Today I was reminded of the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. (The SA, if you'll recall, casts a spell on his broom, which then picks up buckets and hauls water. Come time for the broom to stop, the SA is dumbfounded, not knowing that particular spell. Flooding ensues.)
We want to master what is not ours to master. We are preoccupied with pleasing and protecting ourselves. In striving for security, we make ourselves insecure. In seeking knowledge, we baffle ourselves. Pursuing power, we lose the ability to wield it wisely. Driven by ego, we net the opposite of what we're after.
This may seem like a strange topic for a whirlingbetty post, and indeed it is. Now that I know from my Strengthsfinder test that I am strong in "intellection", I feel free to indulge in thought. (Let's hope this doesn't last too long- I'd really prefer to NOT lose my readership.) Plus, I received inspiration from Garnet's poem about safety on his blog Glittering Muse.
The search for safety is what fuels our society's latest trend: "cocooning". Cocooning causes us to choose to stay home rather than venture out into the world. Fear of terrorism, crime and natural disaster has changed our social behavior. We barricade the doors and cover the windows. We order clothing, movies and pizza online, paying dearly to have it all delivered to our cocoons. We refuse to show up and participate in our own social lives.
OK, so what's the solution? Perhaps the Zen approach would be to stop controlling the world and defending ourselves against it. Just be Here Now, totally, completely, with awareness. Just respond to what is actually happening. ("Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."-John Lennon)
Garnet's poem points out that not only do we seek protection (and pleasure, IMHO) for ourselves; we even seek it for others, which reminds me of a story of Anna Quindlen's about her conversation with a homeless man on the boardwalk at Coney Island. This man described how he "wore" his newspapers when the weather turned brutal. Quindlen asked him why he didn't move to a homeless shelter. He stared out at the ocean for a while, then said, "Look at the view, young lady, just look at the view."
"Live and let live" is going to be my motto for a while, and by "live" I mean Here and Now, with awareness, responding to what really happens, and appreciating the view while I'm at it.