Saturday, June 29, 2013
Contentment, Complacency and Danger
We are back home after having taken a short trip to North Carolina. I had been asked to make a brief presentation followed by a book signing. The trip also allowed us to visit a dear friend.
It was a great trip: beautiful weather, great food, and super catch-up visits. But it was good to be home. I love my mattress and I slept like a baby the first night back. I like my familiar routines – from waking up to the coffee my electronic coffee-fairies make to the wildlife sights off the deck I witness as I have my first cup and take some puffs on my pipe. My body and its functioning seem to respond to these comfortable routines as well.
Catching up on the mail included perusing my favorite magazine, BBC’s Focus – Science and Technology. It is a replacement subscription for the initial BBC publication, Knowledge, which is no longer published. The magazine has a Question & Answer section, where readers write in and experts provide answers. It’s one of my favorite sections.
In this latest issue, a reader had written: Why do we get bored? An expert provided the following answer: “Like hunger, thirst and loneliness, boredom is a negative feeling that drives us to change our behaviour. Natural selection has favoured individuals with the capacity to feel bored because they are more likely to discover or create things that improve their survival chances, or to look for a new partner and so spread their genes more widely. Contentment leads to complacency, and that’s a dangerous evolutionary strategy.” [Focus, June 2013, p. 65]
Contentment leads to complacency and that can be dangerous. What a thought-provoking statement for me!
Here I was relishing getting back to my habitual routines. Do my routines foster contentment? Complacency? I think they might. I need to look at that.
I do remember getting sober and reaching plateaus, where it felt like my recent inward growth was getting stagnant. Nothing seemed to be happening. It worried me. I was gently reminded: “This too shall pass.”
Then there were those times when it felt like every day was bringing me another lesson to be learned and I would complain, hoping for some peace and quiet. I was gently reminded: “This too shall pass.”
Perhaps I get bored with contentment as well as excitement. Perhaps I need variety. Sameness grinds down my spirit – whether it’s an exciting or mundane sameness. I’ll also have to think about that.
This weekend my wife received the following from a good friend and subscriber: It is an excerpt from The Places That Scare You (A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times) by Pema Chodron:
“Confess your hidden faults.
Approach what you find repulsive.
Help those you think you cannot help.
Anything you are attached to, let it go.
Go to places that scare you.”
(Advice from her teacher – the Tibetan Yogini, Machik Labdron)
“…Live your life as an experiment. At the end of the activity, whether we feel we have succeeded or failed in our intention, we seal the act by thinking of others, of those who are succeeding or failing all over the world. We wish that anything we learned in our experiment could also benefit them. In this spirit, I offer this guide…. May it help move us toward the places that scare us. May it inform our lives and help us to die with no regrets.”
For some reason I am very contemplative this weekend. All these thoughts about complacency, contentment, facing fears, living as if it’s an experiment have stirred up something – but I don’t know what or why it is.
ACIM tells me I don’t need to know what or why. It simply is. It is Now. It is who and where I am at this moment. I don’t need to judge this as good/bad, helpful/destructive, fruitless/productive. I just need to observe and let it be…
Thinking on paper.
Sharing myself with you.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 June, 2013