If you want to find some pure, untouched place in the world where the troubles of our times and the struggles of being human do not appear, where everyone is kind, loving, always honest, respectful and no one ever gets hurt and where you can be totally safe, you will not only look in vain but you will bring your childish fantasies of this Utopia with you and burden those in every place you find with your disappointments that they didn’t live up to them. Every person you meet and fall for ends up becoming a disappointment to you – they let you down because they weren’t perfect, they have their flaws. Each new person you meet, you think, “This might be them! Finally, I’ve met someone who is different! They’re not like all the others.” And then the betrayal.
Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.” Every ashram becomes a sham. Every new job is full of flaws. Every indigenous community a heartbreak. Every spiritual teacher a fraud. Every new potential and actual lover a discouraging disaster. Every new, would-be-friend and ally full of unbearable contradictions.
Every time, the words escape our lips, “You are not what I had hoped you would be.”
And, of course, the whole thing is heartbreaking. And so reality, the way the world is and the people in it are, becomes a constant betrayal. But the betrayal is a necessary one. It’s the betrayal that asks us to stop being children about the whole thing complaining that this world isn’t what we hoped it would be.
“What is it that you wanted to be before the world made you into this?”
You’ll make the world wrong for being the way it is and take the current state of reality as a personal affront to yourself and people like you. But, if you want a better tomorrow and you’re willing to meet the world as it is and are willing to do the impossibly hard work of loving it by learning the deeper story of how it came to be the way it is, if you’re willing to ask every troubling thing you come across, “What is it that you wanted to be before the world made you into this?” then things may begin to change. If you’re willing to take a stand to stop behaviour you witness that is hurting others without giving into the easy urge to punish, destroy, banish or vilify them in order to ‘purify’ the community – then things might begin to change.
The world in which we find ourselves is deeply troubled and troubling. It is a dangerous time and an endangered one. And the trouble and danger live within us too. There is the simple, pure and light-filled and fictional world of ‘Supposed To’ and then there is this is the real, messy, complicated world in which we live – full of beauty and terror. And this world is not in the way to the better tomorrow that we want. It is the way… If approached well. If approached poorly, it isn’t.
The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin.
As Stephen Jenkinson put it,”Awakening is not what you’ve been told. You don’t get on the other side of what’s been blocking you from awakening – it puts you in the presence of it.” But then, the question remains, what do we do when we find ourselves in the presence of it? Our continued condemnation of this world is what keeps it the way it is. The world is waiting for our hopes to die and for our genuine, loving labour to begin. It’s waiting for us to stop waiting for this better tomorrow to be delivered to us and for us to start fashioning it. It’s waiting to be redeemed instead of discarded because it isn’t perfect enough to meet our impossible, adolescent standards.
When we turn others into a hope-fulfillment vehicle the first casualty of that is the other person. It dehumanizes others to turn them into tools for us to use or food for us to eat. They were not put into this world for us to have our expectations met. When they fail to do something we tell ourselves that they should do (or do something we tell ourselves they shouldn’t have), that doesn’t mean they have failed – it means they were given an impossible task and were crushed by the weight of it. Our incessant hopes, demands and expectations of others are harmful to the very others we claim to admire and love so deeply.
“Do not seek perfection in a changing world. Instead, perfect your love.”
Buddha (563 BCE – 483 BCE)
None of this means that real harm isn’t done. Of course, that’s there too. But, let’s all think a bigger thought than, “I’m disappointed” and ask ourselves how it came to be this way – that so much harm is being done so often and that the bar for our conduct with each other has become so low. None of this is a call for no standards of conduct and ‘anything goes’. It’s being willing to wonder, “Why is it that anything seems to go? Why does this harmful behaviour keep appearing? Why do I stay silent? Do I have a role in this continuing to happen and how did that begin?” and then wondering what our role might be in bringing some sort of wholeness back to the community without making anyone wrong.
Our attempts to love this world as it is (which is not the same as passively accepting or condoning it) and, in so doing, encourage the growth of a finer world that we may never get to enjoy ourselves… well, that may be the closest thing that any of us get to a genuine initiation into adulthood. Our willingness to love this world and everyone in it, actively, passionately, fiercely is what allows it to become more whole and ourselves to become adults.
About the Author:
Tad Hargrave‘s business, Marketing for Hippies, works exclusively with “green business,” local business, sustainable business, social entrepreneurs, holistic practitioners, life-affirming and otherwise conscious entrepreneurs who are struggling with their cashflow, not attracting as many clients as they want and who don’t “love” the idea of marketing (even if they love their business). For almost a decade, Tad has been touring his marketing workshops around Canada, bringing refreshing and unorthodox ideas to conscious entrepreneurs that help them grow their organizations and businesses (without selling their souls).
Tad currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta (traditionally known, in the local indigenous language of the Cree, as as Amiskwaciy (Beaver Hill) and later Amiskwaciwaskihegan (Beaver Hill House)) and his ancestors come primarily from Scotland with some from the Ukraine as well.
You can find more of Tad’s blogworks HERE.
The Burden of a New Story – Bayo Akomolafe