If you read my post from last week, /10/12/six-weeks-24-nations-one-life-long-decision/ then perhaps you recall that today marks the eve of my third week of sobriety. Despite an incredibly busy, overwhelming, and humbling week full of meetings with US Ambassadors and conference sessions with NATO’s incredible Political Advisors, I’ve prioritized self-reflection and have been reading heaps on soul mates, compromise, and how to find peace in times of turbulence, regret, and confusion.
Below are my “Lucky Thirteen:” thirteen points inspired by my readings on everything ranging from the difference in compulsion and spontaneity, to isolation and infinite opportunity. Why 13? It’s Dad’s date of birth and therefore has always brought me comfort.
Do any of these apply to you? If so, which ones resonate with you the most?
1. Detachment does not imply carelessness.
When we separate ourselves from the situation at hand it can be inferred that we “don’t care.” But many times, it’s exactly the opposite. By taking a step back, we’re able to maintain perspective and clarity of what’s in front of us- like when you look at a bee through a magnifying glass. Sure, you can see the contours and ripples of his wings, but you become unaware of the intimate relationship between the wings, the abdomen, the thorax. Sometimes being too close can distort your view.
2. Don’t get caught in the fallacy of false dilemma. I tend to act under the notion “if not this, then that.” But neither this, nor that, are the only options. The fallacy is that our options are limited when, in fact, our options are infinite. Be confident and comfortable in rejecting “false alternatives,” and allow yourself to see the bigger picture.
3. Crisis is an opportunity to awaken an unrealized dream. Rather than asking why something didn’t work, ask yourself what your new possibilities are. What new possibilities have presented themselves that would have been previously unavailable, inaccessible, to you?
4. Our power to make a difference in our world must evolve from developing our own character. For so long I fell into the trap that if I “externalized good,” I would, in turn, become better myself. But it is exactly the opposite. Our capacity to “do good” must stem from being true to ourselves and developing our potential from within, not just “within our context.”
5. To know we do not know is the first step to living authentically. This has been my mantra at NATO: From not being familiar with military structure, to the organizational structure of NATO, to Ukraine and Russia relations, and everything in between, I have never felt more, well, ignorant than I have lately.
Normally my main line of defense is to pretend like I know, when in fact, I have no idea. While this behavior may satisfy my initial discomfort, it does nothing but do me a dissatisfaction. By being dishonest with myself and others, I limit my opportunities for new knowledge and personal growth, and others’ opportunities to share their knowledge with the world.
Honesty removes the strain of defensive ego and prevents inner conflict. Be vulnerable. Open yourself up to opportunities to grow.
6. To acknowledge our weakness is to become stronger. This works directly with the point above: we cannot become better if we do not admit where we’re limited.
7. There is a great distinction between compulsion and spontaneity. This, for me, this has been one of my greatest processing points. I have always affiliated myself with spontaneity; of being lost in the moment, of living life momentarily with no fear of retribution or care for consequence.
But in these beautiful moments of “carelessness,” I have often times sacrificed self because acting instantaneously was the easier option. I never understood that there was a difference between being spontaneous and being compulsive. It has taken a lot of effort for me to understand this distinction and to honor myself in instances where I could easily abandon self and act compulsively.
8. Other’s judgement does not bother us when we know who we are. Amen. When people are judgmental, see it as an opportunity to help them better understand themselves by virtue of you. Perhaps their judgement stems from jealously or misunderstanding. How can we interpret judgement not as an attack on ourselves, but as an opportunity to redefine relationships?
9. To be pessimistic is to be morally paralyzed. There is light in every situation.
10. Our infinite potential exists in our current state of life –> We are infinite opportunity.
Our potential does not begin when we have the “right resources.” As an aspiring full-time yogi, I have struggled with how to continue my practice when classes, instructors and a yoga community are currently unavailable to me.
In my first few weeks in Izmir, I blamed my situation for not allowing me the opportunity to continue developing my potential: my flat is too small to practice handstands, how can I grow if I don’t have someone to readjust me? But now I see these limitations not as such, but as opportunities for newfound growth. Perhaps I may not master a handstand, but I can utilize this time to practice a variety of floor poses and stretches that I don’t tend to focus on when I have the access to space and a studio.
Every interaction, every instance is an opportunity for newly awakened potential; become aware of your situation and move forward in a way that will serve you.
11. Life, above all, does not occur in isolation: We are interdependent energy, intangible patterns. Living in a country where I cannot communicate fluidly has wedged a natural disconnect between myself and the community I live in. Despite not being able to fully express myself verbally, I have used this shortcoming as an opportunity to recognize the interconnectedness of humanity.
Regardless of nationality or language, we are all humans interdependent on one another to live a satisfying life of service. We feel: we cry, we laugh, we fall, we are happy and angry. We are reliant on one another even when we think we’re independent; none of our experience as humans exists in isolation.
This interconnectedness must also be recognized between us and Mother Earth. We must live cooperatively, peacefully within our host: recognize the subtle vibrations in the ground, the hymn in the air, the composition of a pomegranate, in order to appreciate the inextricable energy and interconnectedness around, between, and within us.
12. Life, therefore, is a composition of complementary action:
- Spring –> Winter
- Day –> Night
- Pitch –> Tone
- Stasis –> Fluidity
- Passive –> Active
- Mountains –> Valleys
- Yin –> Yang
13. To conquer impatience is to work within the cycles of life. I am chronically impatient. I believe I have the capacity to change the world instantaneously. But now, I see my capability to impact my life and the world in the way that a farmer tends to his crops: We must respect seasonality, we must honor conditions for growth. What can we cultivate? What processes do we need to respect? What is worth waiting for?