This thing of which we are in pursuit
Imagine, if you would, that you are in a class or lecture of mine.
It’s not the start of the session.
We are past that. We’ve established some rapport as a group.
Casually, between topics, a raise my hand indicating a question is coming.
I pause, lower my hand, and ask: “By a show of hands, how many of you are able to love yourself or are able to practice really good self-care?”
There’s a moment of uncomfortable silence and an awkward laugh.
I flex my hand at the wrist, a little above my hip, and shake it parallel to the ground—left to right and back and forth—a gesture which, in a different context, might be the signal for “cut it out.”
I ask, referring to my lowered hand, “And, how many of you can do it—be kind to yourself—but only at this modest level?”
Meekly, slowly, guiltily, hands raise.
I compassionately look at all sets of eyes I can catch and pause.
And, then quickly, for comedic relief, to suggest that such a thing is possible, and to highlight the direction I am about to suggest, I follow with, “And, how many of you—show those hands high—are awesome at self-kindness? Keep them up. Be proud.”
Laughter and a few more hands come up to the level of my own.
In the above few sentences, I repeated this thing of which we are in pursuit in different ways: “love yourself,” “practice self-care,” “self-kindness,” and “self-love.”
Why? Why the variety?
Because I’m not talking about any one of those phrases, but the idea that’s behind them. The ability to not kick your own ass so much. Self acceptance.
What exactly we call it doesn’t matter so much.
Wonderful stuff, this thing of which we are in pursuit.
You too deserve this thing of which we are in pursuit.
I’m not saying we abandon our love and compassion for others. Just that we ever increase our love and compassion for ourselves.
The ROTB Saturday Service gathering meets in time/space as a giant Zoom meeting.
In one particular meeting I ask everyone to turn on gallery-view so they can see everyone and to choose a person in a box in the middle of their screen.
“Look at the person in that box, right there, and let me ask you a question, Is that person worthy of love and acceptance? Yes or no?
“Now, look at the box to their right,”—and I reiterate in different words—“Do you think the person in that box ought to be forgiven of their faults?
“Look at the person above them. Look at that box. Should that person be about to take a breath of air for a moment and not feel stressed?
“And, look at the person beneath you, Are they deserving of love?”
All agree that all those people deserve this thing of which we are in pursuit.
Then, I pause and ask gently, “And what’s different about you? Don’t you, too?”
In the past, I have asked the individual members of large groups to make quick self-portraits.
Most, while maintaining a stance of internalized shame towards both the self and their art, simultaneously declare others should be proud of (and forgiven for) their less-than-perfect artwork.
It is a curiosity why anyone would not love themselves as much as they could.
Here are the two options:
(1) do this thing in which we are in pursuit, starting right now
(2) not do that
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