destroying what *must* be destroyed – part II

How do you feel about destroying what must be destroyed in your life? Part II

{Follow up post from destroying what must be destroyed}

This question started me thinking about my life and what is truly not necessary in it. It made me realise something about my relationships with my friends – online and offline. It made me start to evaluate the quality of my relationships and to see if there are any that should be “destroyed”. It got me thinking…

In truth, I live a pretty quiet life and don’t often meet my friends. I’m an introvert of sorts – except when I’m in front of 200 students explaining to them about the struggles and issues that some learners face when they are learning in a second (or third, or fourth) language. Then, I’ll happily stand up and sprout “wisdom”. Aside from that, I’m an introvert and I have the best relationships with my friends online. I mean, excluding the people I live with, I would physically talk with about one or two others in a normal week. However, I have numerous conversations going online – emails, chats, Skypes, all that. I could go on Skype or Facebook and find a random friend to start talking with and nothing would be unusual about that mode of communication for us. It would definitely be weirder to pick up a phone and talk to them. Definitely.

I started looking at my Facebook “friends”; those people that I’ve connected with over the years and still share a connection, albeit sometimes tenuous. I looked at my close friends and my not-so-close friends. I also looked at my used-to-be-close friends who I distanced myself from. Yes, I’m talking about that one friend that I used to do everything with, but we grew apart when I stopped initiating interactions. They didn’t initiate interactions. Mutual decision to grow apart? Maybe. Let’s talk about that friend, “F”.

F and I went to school together – we’ve known each other most of our lives. At school, we either loved each other or hated each other. It was a boarding school; it can breed contempt easily. Aside from that, we went to the same university and when I went overseas to work, I found a job for F and F came over, too. This was F’s first experience overseas and we lived together for a while. Until I couldn’t stand it anymore; I moved out. We were still in the same town – the same group of expat friends (because we were seriously limited for choice) – but we managed to avoid each other for a while. Then F left and I stayed. Through emails (waaaay back before Facebook), we stayed in touch. When I wanted a place to chill in another country, we met again and were friends again. And so it continued – we were travel buddies and our mutual connection was a love of travel (because it has to be more than just going to school together). We continued like this for a long time and we made it a ritual: once a year, we’d travel together to a place we’d never been before. We had amazing travels – we saw many different places and countries. We made great mutual friends that we still have today. It was great.

BUT.

(There’s always a “but”.)

When we were together, I was sacrificing myself so that F could have the best experience that F could; I had to give up on what I wanted and just do what F wanted. This wasn’t good. I started to comprehend what this was doing to me but I thought better of F – I thought I was misreading the situation and F’s responses. Maybe I was weak. I thought that it was just me, not F. So, I tried again. And again. And again. Three times – three different situations – three different countries – two different years. I made an effort to try to see that F cared about me and that we were a travel team together. But, no. No. It was all about F and what F wanted and thought. So, after the third trip, I decided that I’d had enough. I was not going to be F’s friend anymore – or rather, I was not going to go out of my way to maintain our “friendship”. It was hard at first – I wanted to share things with F and to travel more together. I wanted to go back to the “good times”, the “fun times” that we had at points in our travels. I couldn’t go back. I learned that I could do it all myself, though.

As expected, F and I grew apart. Now, when it came to an important celebration for me, I had always told F that they would be the first person invited. In truth, I thought long and hard about inviting F and F’s partner. In the end, I did invite them. And they came. This actually surprised me until I realised why they came. They came to see if my life was real and if my happiness was real. They also came to get ideas for their own celebration. To work out if they could do it “better” than I did. I didn’t care – it was just interesting to see that F was up to F’s old tricks again – comparison, competition, selfishness. I thought I was vindicated in my distance. I was glad that I distanced myself from F.

Nine months later, F invited me to a celebration. It wasn’t an easy invite to accept, but I considered that F and F’s partner came to my celebration, so perhaps it was “fair” and “right” that I go to theirs. It was an ordeal to attend the celebration – extensive travel, expensive accommodation, long delays during the celebration – but it was worth going. I realised that nothing had changed and that everything was the same with F. Including that I wanted out of our “friendship” permanently. I want it destroyed. I want it over. It’s draining me, causing me undue stress and just generally unhealthy.

But underneath, I’m not sure I can be that callous. In reality, our only contact is online and it’s relatively sporadic and passive. F only contacts me when they need me, or when they want to show how much better than me they are. A very selfish, one-way friendship, if I can still use that term. I wish things were different; I wish we could be real friends. But then I remember the pain, the constant competition, the constant bettering. That’s exhausting. I don’t need that. I don’t want that. I want out.

