Rediscover your core

The fact that millions of people share the same vices
does not make these vices virtues,
the fact that they share so many errors
does not make the errors to be truths,
and the fact that millions of people
share the same forms of mental pathology
does not make these people sane.

Erich Fromm

Over time we tend to accept things, ignore things, or bury things we experience. Both good and bad, but mostly bad.

Things accumulate like in our storage units or in our attics.

Some are just memories, some are regrets, some are abandoned dreams, some are traumas you have forgotten or you can never forget, some are joyous moments that can energize, you and still others remind you why you are here.

We are not really hoarders as much as we are hiders. We just sort of paint over the floor and place a rug on top of that. We layer.

Some of these layers represent our fatigue. We grew tired of the complexity. We hoped life would get simpler, but it never did. We keep shoving these personal and existential conundrums beneath the veneer of something more convenient and comfortable.

And the layering continues.

Our individuality, you remember, the idea that you are unique, is buried beneath layers and layers of rules, experiences, and acceptable tolerances. Our inner child, our specialness, and even our purpose gets smothered by the warm and comfy blankets of pragmatism.

It is our comfort, our gradual and continuous acceptance of the status quo that starts to degrade our expectations, our standards and our individuality.

“I have lost my sense of purpose.” Is such a common utterance to me, I am growing accustomed to hearing it. YIKES!

We normalize hiding our true feelings and expressions of ourselves. Our feelings get compressed, suppressed and repressed. And that can lead to changes to our worldview and our moral outlook.

The abandonment of understanding and critical thinking makes way for the simplification of thought.

Let’s all be honest. We all subscribe to conspiracy theories. We do. No matter which “side” we are on we see patterns of behavior that are linked to some “evil” objective that is antithetical to ours. In fact, these conspiracies animate our complacency and that is part of our layering.

We simplify the world into these patterns because otherwise our brains will explode.

Over time, without reflection, critical thinking and good ole curiosity we succumb.

Whatever air we breathe, regardless of its toxicity, we acclimate, and then it becomes all of the air that we know.

While there is a residual of moral outrage still in there, it has been squashed by the great weight of the world we once cared deeply about.

These layers are like layers of thick skin that develops around places of friction—callouses.
We become de-sensitized from reality protected by these layers of cynicism, fatigue, and apathy.

Sometimes these layers get covered with distractions with detours, and with decadence.

We can be confused. Things get turned upside down. Vices become virtues. Corruption becomes courage. Insanity becomes innovation.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.  Jiddu Krishnamurti

Like the sedimentary layers of the soil, the dirt of our lives, gets mixed in with the rubble and the gems. The grit and the gravel. The sand and the silt. And our lively footsteps are deadened by the compaction of the layers of our buried ideals, dreams, and destinies. And the path is sealed by the mortar of materialism and the cement of selfishness.  

This last week I talked to a job hopper, a future retiree, and an applicant to grad school.

The job hopper:  “The cost of everything is forcing me to make more money. I still want to work on climate change. I never thought I would say this, but I am going to work for a big corporation – not the “bad” ones—but need to get on a track to make a lot more money.”
The future retiree: “I was going to retire soon. But my 401k is shrinking with the stock market. I am so ready to have more time to myself. I guess my grandkids will have to wait. I have to keep working until I croak. Ha ha.”
The future graduate student: “I do want to change the world and I will. There are so many issues I care about. But first, I am going to be successful and later, start a foundation. Then I will help people.”

These layers elevate our paths giving us a greater vantage point to see what we want but further from who we are.

Every time I have been forced to stop, I started to dig through the layers to find myself. I found shards of my identity, my integrity, and my dreams. Thankfully my mentors, my family and my closest friends encouraged my amateur archeology. While a great work in progress, I have been slowly unearthing the pain and the pleasure of my past. The great history of my soul’s soil.

We need to stop. Stop looking ahead. Look down on the layers beneath. We can re-learn who we are and what we stand for. The pain of past generations. The energy of our gifts. We can get glimpses and reveal greater sense of our uniqueness.

Invite others, trusted colleagues, to help you break through the thick crust of your sediment, to unearth yourself and rediscover your core.

It is the digging itself that will help us re-discover the virtue, truth and sanity of our lives.

Looked like fossilized wood, but layers of rock formed over hundreds of years near Idyllwild California.

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