Transformation is not a walk in the park… Because your machine, as a rule, prevents you from accurately seeing reality
Why? Because the invisible machine causes distortions in your perception of reality. Your machine shapes your interpretations, your meanings, and with your reaction to those, it shapes what other people will do…
This is where we are in the Playground…
The linchpin, the pin that holds it all together, is revealed.
It is the most dangerous moment in all transformational work.
If you can go through it with your eyes open, then you can go all the way to heaven… so to say.
For me it was in 1987 (could have been in 1985 when I got a first glimpse of it, but it was driven home in 1987) on the fourth day of the Forum.
The question we were asked to ponder was: “Who are you that you are?”
I raised my hand, and was called on (thank god). I said:” who I am is that I am afraid to go out into the world, I prefer to be a student and continue to pile up degree after degree.”
The Forum Leader didn’t even bat an eye. He said: “Oh, I see, you are a failure.”
This was towards the end of the session before the lunch break. Given that I had a history of instability, I promised to report to someone in the back of the room if I had an unexpected reaction to any of the course.
So I went and reported to the person in the back: “I am going to go out and kill myself in this break.”
The person in the back of the room asked: OK, please explain what happened. I did. She said: are you sure you heard the right question and the right answer? I was sure… but when she asked me to repeat verbatim, I could see that while the question was “who are you that you are (for yourself)” I heard the Forum Leader’s answer as saying that I WAS failure, that I wasn’t a failure in my eyes, for myself, but in reality.
I heard my own “who I am that I am” echoed back at me, and there… I could not see myself continuing living.
But looking deeper and more precisely to what happened was exactly what I needed to start living a life where failure was normal… not a life sentence.
What I got in that conversation, was my first real glimpse at the machine and the way it distorts and twists my experience, what I hear, what I see happening.
Obviously a glimpse wasn’t enough to take me to heaven: I had to INTEGRATE that insight into my machine, in effect, design a new machine with brand new moves.
I have found that we, humans, have a very limited range of moves. And whether a move worked or not, we would have to bring curiosity and play to life… that would allow us to look at the results the moves produce, and evaluate them for what they were worth: working, hardly working, somewhat working, not working to the “end” we intended to accomplish with it.
My hunch is that the elusive “characteristic” of successful people is this playful, curious evaluation of different moves, so they are not limited to the few that got stuck and produce a predictable result of “not working”.
Here is an example of one move I managed to play with… and cause a definite increase in my life satisfaction.
When I was young, I was regularly beaten by my mother. I decided that I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of seeing me hurt, of crying.
I never noticed that the less pain I showed the more savage the beating became.
I don’t remember how, but later, much later, I experimented with different moves.
For example, when I was angry, I started to say: “I am angry” and that arrested the movement of the machine… I was neither angry any more, nor the “abuser” continued to do what they were doing.
And then, even much later, I started to say: “Ugh, that hurt…” and that was even more effective in restoring “no abuse” without blaming anyone.
Had I been stuck at the first and only move: I won’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me hurt… I would have, still, the same victim life I had till I was about 50…
There are several decisions that limit the moves of the machine to the ones that never worked…
Our job is to bring play and curiosity to this phenomenon… and start designing a new life, a new life-experience, so Life can be fulfilled through us.
Obviously, at some point I “transformed” this “I am a failure” bit… that relegated me to never risking anything in life for fear of failure.
Play and curiosity creates a new context, inside which your life belongs to you… and if you don’t take care of you: who will?
Here is what has been the most important, and most politically incorrect guidance for me:
From Hillel, the elder, a poem from 2500 years ago:
If I am not for me, who is for me?
And if not now? when?
And if I am only for myself… who am I?
I don’t have a clear-cut one word for what kind of being that is, but
it’s been my guide, and when I “violate” it I am clear why I am
miserable: I caused it for myself. The world pulls against those three lines… strongly, persistently, and loudly. Be selfless, sacrifice your needs, that is what is good… blah blah blah.
Or it is not OK for you to what what you want… you should want what other people want you to have… sacrifice! Be good… blah blah blah
And out of those three lines grows my life… and out of those three
lines I work, I have fun, I enjoy what I enjoy, and have the courage
to tell hard truths to people… while also loving them.