Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
This is my first post of the New Year, and also my first post in over a month.
First, I want to explain the break. My instinct was to say I needed some time to myself, that I needed to “pull back”. But that would not be the truth. The truth is that suddenly I had no idea what to write about, and frankly no interest to write even if I did. A year ago I would have said I was in the midst of a “funk”, a mild bout of depression or unease. Now I know that I was experiencing a deepening, a throbbing down into a unformed, pulpy place in myself that was frightening and overwhelming and silencing. In this place I had no right to speak to you, no right to “teach”, because I felt myself to be a squirming worm of confusion myself.
Which brings me to my second point, a continuation of the first. I really began to recognize the hypocrisy and insanity in me calling myself a “teacher”. I didn’t mean it in the literal sense, that I was someone worthy of that charge, but that by sharing my experiences of growth and awakening I could encourage others in the throws of the same process. In this way I, by definition, was a de facto teacher. My ego was demurely reveling in this, stroking its perpetual obsession to be wise and important. I began thinking about what I needed to tell people, not what I needed to be hearing. And so, being in the place I just described with no idea what I needed to be learning myself, I didn’t “teach” anything. (I’m kind of a little proud of this, by the way. I could have given into my ego, written some incredibly wise thing that I thought I knew all about, but I didn’t. Little battles, people. That’s where it’s at.)
And this brings me full circle to this Tolstoy quote. I know so many people who are so quick to comment on the world, listing the thousands of problems that are in dire need of correction; or even people who pick one problem to dedicate their voices to completely. It is courageous and important work, but oftentimes ultimately misguided. I’m an example of this. All my life I’ve wanted to “save the world” (literally, though, like it was a problem—but that’s for another post). I’d notice and log where everybody’s faults lay, what things needed my attention to change. It was only 18 months ago, when I stepped into that first therapy session, that it ever occurred to me what my heart was desperate to change was myself.
This is a concept I will be talking about a lot going forward, because it is something too important to shuffle away from. To change anything, we must change ourselves. If every person in the world came to a place of awakening, if the globe finally underwent the inevitable shift of consciousness, most of the problems we currently face would just cease. It really is up to you. Think of it like a viral plague. Every time you come into contact with someone, they have the opportunity to catch the bug of self-awareness.
It is up to you, and it is on you. The deeper you go, the more you discover, the more treasure you can bring back up to the surface when you return. So trek, on, journeyers! Trek on.