Beliefs and Motes

Beliefs and Motes  —  There is no objec­tive real­i­ty. Every­thing is fil­tered through our beliefs. Know­ing that can make a difference

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A lit­tle bit of dis, a lit­tle bit of dat

Today, I want to men­tion a quote from Tom Rob­bins’ Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates.

I’ve always loved a good turn of phrase and Rob­bins’ writ­ing abounds with them. Plus, I love the under­ly­ing philosophy.

In the book, Swit­ters is the pro­tag­o­nist, and at one point is talk­ing with a nun. He goes off on a segue about what’s wrong with the world. He declares that all of the world’s prob­lems are the result of what he calls the “killer B’s.”

His “B” list goes on for some length  —  bombs, beheadings, bloodshed, etc. His point, however, is this  —  the two banes of existence are Belief and Belonging.

Swit­ters is quite aware of the con­nec­tion between belief and belong­ing  —  which in turn is based upon social­iza­tion. Social­iza­tion is the process of teach­ing infants and chil­dren “the rules”  —  and those rules are all about fit­ting in to one’s tribe.

It’s true that belief and belonging lead to behaving.

Before I retired, I sel­dom if ever saw clients who had true men­tal ill­ness­es. What I did see were peo­ple caught in a cri­sis of mean­ing  —  whose beliefs and need to belong had led them far down a path of inau­then­tic­i­ty and false bonding.

As we move fur­ther into the 21st cen­tu­ry, what is sur­fac­ing is abject fear. Some of the fear is based upon the night­ly news  —  The end­less regur­gi­ta­tion of Trump­ism, cli­mate destruc­tion, etc.

There’s an internal sense of both dread and deadness.

There must be some­thing wrong with me. I’m fol­low­ing all the rules, being a good per­son… and I’m unhap­py and sick and tired and lost. This is not how it’s sup­posed to be.”

The fear is, “The world is going to end, and I’m going to die unful­filled.” And the truth of it is, this is so… unless you are will­ing to let go of the beliefs, the behav­iours and the belonging.

No wonder it’s scary.

I con­tin­ue to amaze myself with the cross-gen­er­a­tional inter­fer­ence I see. 

  • Par­ents who con­tin­ue to manip­u­late their grown chil­dren… try­ing to get them to behave, to fol­low the rules, to be the per­fect son or daugh­ter. This despite the fact that the grown chil­dren have lives of their own… and are emphat­i­cal­ly not there to ful­fill the par­ents’ needs. EVER.
  • Or grown chil­dren try­ing to get mom and dad to behave dif­fer­ent­ly, to treat them dif­fer­ent­ly, despite the fact that they’ve been treat­ed this way all their lives. They’re unable to let go of the illu­sion of belong­ing to a per­fect fam­i­ly  —  despite know­ing noth­ing is per­fect about good old mom and dad.
  • Or spous­es des­per­ate­ly try­ing to manip­u­late their part­ner into behav­ing. Guilt­ing, blam­ing, cajol­ing, or play­ing the “I have your best inter­ests at heart” game.

As opposed to letting go.

We real­ly need to loosen our grip on the rules, the reg­u­la­tions, the rigidi­ties we have all been sub­ject­ed to. All of which begins with an under­stand­ing that noth­ing is “real”… noth­ing is “true”… for all time and in all places. 

Beliefs, behaviours, belonging  —  social conventions  —  nothing real, nothing true, about any of it.

Most peo­ple choose to stay stuck and wal­low in self-pity, occa­sion­al­ly see­ing a ther­a­pist for just enough “sup­port” to main­tain their beliefs, with­out chal­leng­ing or let­ting go of any of them.

Rare is the per­son who, hav­ing been stuck for decades, sud­den­ly decides to drop the dra­ma and to become sim­ple. To sim­ply let go. To sim­ply begin liv­ing life in the moment. To choose behav­iours and beliefs based upon util­i­ty rather than on habit, coer­cion or fear.

This letting go of the “should-be’s” is initially traumatic  —  then suddenly freeing.

Some­thing else crossed my desk  —  it was a line in an e‑zine I sub­scribe to. It’s for writ­ers. There was a love­ly line that con­tained a mistype.

The author likes to go on at length about the deeds of her off­spring  —  para­graph after para­graph of “fam­i­ly news” before we get to the writ­ing stuff. I usu­al­ly skip past it. For some odd rea­son, my eye got hooked, and I found a gem.

Any­way, she was writ­ing about a trip to the beach with her kids, and about how they were build­ing sand cas­tles. Com­plete with a moat. Except what she wrote was that the kids had built a “giant mote.”

I about snorted coffee out my nose.

I sus­pect that “mote” is not a com­mon word any more. It’s Old Eng­lish, and means “speck,” or “a tiny amount of any­thing.” So, accord­ing to her expres­sion, “giant mote,” we get a “huge speck.”

Or, perhaps a giant mote is “making a mountain out of a molehill.”

I imag­ined two kids with tiny shov­els, dig­ging minus­cule holes in the sand and scream­ing “look at the size of that one!” (Appar­ent­ly, even in child­hood, size mat­ters… 😉 ) Dra­ma, dra­ma every­where, and no one notices its “mote-ness.”

We train ’em young, we do. As if any­thing short of dying is irre­versible. As if mak­ing things big and impor­tant actu­al­ly has rel­e­vance. As if mak­ing myself impor­tant means I actu­al­ly am impor­tant, as opposed to a car­i­ca­ture of a real human being.

As if “my drama is bigger than yours” is a “good thing.”

One of the joys in my life is how good I’m get­ting at notic­ing when I’m being dra­mat­ic, and mak­ing “giant motes.” Ram Dass called los­ing the dra­ma “Nobody Spe­cial Train­ing.” Which flies in the face of our cul­tur­al beliefs, behav­iours and belonging-ness.

Rather than build­ing giant motes, or even giant moats, per­haps we should sim­ply learn to doff our pre­tens­es, drop the shit we’re shov­el­ling, and have a roll in the sand. Maybe, from a rules and roles per­spec­tive, it’s all about noth­ing. Maybe instead of dig­ging a hole, I can “dig” being whole.

In the end, life is about pas­sion, not behav­ing. It’s about relat­ing, not belong­ing. And it’s about who I am and how I choose to inter­act with the world  —  not about blind­ly fol­low­ing the beliefs that mom­my and dad­dy and soci­ety taught me.

And it’s about remembering that it’s all a “giant mote.”

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