…illusory joy and genuine sorrow…

“Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.” — Rene Descartes
“Or Not.” — Creative Leap Coach

Do you remember The Three Stooges?  The vaudeville comedy act best known for their physical farce and slapstick?  I mentioned them in an earlier post.  I was trying to illustrate how much we really want to have our cake and eat it too.  How much we want to have all our preconceptions, be self-determining, not really care about others, and make BIG contributions that call attention to just how powerful we are. 

The Stooges make for wonderful comedy.  The three of them … totally immersed in the chaos they create.  Somehow blithely ignorant of just how much they are adding to all the mess.  It’s a great distraction technique.  Someone’s more ignorant than I am!  Most comedy gives the superior position to the audience – the all-knowing and observing view that can see all the foolishness for exactly what it is: misguided self-absorption.

The sad part is finding out just how limiting misguided self-absorption can be.  We want to laugh because no one is ever supposed to be THAT consumed by preconceptions, uncritical behavior, insensitivity others, and over-the-top contributions that only call attention to how powerful they believe they are. 

Stepping out (and stopping) that type of behavior requires listening.

If we listen to the invitations around us, we will be considerably more modest with our actions, more attentive to the people around us, more self-determining of our own purposes and much more judicious with our pre-conceptions.

In yesterday’s blog, I looked at the skills needed to shift away from just these kinds of behaviors.  Do you remember the four skills?

  1. An ability to let go of pre-conceptions. (creative imagination) 
  2. An awareness that we can self-determine what we want. (independent will)
  3. personal and unique invitation to step into that awareness. (conscience) 
  4. A sustained belief that “enough” is genuinely possible. (self-awareness)

Imagine the Three Stooges immersed in the flimsiest situational associations:  a hypodermic needle must be used immediately, any rope must be pulled immediately.  They are “living their actions into images” by default.  

In contrast, a “listening” imagination “unhooks” these defaults. Experience sets up its own expectations; however, if we listen to and dialogue with our imagery, we can shift the imagery to something more purposeful and visionary.  We can “live our actions into images” in ways that convey purpose and vision.  We can let go of the pre-conceptions that hold no value.

Equally, the Stooges’ impulsive activity measures the value which they placed in themselves.  Self-determining what we want establishes value by putting ourselves into the world.   Blind reactivity destroys that.  “Slapped” together decisions and choices create nothing but chaos.  Blind action and empty fulfillment point to the opposite of peace and equanimity (two hallmarks of aligned action).   Integrity, and the value of putting ourselves into the world, becomes an empty vessel once action, contribution, and position reflect blind-determination (a product of choice).

And what about the ability to hold relationship?  The Three Stooges careened around relationship like bonus balls in a pinball machine.  Kinetic energy owes much to proximity.  Relationship (and its invitation) is about closeness and the immediate line of action.  We build on whatever is available in the very next moment.  But without self-determination, the Three Stooges could not hold the personal and unique connections necessary to deepen their relationships.  To shift away from an empty and impersonal relationship to a unique and personal one, we must accept invitations.  We must know “who we are” in the relationship. 

Relationship is about reciprocity – not about ungrounded purpose.  Our conscience demands that we ground our purpose in the relationships around us.  We live for them, they don’t live for us.  Making that distinction is impossible without the involuntary (and unconscious) awareness that we are bigger than ourselves.  The “we-live-for-them” perspective puts who we are outside ourselves in the same way that integrity establishes value.  Action supports relationship which then supports value.  We know “who we are.”  Accept unique and personal invitations.  They confirm reciprocity and ground us to a purpose. 

Finally, a sustained belief that “enough” is genuinely possible moves us back into the world.  For the Three Stooges, their sustained belief was never about “enough.”  It was always about confirming their power.  Using the hypodermic needle or pulling the rope was their connection to something larger than themselves. Their relationship with power became a substitute for their relationship with others.  The immediacy of the exchange is mesmerizing and beguiling because power always has that impact.  It places us in the world even if we have no relationship, or purpose or vision (no conscience, or will, or even imagination).

And, for us, power is never enough.  We have an insatiable desire for more.  So the kinesthetic excitement of watching the Three Stooges comes from learning for ourselves that “enough” is a genuine possibility.  If we have no vision, or purpose, or relationship – we ultimately have no power.  And that’s funny.  We become more aware of power’s limits once “enough” feels like a genuine possibility — when it feels right and correct to us.

You see, “enough” is the only way we have to authentically prove what we are all about.  Power cannot be the substitute for relationship.  No matter how much we may believe that.   The illusory joy is never worth the genuine sorrow.  It erases the invitation to be bigger than ourselves.

Thanks for listening!


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