Tuesday, December 20, 2011
There's hardly anything I love more than when I change my mind about some belief I've held close to my heart over a long period of time. Especially as I grow older, I'm a lot less interested in identifying with my values and beliefs, hence if some window opens that brings in a fresh breeze of new thought, I tend to be delighted rather than appalled.
Devoting oneself to any set of beliefs is a form of mental stinginess, it's stuckness, inertia. When my mind opens to a new way of thinking, it's refreshing, slightly unsettling, but good, really good.
You know I'm not talking about the finest of human values like compassion, the desire to do good deeds and care about others. Those qualities are expansive and generous. What I'm referring to are societal standard thought forms, like "Republicans are bad," or "All corporations are evil," or "Every politician is corrupt."
Or ... "I hate the holiday season."
That's the thought form that has quite suddenly and miraculously shifted in my mind and heart. By suddenly I mean over the last few years. I used to be the ultimate holiday season grinch. I began complaining long before the season arrived, made myself absolutely miserable from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Yesterday between clients I looked back through old journals to see just how vociferous I used to be about what I believed was an unalterable fact: that I would always suffer during the holidays because I have no husband, family in town, children or a reason to celebrate any one of the festivals of light that take place at this time of year.
I felt sad for the younger Reya, suffering so much and for no reason whatsoever. Gracious! All that's different now, whether because I'm in the happy hour of life, or due to years of receiving the wholesome benefit of Chinese medicine or something I can't identify.
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, a minor holiday in Judaism that got plumped up because of having to compete with Christmas. Friends are coming for dinner, so I'm going to make potato latkes. Fun! On Thursday I'll join a group of neighbors at the Capitol Christmas tree to sing carols. On Christmas Eve I'll be at an open house here in the 'hood, and on New Year's Day I've been invited to a "big-ass buffet" at a friend's house in Dupont Circle.
I would never pass up a big-ass buffet, I mean really! Would you? It will be a lovely conclusion to the lovely holidays this year.
Devotion to a set of entrenched ideas, especially if they make you miserable, is sadly ridiculous, yes? I say yes. I used to think that sticking to my guns, as it were, meant I had integrity. If that doesn't reflect a bit of twisted thinking, I don't know what does.
Turning now from reflecting on old thought forms, it's on to solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
The leaves are long gone now which makes visible almost the entire dome of the Capitol from the east side of Lincoln Park.