Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tumbling through the Looking-Glass

I love Alice in Wonderland. I loved it as a child, and I still love it now.

I love Lewis Carroll's language. I love the Cheshire Cat, and the Red Queen. I love the magical idea that little bottles of elixir and little pieces of cake can grow or shrink you. I love the caterpillar.

I love the Dormouse. I love the maze. I love the contrary-wise twins Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. When I was younger I got to act Tweedle-Dee in a stage play my lunchtime theatre group did, of Through The Looking Glass. (And I love the quaint old term "looking-glass". So much nicer than the pedestrian "mirror".)

I think the thing I loved the most then, and still love to this day, is the belief that there are parallel worlds beside us, and that the reality we experience every day is only one way of looking at the world.

I had one of those momentary epiphanies at work today.

I've been struggling recently at work. Mainly on the inside, but it's revealed itself externally in various ways. There's been a lot of change and some of it's been good, and some of it less good. But I've reached a kind of homeostasis now - the angst and frustration of it is more or less constant and has more or less stabilised. It's something I can deal with.

And I had this realisation today, that mostly, the pain is self-inflicted. What is it the Buddhists say? Ego is the root of all suffering?

I have come to the realisation that I can release myself from the internal angst if I can just relinquish my grasp on my ego. All I have to do is understand, and truly accept, that I am not as important as I think I am. Or should be.

That's it. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But it's easier said than done, that's for sure.

It's such a trap to measure your own worth through other people's eyes. I've carefully calculated my value based on other people's view of me, oh yes. I've weighed their compliments and their criticism, and I've run the ruler over my own sense of self, and I've usually come up wanting.

I've felt I wanted more. That I deserved more, dammit. The chance to do more, to be more involved, the opportunity to do better. Responsibility and authority, I've wanted that. I've wanted to earn my colleagues' respect and be valued by my superiors. If only I was given the chance. Like a flame inside a bell jar, I sputter without the oxygen of praise.

Something in me needs a constant flow of achievement. Goals reached, strategies developed, targets surpassed. Mountains climbed, each one higher than the last. Without it, I shrink and wither, and my confidence falters.

And so I've finally realised that what I need to do now, to ride this wave of change, is give that away.

Just.... let it go.

Because in ceasing the struggle with myself and my perceived value, I hope to also lose the sense of injustice. If I am the one who is generating that sense, through my thoughts and my over-analysis of others' consideration of me, then that's something I can change.

Because in the scheme of things, I really am unimportant. And I have the ability to accept that, and put it aside. Change my perspective.

Digging deep inside the rabbit hole, I want to find another world.


CurlyPops said...

Great post. It's so much less stressful when you work to live rather than live to work.

Vanessa said...

I have only 4 words for you - School for Self Knowledge.

It explores and discusses exactly what you are talking about. I have been going to classes there for 2 years now and I am slowly learning to let it go. And to put the ego aside and just BE. It is such an amazing and freeing experience. But yes, incredibly hard too.

Can really relate.
take care, ok?

Jilly said...

I gained a very pertinent Bhuddist insight whilst watching a doco on BBC Knowledge recently:

Emotional pain/suffering is rooted in ones own desires. Once you let go of desire - you release yourself from pain/suffering.

Seems you've been having a similar breakthrough. :) Lets celebrate 'letting go'. Cheers!

kath@retromantic antiques said...

Boy do we work at the same company. I so understand where you are coming from. I too work at a large corp with lots of change. It is hard to keep your sense of self and worth. Sounds like you are on a good path. Good luck. kath

Sarah Lulu said...

I am also a fan of Alice in Wonderland. Nice post.

Tinniegirl said...

Great post. It seems like you and I are considering some of the same great dilemmas at the moment.

Jenaveve said...

I am ever so pleased to be reading this very appropriate post today.

The ego is a force to be reckoned with sometimes - but a reminder like this is most welcome.

Great post!