Recently, I believe I irked a few people who had said that they would do things by telling them not to worry about them since they hadn’t yet done them. There was no anger in this. It was simply accepting that they were not doing those things, that time had a different meaning to them, and they may have been over-committed. They weren’t moving in the same direction at this time.
It wasn’t personal, just as their non-action toward me wasn’t personal. It was simply what it was – and since I view everyone as fluid… well, now we get to the topic at hand.
In my travels, a much younger version of me was reading up on Buddhism. I happened to be in Okinawa/Japan at the time, and one of my fellow Corpsmen was a Buddhist, so I read up about it – and one of the more useful things I picked up from it was the concept of Anatta (Non-Self). Recent science seems to back the theory of non-self.
It wasn’t too hard to grasp for me because I already saw how I had changed in the past, and when faced with issues how I changed in the present. The idea that the self is dynamic rather than static became a foundation. And the idea that since the self changes from moment to moment not only in ourselves but those around us, it is fickle to believe what people say that they will do unless they prove otherwise, and even then it is fickle.
And then there’s the fact that people are simply horrible about over-commitment, but that’s off topic.
When I do become angry with people – it happens less often these days – it’s usually because they are forcing my ‘self’ down a path I was trying to avoid because I know what I will be during that part of life and that may not be what I want to be – but, what is to be is to be.
When I started thinking about all of this stuff in the 90s, I recognized the changes happening and why they were happening. Then I thought I understood it all because a part of my self was… monitoring my self, and that seemed to be the answer – I thought I understood, but that understanding was superfluous. The part of yourself that monitors yourself also changes. It all churns and mixes, and until you actually work your way through that you’re just a surface swimmer when you have to plumb the depths.
Things done to me are done based on perceptions of me, and as flawed as those have been over the years I am unsurprised when those perceptions lead to the wrong conclusions for others. So I ask myself why those things are done, and if I think it worthwhile I change, and if not I do not.
Some parts of me do not change, such as sticking to my word, and I used to expect that from others. I no longer do. When they do not keep their word, I simply remove my expectation. There are times when the expectation is necessary, when there are expectations of me, and so I have to translate that to something tangible to someone else using the tools at my disposal – but if I can forego the expectations of my self, I can forego the derived expectations of others.
And ultimately, I surround myself with people who are similar – who keep to their word, who are authentic, and who add to the value around me rather than simply promising to – and I fill that role as well, or I expect the same treatment. It’s about trust, priorities, and being true to the self.
That I do not believe in supreme beings is superfluous as well in all of this, since those that do surround me and often keep true to themselves as well.
Regardless of what happens in the world, the fluid self must move on and it cannot do so by holding the hands of those that are not moving in the same direction.