Tag Archives: judgment

Monday’s Meditation: On Other People’s Dumb Decisions & Living Your Purpose

Monday, February 8, 2016

permission to be your amazing, weird, totally unique self granted!

“Dumb.” I said. “I’m sorry; isn’t that just kind of dumb?”

We were discussing a documentary about a group of three climbers who had attempted, and come within two hundred feet of, the summit of Meru Peak. During the expedition, one climber fractured his neck and one climber nearly died in an avalanche. Despite that, and despite the main climber’s best friend having died in the climber’s arms on another expedition they went on together, the group decided to reattempt the summit.

“Why is that necessary?” I continued. “Why be cavalier with your life?”

And then came the response that shut me right up.

“But don’t we need people like that in the world?”

“How else would we know anything about the top of Everest, about space, about anything beyond the bounds of everyday life? Don’t we need those people?”

Well, when you put it that way. Yup.

Even though I believe in the perfection of the universe, and in this world being a world of contrast; and even though I know the foolishness of passing judgment and try to lean away from it, still, I needed reminding. Maybe you do, too.

There is a place for everyone on this planet, and a need for their existence. For yours. And mine.

We need thrill seekers and we need professional organizers. We need the man who walks on wires strung perilously between two skyscrapers, and we need the man who walks the quiet path to milk his cows in the early morning. We need dare devils and risky imbeciles and we need zen Buddhist monks. We need the woman who lives for crunching numbers and the man who lives to paint.

We need the person who is the most unlike ourselves to show us what life might be like lived another way–to show us that there is another way.

We need the person whose goals and dreams don’t mirror ours, who allow us to breathe a sigh of relief, and say to ourselves, “Good that you got that handled. ‘Cause I really didn’t want to have nothing to do with crocheting no baby bonnet or flying no trapeze.”

Or:

“So glad you have a passion for climbing dangerous peaks, and thereby proving to us the odds we might defy and the literal and metaphorical heights we might ascend when we decide we want to,  ’cause I really didn’t wanna have nothing to do with meeting no avalanche.”

Thanks climber-man.

I mean, think of all the people out there who are relieved I have Live Simply covered because they don’t wanna have nothing to do with sorting no clutter or labeling no bins!?

Above all, it is not for us to judge what makes another tick, nor for us to call what one is internally guided to do–that causes harm to no one else–good or bad, smart or stupid. What we might not do with our own lives has nothing to do with it.

Because maybe to a world-renowned climber, not risking death by following the passion of climbing is akin to not being alive. And if your living riskily is your being alive, then I suppose it isn’t even about whether it’s smart or stupid. It just is. As in, it’s your truth. It’s what’s within you that you can’t ignore. It’s what you need to be doing in order to be happy. And if that’s the case, you must do it, danger be damned.

Monday’s Meditation: On Being In The Arena

Monday, April 29, 2013

This past weekend I attended the Seattle Poetry Grand Slam. As spoken word poetry goes, it was a night of unfiltered vulnerability, of spilling guts and insecurities and love on stage. It was poets spitting words of brilliance into a microphone, speaking the un-spoken, the hush-hushed– but not speaking so much as proclaiming, as orating with a bravado that’s achieved only when the subject of which one speaks originates from a place of ultimate authenticity. It was like watching twelve people unhinge their chest cavities as if they were cupboard doors and letting everyone in attendance peer inside.

A poetry slam is a competition. The poets receive scores assigned by five audience members turned spontaneous judges. One of those five happened to be my date for the evening. Sitting next to that proverbial paddle, flipped closer on the scale to either “good” or “bad” based on personal opinion alone was an odd experience. Granted, the slam manifesto– created whenever the slam itself was–prescribes that the judges be chosen at random, and that they rely precisely on their opinion when doling out scores. Still, the model caused me to ponder; we deem ourselves capable, qualified judges based on our possessing an opinion, but is that enough? Is it at all fair for me to sit here, lean back, twirl my hair when I please, and then critique you, poet?

I may find fault with your choice of shoes. I may despair your outfit. I may think your poem is good but your voice, it’s just a little bit annoying to my ears. I may think you could have done more, could have taken it further, or that you overdid it. I may wish I understood what the hell it was you were talking about, and I may say “that was a perfect poem if ever I’ve heard one.”

But until I’m up on that stage, until I’m standing on that rised platform, my voice, my every breath and sigh broadcasted though speakers, until I’m faced with the prospect of speaking my own pain and love and loneliness to an entire room full of strangers, and doing it with charisma, with just the right inflections and pauses and timing really is everything, until the day I stand up to recite a poem, which is really just a pseudonym for “myself,” or “everything and nothing at once,” until that day my opinion of you and your performance is meaningless. It’s without a speck of merit.

For you are daring greatly while I sit back and watch. And while I may conjure a hundred critiques, I cannot touch your daring.

Let us remember that in life, unlike in slams, we possess the right to critique only when we, too, are in the arena. And let us learn that the only feedback worth heeding comes from the people in the arena with us.