July 15, 2003

Notes to Myself

Hugh Prather

Notes to Myself

If I had...only forgotten future greatness and looked at the green things and the buildings and reached out to those around me and smelled the air and ignored the forms and the self-styled obligations and heard the rain on the roof and put my arms around my wife...and it's not too late.

Today I want to do things to be doing them, not to be doing something else. I don't want to drive to get there, make love to have climaxes, or study to "keep abreast."

I don't want to do things to sell myself on myself. I don't want to do nice things for people so that I will be "nice." I don't want to work to make money, I want to work to work.

Today I don't want to life for, I want to live.

All I want to do, need to do, is stay in rhythm with myself. All I want is to do what I do and not try to do what I don't do. Just keep pace with myself. Just be what I will be.

I'm convinced that this anxiety running through my life is the tension between what I "should be" and what I am. My anxiety doesn't come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it. It is the tension between my desire to control the world and the recognition that I can't.

It's enough that I am of comfort today. It's enough that I make a difference now.

"What do I want to be in life?" Here I assume a reason for living that is separate from life. So many now believe that their life is headed toward some grand finale. But maybe we are not moving in a direction any more than the world is. The belief that the events of my life are supposed to "add up" causes me to justify my past actions and plan against the future.

The key to having "more than enough time" is to relax. Time is change, therefore I have more time per clock-hour when I am flexible. Rigid control means less time because less change. I can lengthen my life by staying out of doctrines and ruts.

Why do I judge my day by how much I "accomplished"?

Everyone but I must look back on my behavior. They can only see my acts coupled with their results. But I must act now without knowing the results. Thus I give my actions their only possible meaning for me. And true meaning always issues from: "I choose to respond to this part of me and not to that part."

I don't live in a laboratory; I have no absolute way of knowing what effects my conduct will have. To live my life for the outcome is to sentence myself to continuous frustration and to hang over my head the threat that death may at any moment make my having lived a waste. My only sure reward is in my actions, not from them. The quality of my reward is in the depth of my response, the centralness of the part of me I act from.

If I work to an end, meantime I am confined to a process.

The rainbow is more beautiful than the pot at the end of it, because the rainbow is the now. And the pot never turns out to be quite what I expected.

There is a part of me that wants to write, a part that wants to theorize, a part that wants to sculpt, a part that wants to teach... To force myself into a single role, to decide to be just one thing in life, would kill off large parts of me.

My career will form behind me. All I can do is let this day come to me in peace. All I can do is take the step before me now, and not fear repeating an effort or making a new one.

Boredom or discontent is useful to me when I acknowledge it and see clearly my assumption that there's something else I would rather be doing. In this way boredom can act as an invitation to freedom by opening me to new options and thoughts. For example, if I can't change the activity, can I look at it more honestly?

The more I consult my deeper feelings throughout the day, the more I fall back into that place of quiet knowing to see if what I am doing is what I want to be doing.

By becoming conscious of the option my mood sets before me, I am free to decline it.

Perfectionism is slow death. Idols and ideals are based on the past. If everything were to turn out just as I would have want it to, just as I would plan, I would never experience anything new. My life would be an endless repetition of stale successes. When I make a mistake I experience something unexpected.

The key to motivation is to look at how far I have come rather than how far I have to go.

What an absurd amount of energy I have been wasting all my life trying to figure out how things "really are," when all the time they weren't.

There are no absolutes for something so relative as a human life. There are no rules for something so gentle as the heart.

My trouble is that I analyze life instead of live it.

The universe continues to function without my worry.

Happiness is a present attitude, not a future condition.

To be myself means consciously choosing which level of my feelings I am going to respond to.

An emotion can only be changed, but only to a different emotion.

If love is at the core of us, we can add love to any misery we feel.

Forgiveness is the willingness to begin. Guilt is the love of staying stuck.

What I want are words that reflect my heart, not my cleverness.

Fear is static that prevents me from hearing my intuition.

I want to live from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Second-guessing my motives undermines faith in my own mind and leads to a decision to thwart the desire I had. A healthier approach would be to accept the desire and simply seek to learn its direction, seek to clarify it rather than judge it.

Standing in front of the refrigerator: If I have to ask myself if I'm hungry, I'm not.

To listen to my intuition is to identify with my entire awareness, to be my entire experience, and not just my conscious perception. My total awareness synthesizes into a calm series of direction that is above reason.

I have discovered that when I am conscious of the radical unpredictability of the future - even the immediate future - I find it impossible to be discontent.

I am noticing that when I am bored I think I am tired of my surroundings but I am really tired of my thoughts.

It is not always necessary to think in words. Words often keep me from acting in a fully conscious way. When I am trying to figure out how I should relate to someone, usually a stranger, if I will stop and listen to the situation, and just be open, I find that I act in a more spontaneous, often original, sometimes even courageous way.

Forgiveness lifts my curse on myself so that I no longer see it projected on another.

I have two principal ways of discovering the areas where I fail to see myself. The first is acknowledging the qualities in others that irritate me. The second is acknowledging the comments that have made me defensive.

When I criticize another I see my own fault.

I have the choice of being right or being human.

Love demands nothing in return.

Insecurity means lack of self-knowledge.

There is something about compliments that scares me. Part of the reason may be that I'm afraid of getting something that can be subsequently taken away. I put myself in the hands of other people if I let my emotions lean on their statements. Another reason: I am being put on the spot and now must watch what I do to keep them thinking this way about me. Another: There is a part of me that knows I am not as good as their compliments imply. Another: I have often been insincere when saying similar things.

My friendship with Laurel seems to typify a dynamic that many of my newly forming friendships go through. At first we saw only each other's virtues. Now we are seeing only each other's faults. If we make it through this latter stage, maybe we will see each other and truly be friends.

I need to pay more attention to the feelings behind the words. I don't want to listen to just what you say. I want to feel what you mean.

For communication to have meaning it must have a life. It must transcend "you and me" and become "us." To have this kind of sharing I cannot enter a conversation clutching myself. I must enter it with loose boundaries. I must give myself to the relationship, and be willing to be what grows out of it.

Two ways I have of talking "at" other people instead of "with" them are: Talking in order to seduce them into thinking I am right, and talking in order to sound right to myself.

Self-doubt forsakes power, self-betrayal forsakes the soul. I may lose a job, a friend, or my reputation, but I lose everything when I am when I fail to act from what is at the core of me.

Our marriage used to suffer from arguments that were too short. Now we argue long enough to find out what the argument is about. And an argument is always about what has been made more important than the relationship.

My heart loves, but moods have no loyalty. Moods should be heard but never danced to.

A decision can come from strength or self-doubt.

"All I want is to be loved." Wanting to be loved, to be lovable, is not really a desire for how I want to be, but for how I want others to be.

I learn most about myself by observing myself in relation to others.

One thing has become quite clear: All acquaintances are passing. Therefore I want to make the most of every contact. I want to quickly get close to the people I meet because my experience has shown we won't be together long.

I've loved these saying since my first year in College.

Posted by Riza Rivera at July 15, 2003 1:34 PM