There are things we know, and there are things we think we know. And both of those things get mixed up so easily that depending on our circumstance, become something different entirely. There are moments in everyday life that seem so clear, like waking up and eating breakfast and answering emails and calling home to mom. Those are the things that we know how to do, and we do them. Then there are things that we think we know, like how to succeed and how to act and react, and why we are driven to do those things. But in truth, we know very little. Our knowledge of life is so very limited, and becomes even more so when we think we know that which we cannot.
I’ve half felt like a zombie these last few days, not just because I traveled 35 hours home from Australia, but because of all the emotions running through me after a really good, albeit chaotic trip. I think perhaps I learned more about myself on this trip than ever before, and I think that is because I became acutely aware of the things I think I know…and realized I do not know them half as well as I think.
Perhaps because of traveling with family, or perhaps because the end of the year is closing in on us, or maybe both, I have felt more introspective. I have been more judging toward myself. I found myself questioning why more, and that is always a good thing. But in doing so, I found flaws. I don’t want to be the person who lives life for the success or the money or the whirlwind of a fast-paced traveling lifestyle. I want the opposite so much I sometimes cringe at living in a society that applauds those things. But this trip has taught me to step back from it all.
It started at one of the workshops I was hosting. I was telling one of the attendees about a silly story, something to do with getting kicked out of a location for one of my photo shoots, and suddenly the topic of entitlement came up. She had said to me, so nicely and meaning so well, that I deserved to be there to take that picture because I would do something good with the resulting image. And we laughed about that, and I rolled my eyes (as I do) and we moved on. But the more I thought about that the more I realized that I shouldn’t be laughing or making a joke of deciding that I am better than someone else.
After much assessment the next few days I realized that entitlement was exactly my problem. If I felt upset at a situation, it was almost always because I felt entitled to something that I was not getting, be it love or affection or respect. Every single time I became angered, which I decided was far too often, it was out of my own personal decision that I was not getting something I deserved…not that I needed, mind you, but that I deserved.
The moment we believe that we deserve more than someone else is the moment we begin to suffocate the light within. I have thought about this word so much over the last few days: entitlement. And in doing so, I have realized it is largely the root of most negativity in the world. A person leaving a nasty comment to someone else on the internet feels entitled to do so with small regard for the other person. Someone bullying someone at school feels a sense of power over someone else, and so they flex that muscle. Two lovers in an argument each want to prove a point without considering that neither is more entitled than another.
I began to fear that entitlement had taken over in my life recently. In fact, I am sure that it had. But something I believe in above all else is our capacity for change, and so I’m taking that ticket out. We choose how we react to all situations. Here are two of my favorite quotes on the matter by Eckhart Tolle:
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”
What incredible wisdom in these words. They are comforting to me and I will wear them around my shoulders like a childhood blanket, making me feel protected.
Now that I am back home, out of the chaos that was too many plane trips, long lines in customs, rushing to and from airport gates and sitting in hours of traffic, I find it much easier to appreciate my experience. Those times, when I was sick with chaos, I found it difficult to center myself. I have no plane to catch, or workshop to set up for, and I am sitting quietly in front of my computer with my cat purring on my lap…so yes, it is easy to feel calm now. But in doing so, I prepare myself for another trip. I prepare myself to be a better person next time, and right now. I prepare myself to forget the face of entitlement and instead to embrace my circumstance. To be more grateful for all things. To share love with all things. To know intimately the genuine happiness that comes from love.
And so, if I am making any point in writing these words, it is to say that we are all flawed, and that I recognize my own. It is to say that we are all in need of love, but not without giving it wholeheartedly first. We are all in search of inner peace, but not without discovering our demons when we cross that threshold.