Ergo, I shall destroy. Cut ties, remove from contacts, aim for zero connection online and offline.

DML Graphics v13 130919 Logo Square 151x1511 Desire Map for Life

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Inspired by Danielle Laporte and her post on Your relationship to destruction, Goddess Kali, and Fridays with desire. #DesireMap

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Inspiration vs. Motivation

Inspiration and motivation – I have thought these were the same and not bothered to interrogate my own understandings of their inherent nature and what they truly mean. This is odd for me – I’m usually a “word” person (read: grammar geek) and I like to know the subtle differences between words and when it is more appropriate to use one over another. But I have never thought deeply about this pair of words, together or separate. Besides, everyone knows what they mean – they are everyday words. I know that sometimes they are used as synonyms for each other, but I still haven’t defined or delineated them well. That is, until I read the start of a great post by Nerd Fitness. (Yes, it’s nerdy; it’s also got some great writing and *inspirational* stories!) In essence, my take home message was this:

Be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality. {tweet me}

Let’s go back to definitions, though, and get a foundation from which to build our understandings.

in·spi·ra·tion  n.
1a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
1b. The condition of being so stimulated.

mo·ti·va·tion n.
1a. The act or process of motivating.
1b. The state of being motivated.
2. Something that provides an inducement or incentive.

When I look at these words in the cold light of a dictionary, they are starkly different: one is about personal enjoyment and engagement without seeking a reward or benefit; the other is about a reward or a lure to make someone do something. Wow. Just think about that.

One is from an intrinsic internal place; the other is external and requires something tempting. Black and white. Open and closed. On and off. Opposites.

Questions: Why do we so often interchange these words or not recognize the differences that are inherent in their meanings? Have we become so desensitized by the media, the pack mentality, the global grab that we cannot distinguish between these two anymore? Or is it just me?

The difference between these concepts is astounding. Going back to my take home message from Nerd Fitness’s post – be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality – I didn’t realize it at the time, but at a subconscious level I understood. Now, it’s time for me to raise my awareness to a conscious level. Two questions (from Nerd Fitness) prompted my own introspection and interrogation:

What drives me daily to be better?

  • My desire to have my dream life that I have built inside my head based on others’ dreams and perceptions of “happiness”: buying a home, having a family, being stable, being “fit”, being “successful”, being “happy”.

From where do you get your inspiration?

  • My friends and my family: they have all had their own struggles and weaknesses (as we all do, sometimes even more), but they have never let those negatives stop them. They continue to achieve, continue to dream, continue to do. I admire every one of my family and friends; they are amazing people. (Yes, I am *that* lucky!)

What about you? What drives you every day to be better? Where is your inspiration? Share with us in the comments below~

(not atypical) conversation with myself

Swan in Ireland 2003Me 1: So, how do you feel today?
Me 2: I don’t know – I had a good day and yet a feel a bit down because it’s not quite going as planned. I don’t know why – I want to let it flow but I also want to push it.
Me 1: Just let it flow – they are the ones who will lose out if they say no. You know better than to push it. Look at what happened on Friday! And now how is that affecting what happened today?
Me 2: I know, I know. I know better; I really do. You know I just to get it all organized! But I know I need some patience.
Me 1: So, did you notice the sky today? And how the clouds were playing with each other?
Me 2: I did – actually, I wanted to lay down on the grass outside and just watch them float by. But, as you know, we were busy, and now it’s night and all we can see are the millions of stars.
Me 1: That’s right! You need to go outside and look at the stars and remember how amazing this planet is and how amazing it is that we are alive.
Me 2: Yeah, I should. But my eyes are tired tonight. They are sore and I think it’s because I used a different cream on them.
Me 1: I know – and you know better. This has happened before but you didn’t take notice. Now you can’t finish the work that you need to do. Look at yourself – you’re squinting at the screen as you write this!
Me 2: Argh! How do you know me so well? How can you see what I’m doing and know what I shouldn’t be doing?
Me 1: Because we are the same. You know this. We are just two voices in the same mind having a conversation. We are like two sides of the same coin, you and me.
Me 2: I know, but sometimes I feel like I’m the poor cousin to you – you know the “better” ways and the “better” ideas and all that. I’m the complaining one; the silly one; the selfish, self-centred one. It’s awkward sometimes…
Me 1: We are the same; we have one heart, one mind, one body, one soul. We are just different views of the one being.
Me 2: But it’s hard to accept – it feels like we are different people at times. Kind of schizophrenic or something. Maybe we need to stop playing this game of “same same but different” and just join forces so we can rock this world.
Me 1: I agree! Joining forces would be the best – then we will be in sync more and not feel so torn. 🙂

