrigued… given the choice of a whole new (unknown) life path, or a known one with its expected consequences is a difficult choice. You are to be commended, Jerry, for actually choosing, as we often prefer to give that responsibility to some (vague) other. I think perhaps I can relate at some level, though perhaps not directly…

        I know that when I became aware at age 17 (in this life) that death was not an option for me, I made the decision to find and explore “other” lives without leaving this one; it ennabled me to experience different choices without taking responsibility. And it was so “successful” for me that I developed it into a way of life…

        But doing so meant that I could not give my full attention to “this” life, which in retrospect, and in keeping with this conversation, may actually have been the “cowardly” choice, though not in the heroic sense we have been discussing such cowardice.

        As I get older, it becomes more difficult to slip the bonds of “this” life, leaving me feeling trapped once more. And there is no feeling more terrifying to me than feeling trapped…

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      • rawgod says:

        You feel trapped, but I hope that is just a misinterpretation of life on the physical plane compared to life on the spiritual plane. I don’t have your experience(s), so I cannot really comment on them, but I can give you my experience, and maybe I should do that in a new post also. But in the meantime, my choice was not really that hard to make; as I said, it took but an instant. But inside that instant I thought about a lot of things, one of which was my responsibility to my body, and probably to my ego, but since I didn’t really understand egos yet at 19, it didn’t come up in my self-discussion. But this was the 60s, I was still a foolish but “immortal” teenager, and I was playing with powers beyond my comprehension.
        Nor was I the only one! Drugs such as LSD and STP were part of our subculture, and I had heard the reports of people going on trips and not coming back, leaving their bodies virtual vegetables–alive but nobody home. I didn’t know anyone personally that had happened to, but I had one friend who had been an excellent musician, but had come back from an acid trip with no understanding of music (at least not the same understanding) and only half-a-mind, so to speak. His parents put him into a mental health facility for three months, and when they finally let him out they probably should not have. But that is his tale to tell, if he is still alive.
        My story was based on his, in my mind. I did not want to leave a vegetable behind me. I had been given this body for a reason, and for all the bad things that had happened to it it was a good body all the same. It was my responsibility, and I could not leave it with no driving force. I had been given the choice of a new body in a new life, or return to this body and go on with this life. I took this one. And while I never went truly insane from this experience I did go through I lot of changes I did not understand for many years, changes that were not based on my previous experiences as myself. One of those charactersnges was a feeling of empathy with The One Life that spoke to what it went through before it ever became aware of itself as a living being. Your phrase All-One that changed into Al–One or Alone only touches the edge of that loneliness, that need for Other.
        And experiencing that loneliness again right now is too overwhelming for me to continue. I need to rest and recuperate…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. rawgod says:

    About the temporary slip, I misread that comment the first few times I read it. You are asking if I had temporarily switched personalities, as you do? It didn’t seem that way. I was quite aware that I had been Jerry, and that as long as I refused the offer I would still be Jerry. But there were things that happened in that instant that I did not know were happening, things that could be at least sharings, if not slips. It would explain why I now call myself Jerry2, having started my life as Jerry0.
    I’ve told others, and you might come across it in my blog someday, but I actually took two trips beyond the veil. The first one was accidental, even though I was trying to go back beyond my mind. After I got back, I had to know if it was real or just a hallucination. That was very important to me at the time, Scientific Method and all that stuff. If you could recreate an experiment, and get the same results, that meant (supposedly) that the results were real. A week or two after the first “trip” I dropped acid again, waited till I was higher than a kite, and tried to repeat the previous trip. Much to my delight I did go back, but this trip was much shorter and a lot riskier. This time I was not given a choice, but was sent back to my mind with a warning I would never survive a third trip. Then I was psychicly kicked back into my body. And here I have stayed ever since. But I was still there long enough to change me still more, so the real succession went Jerry0 to Jerry1 to Jerry2. So it was kinda like being incarnated, reincarnated, and rereincarnated in a very short period of time, all as the same basic personality, but with additions. Jerry0 could never have thought like Jerry1 did, and Jerry 2 thinks nothing like the previous Jerrys thought. The Jerry you have met and are talking to right now is an Other, but yet still me.
    Talk about asking a loaded question, Lisa. Not to make fun of anything or anyone, but, seriously speaking, I may have had a temporary schizophrenic experience or two of some order or other, different yet similar to you.
    Is that what you were sensing when you asked if I had slipped into an’Other? Wow! This could be mind blowing!!!

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