Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm Ready To Fly

This song has been playing in my head for the past day or two, since I returned from my most recent parent seminar. It’s a song that is played when “key holders,” attendees who have completed the entire program of seminars, are held up to “fly” by the rest of us. We hold them aloft, arms outstretched, eyes, closed, in a moment of celebration of their achievement.

I don’t know who sings the song. It’s obvious why it was chosen. It’s inspirational. I’m finding my cynicism broken down by these seminars. Ifrequently wipe a tear from my eyes as I hear the song play itself over in my head.

Am I ready to fly? Not yet. First of all, I’ve got three more weekends of seminars to go. And even then, I’m not sure. I know I am learning things about myself and about the ways I have learned to respond, react. Am I changing some of these ways? To the extent that I am more conscious of my standard reactions and when they “aren’t working” for me, I suppose so.

I recently learned that what I suspected is true. There is a strong philosophical connection between this program I am in and the EST seminars that people attended in the ‘70s. I made fun of those self-actualization programs, but now I think I understand better their power. I don’t know that I could ever get “it,” as the EST-ies used to say, because I am too unwilling to give myself over. But I see value in this kind of self-examination.

I’ve got secrets and fears that I may never part with. That’s my choice. I recognize it as a choice, and I’m somewhat comfortable with it. A lot of what we are taught in this program is that our life is largely what we choose it to be. I remember my EST-ie roommate taking this notion to an illogical extreme, arguing that physical illness is a choice. I’ll never buy that. But I do see that many things I have ascribed to “fate,” or to factors beyond my control, are in fact things I had control over. I could have made many different choices from the ones I have made. I continue to make choices every day; many of them are guided by my choice not to give up certain comforts and pleasures that I have in my life. That’s okay. I am glad I am more conscious of this. It helps to resolve the feeling I sometimes have of being “trapped” in my life.

Does this help to make me ready to fly? Understanding the degree to which I control my life has to help. It also will help me be consistent in the message I send to my daughter.

I think at some level I always understood this “choice” thing, and yet it’s easy, on a daily basis, to feel that my choices are more limited than they are. What I need to keep in mind is that certain choices are limited by other choices. To truly change, I would have to be willing to make some choices to unsettle things that are well-settled in my life.

Things that I value, like physical and economic comfort. Do I fear the consequences of changing these? Sure, I do. I’;m curious how I might handle a real “break” from these comforts. But I don’t know that I really want anything I might gain from that break. That’s what I would have to decide in order to make it happen – that what I really want is possible only if I make a break.

Could that day come? Maybe. It’s not here yet.

So what are my values? Creativity, for sure. Intellect, indubitably. Endurance, I find. I never thought of that as a value, but it really is. I highly prize the decision to “stick with” a course, to hold on through rough times, to endure. Are there other names for this? Loyalty, maybe, but that only applies to personal relationships, and I’m not sure that is where my concept of endurance ends.

I’m suspicious of the more commonly stated values: Integrity, Spirituality, even Honesty. I find them all easy to say and hard to live by. There’s a part of the program that says your values are the things you live by every day. So I think Creativity, Intellect and Endurance are there. I’m pondering whether Comfort is a value. It’s a condition, but what is the value that leads to it. Security, maybe? Safety?Freedom from want? Right now, Security is standing out as the best word for it. How does that mesh with my stated contract: I am a creative, fearless, adventurous, confident man? Fearless, adventurous and confident seem almost antithetical to the idea of security, but do you need security in order to be those other things? Can you be fearless if you are insecure? Can you be confident? Can you be adventurous if you don’t have some notion of security?

I get into these circular patterns of thought, but they’re good, I guess. At least I’m thinking.