allies · self-love · thoughts

The Enemy.

2.9.18 thoughts

I once had a date wherein the tall, handsome man across from me repeated the following phrase: “I am not my thoughts.”

Being perhaps naive or simply visually dazzled, I went on another several dates with this man, and again heard versions of this tagline: “We are not our thoughts.  Divorce yourself from your mind.  It is not you; it is not of you; defeat it.”

Soon enough–as in, the first time I heard it–I began to tire of his (and many others’) message.

Yes, I get it; I am the observer of my thoughts; the thoughts aren’t the me yadda yadda…

I’d heard this before, I got it, I get it.  And frankly, I don’t care.  Please, do go ahead and disagree and think I’m completely misinterpreting and if I only understood, I’d feel so much more enlightened and at peace (Do remember, that’s only your thoughts!), but here’s how that framework feels to me:

“There is a part of you inside of you that is the enemy, that you must fight and destroy and override at every interval!  Your mind is out to harm you and you must master it, judge it, and excise it at all times.”

For the love of Christ.

This reminds me of when a doctor will say that you need medication to attend to a malfunction with your body.  Somehow your body has become your enemy and you need to tame it and subdue it or excite it.  For reasons unknown to them, you have developed some strange rejection of your own body and they know how to treat it: Override it.

While I am not wholly anti-Western medicine (chemo survivor, after all), I do feel great suspicion of tending to a problem with a nuclear weapon rather than with some subtler, perhaps more inconvenient method.  And this is how I feel when people talk of subduing their mind by divorcing themselves from it.

Luckily, at the moment, I’m listening to two tapes that are countering that way of thinking: Deepak in the 21-day meditation Manifesting True Success and Canfield in The Success Principles.  Today’s meditation on “The Successful Mind” and yesterday’s chapter on renewing thought patterns both echo the same sentiment:

Your mind is a tool, an ally, a friend, and, hello!, a constant companion until your death.  So why on earth would you want or ever need to get rid of it?

I submit that some thoughts are not useful; I recognize that there is larger consciousness disconnected from repetitive, self-defeating thoughts.  I know from experience that habits of mind cause habits of action, and not all those actions are self-supporting.

That said, use what we’re given!  Why would we be given a mind, or a spleen, or a tonsil, or an appendix if we’re not supposed to have them??  Why would it be incumbent upon us to remove or silence all the vibrant and functioning parts of us, including our mind??

YES, some thoughts are negative and cause painful patterns.  But the wisdom I’ve been listening to lately — and which resonates best with me — is that our mind can be trained, our mind can become an ally, our mind is a fantastic and abundant asset!

Don’t remove what evolution and Fate have bestowed upon you: harness it, heal it, use it — and love it.



allies · career · community · debt · fear · friendship · hope · Jewish · love · perseverance · scarcity · self-care · support





“You look like you’re leading something,” she said.
We met for an info interview. My former boss and I. I wanted
to run past her my career ideas, my flailing, my desires, my questions. And what can
happen in an hour (I should know by now), is phenomenal.
We caught up briefly, I heard about the cross-Bay move, the
house hunt that fell magically into place after a year of city-looking, about
the semi-adult kids, and about the current work.
I met her in 2008. I had a fever of 103 that weekend and
had to cancel our initial interview, so we had to meet on a Sunday, fever or no
fever — I had a drastically depleting bank account, no safety net, and did what
it took. What it took was meeting her in a Starbucks, rabid coffee addiction
being the first thing we aligned on. We sat talking for over an hour, about the
job, sure, but about lots of other things, too.
I didn’t even apply for that job. I’d applied for a
different position in the organization, and having been passed up for that one,
they handed my soon-to-be new boss my resume, and said, Here, she might work
well for you.
I was blonde at the moment. I’d quit my job at the property
management company with no net and no prospects. No plan and no direction. I’d
simply had enough of crying in my car at lunch because I felt so stuck and lost
over my “career.” I’d been there almost 2 years. They were great. But it wasn’t
“me,” and I didn’t know what “me” was anyway, so I stayed.
Until I didn’t. Until my coworker there went out to lunch
with me, and I can’t even remember exactly what she must have asked me, or
exactly what I must have said. But it triggered action, for better or worse.
I called a friend of mine after that lunch, and he asked me two important questions: Why would you stay? “Financial security.” Why would you
leave? “Love. Self-love.”
I’d never said those words before. I never knew I’d had such
an impulse or a drive such as that. “love” or “self-love.”
What I didn’t have was a plan, a back-up, a safety net. And
for all that people say about “leap and the net will appear”… well, I should do a leeetle bit of my part in assuring a safe landing, too.
So, that weekend, I gave my notice, hosted a my now-annual “Pre-Val Hearts & Stars” party, dyed my hair blonde. And then scoured the
interwebs for hope. Which, FYI, is not where hope lives.
With a fever, a toilet paper shortage, and lots of “I
want to do something ‘creative,’ but I don’t know what that is” spinning, one
morning I woke up, and asked myself, What do I like to do?
Strangely, the answer was, “Well, I like being Jewish.” Ha.
So, onto the interwebs I went, and typed into google: Jewish, San Francisco.
I applied to everything there was. And I got called in for
the first job at that organization. And then I got called in by my soon-to-be
I was tired, desperate, and blond. I was feverish, scared,
and brain-addled.
I got the job.
(Here, I could insert the same style story that got me the
job at the property management company, under very similar circumstances including toilet-paper and food
shortage, but I’ll leave that for now – except to say, perhaps you now can
understand why it is that “Stability First” is my current motto and touchstone.
– No, It’s not “fun,” it’s not zany, or “creative,” but – guess what, to paraphrase
a friend I heard last week, It gives me the table upon which to build the
puzzle of my life. Stability first gives me the freedom and the ease and the
breathing room to … buy toilet paper.)
And here my now-former boss and I sat yesterday, at another
coffee shop, so full circle it makes me smile, and here were are again, talking
of Jewish, talking of organizations, of helping, of building, of changing. It’s
6 years later, now, almost to the date, that she and I have sat
across tables sipping our addictions and exchanging our personal and professional lives.
She showed up for me during cancer. She brought me gift
cards to Trader Joe’s so I wouldn’t go hungry or worry about doing so. She
brought me a travel Shabbat kit with candles and a prayer that my mom and I
would use once when she was here. She brought with her to Israel a prayer, a plea, I’d written during cancer that I’d asked her to take with her there, and she did, under a lemon tree in her parents’ backyard, dug, burned and buried my prayer with her small niece and nephew. She told me how incredible I was and how inspiring
I am.
And yesterday, she told me the same. She gave me hard
answers, great ideas, helped me think through my own. This woman is a mentor
and a friend, and lost or not lost, I have allies like her, unique as she is,
all over this planet.