Back to Me – and You

Ramblings of an Old Flower Child

One of the salient themes in my life has been the need to know. So I have always asked a whole lot of questions. Come to think of it, life seems to be a long sequence of questions; some answered and most not. Even with answers, new questions have emerged. As social beings, it is natural to look to others for clues, or answers, along the way. So I, along with everyone else, have looked to others for leadership in various arenas.

Some people with answers write books about their version of things. I’ve run into problems with that. I’ll always remember doing research on Tantra for my Religious Studies Master’s Degree. What a horribly bastardized topic! After extensive analysis of information on the web and various books, I realized that any fool can write about any topic without having the faintest clue of what he or she is talking about. Yet people quote books as evidence of something being ”true” all the time.

Some leaders, often predatory in nature, find support from the hapless masses and parade around as an elected elite. I happen to be one of those people who actually does her own research into topics that political opportunists may promulgate. The sad evidence is that most of the the time, these leaders are driven solely by personal agendas that fly in the face of the common good. Every time I see Harper on the news, I feel revulsion. And he’s the head of my country, i.e. elected! I’m not sure how someone like him succeeds (beyond diabolic marketing) yet I’m confident it does not correlate with honesty, wisdom or regard for the good of the country.

In a similar vein, those with a narcissistic and sometimes evil slant, may establish a religious cult or subvert a devout, yet susceptible group. The recently convicted polygamist and pedophile, Warren Jeffs, comes to mind here. In cases when someone wants to push his or her righteousness down my throat, I run for the hills.

The bottom line is that in my experience, people with supposed answers (especially in arenas of power, namely knowledge and politics) are irresponsible in flogging their tainted wares. It turns out that nobody has viable answers!

I have various working theories on why so many of our “leaders,” with their misinformation, reified version of truth, bad advice and self-centered intentions, are listened to by anyone at all. One possibility is that people often abdicate their responsibility in finding their own answers. They listen to anyone who sounds like they have any answer at all. It’s just easier than doing the work for themselves.

Another angle is that our complex and demanding modern society has a kaleidoscope of issues vying for our attention. It’s overwhelming! I just can’t keep up with all the new theories and information about any and everything. Sometimes, the information overload is too much and I end up like a deer in the headlights, bedazzled and frozen. I end up having to pick and choose only a few from the many, lest I spread myself too thin.

When I look for a teacher, guide or guru, I search for someone impeccable. That translates into “walking the talk.” It’s a fiduciary responsibility, as far as I’m concerned. If you want to influence people, you better have your shit together, lest you add to the confusion and nonsense in the existing mix. A quality of stellar leadership that shows up in various guises is a peaceful, almost quiet core. That quality seems to go hand in hand with humility. (Interestingly, that element seems to be a staple in the humanitarian service sector where power is not a central theme.) At the same time, there exists a sublime confidence devoid of ego. It looks like a certain “owning” of one’s space and purpose. The whole package, i.e. humble, honest and fearless, often yields a balanced and powerful model for me.

As a result of not finding very many people, nor groups, who hold up to any in-depth scrutiny, I increasingly keep to the periphery. The flaming extrovert in me has morphed into a more inner directed listener. I look for insight in silence. My gaze and ear is turned evermore inward. Yet I’m still learning to disregard what others may think when my heart guides me to something controversial.

When I think of a personality that kicks ass with a certain audacious style, the comic character, Maxine, comes to mind. This elderly, stogie smoking, disheveled and often be-deckled in a housecoat and curlers, woman is comfortable in her inappropriate skin, as she flings scathing one-liners at her readership. You get the feeling that this gal has been around the block a few times. Her answer is to step away from the convoluted game altogether.  As she celebrates who she is, Maxine would most likely give the finger to pontificating critics. The quintessential Maxine is depicted as skidding across the final finish line with chocolate in one hand and wine in the other, looking like she’s been rode hard and put away wet, whilst yelling, “It may not have been pretty, but it was a hell of a ride!”

The ultimate message that I get from Maxine is that she is authentic. While life is supposed to be fully embraced and enjoyed, in the process she takes responsibility for herself only. Particularly important to me is that she minds her own business. She’s only in your face if you push her on her turf.

In keeping with the Maxine model, I wonder if the world would be much more harmonious if everyone minded their own business. I appreciate the need for relational leadership at times. Yet the dynamics, whether it be on a small or large scale, could still be based on a “Namaste” (I honour the Self in You) platform. Namaste acknowledges our separation as an illusion as it intonates, “What I do to you I do to myself.”

I hope and trust that our species is moving towards a society that inherently appreciates the power and necessity of working together as one. Charity and emergency relief efforts subsume this holistic awareness. Cooperatives in business spring from this approach. Great human feats have been accomplished primarily through heartfelt cooperation and positive regard for one another. It all comes down to positive self regard (love of self) and in turn, consideration for others. The rest is details.

Helena is a Counsellor, Special Needs Worker and Writer.