*insert loving hug here*

pretending

I found myself surrounded by a group of pretenders. Pretending to be who they thought everyone else wanted them to be. No, these weren’t the social clichés of hipsters or rappers or emos or anything like that. These were a group of women in their late 20s and early 30s – mostly single, professional, “stable” women – and they were pretending to be who they weren’t. They were hiding their own truth in order to fit in with each other. Seeing them interact with each other made me quite uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be like them and just try to “fit in” with their discussions. There was nothing really wrong with their discussions or their topics for discussion, just they weren’t being true to themselves and true to each other. I could feel this, see this, hear this, know this. It was like they were speaking in a false code that helped them identify as a social group that was different. Listening to their words but watching their actions (and hearing about their actions) was difficult – I wanted to scream at them to “be real!”, but it just wouldn’t happen. I felt very outside of conversation and outside of the little group they had created despite having been invited to join them.

Just being there and feeling their lies made me wonder what this world has come to in order for these beautiful young women to distrust themselves so much that they lie to each other just to fit in. I sat there wondering how I could contribute to the discussion and when I realised that I had nothing to contribute because I couldn’t lie like that: I just watched and listened. There were some blatantly obvious lies, as well; not about little things like how much they spent on something or what they ate for lunch (which they were not truthful about), but about big “life” issues – children, marriage, commitment…

For example, one woman was ten weeks pregnant and was telling the others to never get pregnant – it’s the worst thing ever – and that she never wanted to be pregnant. At all. Ever. Five minutes later, she mentioned that she had maternity leave written into her work contract four years ago. Four. It was something that she actively decided to do and that she planned to do because her boss was “impossible at best”, so she had to get it written into the contract. In another discussion a little while later, she talked about how easy it was to give up drinking, smoking, caffeine, processed meat, soft cheeses, long distance travel, and whatever else. She said she had no side effects, no bad moods, no cravings. This was coming from a woman who had been the typical “life of the party” girl who was never seen without a cigarette or a drink in her hand; someone who lived from coffee to coffee and cigarette break to cigarette break. Yet, as soon as she realised she was pregnant, *poof* she’s given up everything. So many people cannot give up just one of these things, let alone all of them. (Even if they really want to; even if they have strong motivation like creating another life inside them; even if it was a life-and-death situation.) If she didn’t care about her unborn child and if she didn’t want to be pregnant, why would she give all of this up? I’ve known others who did everything that they could to end their pregnancy early because they didn’t want to be pregnant. Here, a woman who claims to not want children, to hate being pregnant, to be dreading the next eighteen or twenty years of her life, she is doing her best to provide the safest and healthiest home for her unborn child. Is this not a contradiction between her actions and her words?

The list of blatant lies told in this conversation goes on – it really does. I spent most of those two hours just sitting in shock and wondering how this group of women would react if I told them exactly what I was thinking. Or if I told them that they were basing their friendship and conversations on lies. If they truly looked at themselves and truly allowed themselves to be who they are, then they would be shocked – more shocked than I was when I was listening to them. Really.

I wonder how we have gotten to this place – to a place where being honest with ourselves, and one another, is regarded as being a social taboo.

Sometimes It’s Overwhelming.

Sometimes it’s all so overwhelming – the thought of everything I have to do before the deadlines. Sometimes I become debilitated because there is so much to do. What sane person would try to fit all of this into one day, one life? I keep reminding myself that I need balance – but when it comes to it, I am exhausted. Exhausted by everything – exhausted because I can’t stop – not now, not yet, but soon. Soon, I tell myself, soon. Just one more thing, one more email, one more job on my list… Suddenly, the day is gone and I wonder where it went. I make choices not to do something that I really want to do; why? I really want to do these things, so I need to make time. Starting now. Right now. (I hope!)

How much do I love you?

You’ve never asked me this question, but I ask myself.

Every day, I wonder, how can I tell you how much?

I begin with the cliches: “I love you as deep as a river, as high as a mountain…”

But this wrong. Wrong in so many ways.

I’ve told you that I don’t have the words to explain my love.

You said I have a way with words.

You’re right; I do.

But I don’t have a way for this.

My love for you is larger than the distance between us;

it’s brighter than the full moon on a clear night;

it’s deeper than the darkest depths before the sun rises;

it’s warmer than soft puppies breath;

it’s that spark like a twinkling star at night;

it’s that hitch in my breath when your image pops into my head;

it’s that moment when my mind wanders and it wanders into your arms;

it’s my blood;

it’s my heartbeat;

it’s all that I am,

and more.

Simply, I love you.

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