Tag Archives: Perspective

Absorbing the Words of Alan Watts

The past few days have been pretty rough for me–I’ve caught whatever creeping crud has been going around. It’s amazing how low your expectations for life become when you’re cramping and running to the bathroom at all hours.  I spent much of yesterday curled on the couch, listening to lectures by Alan Watts on YouTube.

It’s a strange thing, being sick while you’re in transition.  I mean, if I were employed (like a responsible person ,says the evil inner critic), I’d still have insurance and wouldn’t be worried about if I have to go to the doctor and if she’ll want to run tests and how much that will cost.  But if I were employed (like a good little do-bee, the wise inner counsel responds), I would be at work right now, adding stress to my already depleted body, because I have run out of paid time off and couldn’t risk missing the work.  Instead of taking care of myself through quiet, rest, and self-care, I’d be making myself sicker with worry and stress and resentment.

So much of what we do as modern Western adults is done in the name of seeking security.  If you study the concept of emotional branding, fear is the Number One motivator used to get people to everything from buy toothpaste to work a soul-killing job.  Fear is a big money-maker for a lot of people, people who aren’t afraid of exploiting human nature for their own gains.

Kathryn and I recently had a conversation about the similarities between many jobs and abusive partnerships.  Both use the same triggers, the same tired old threats and emotional manipulations to keep you in a situation that is ultimately bad for you.

  • “You’ll never find another job/lover if you leave here/me.”
  • “This job is/I am the best you’re ever going to get.”
  • “You won’t survive outside this job/relationship.”
  • “You owe the company/me; you were nothing before this job/me.”
  • “Look at all the training you’ve received from this job/Look at everything I’ve done for you.”

There are other correlations between the two, like the enforced secrecy, the isolationist tactics, the periodic moments of generosity to distract from the more consistent abuses.

And we do this.  We choose this.  We dress up and fight for these jobs, these relationships, that treat us so badly and damage us so deeply.

We find ways to survive.  We make friends.  We form relationships with our coworkers and customers, because that’s who we are as humans.  And we make the best of it.   We tell ourselves we’re doing it for our future, for our security, in preparation for the Deep Dark What-If’s that lurk around every corner in this terrifying world of ours.

But why?  What security is so strong, what safety so guaranteed, that we would trade our health, our dignity, our freedom and self-esteem for just a whiff of it?

Security is an illusion.  Security assumes that something is wrong with us, that something is wrong with the world.  Security also assumes, conversely, that there is something we can do to fix it.

Watts talks about cycles, and about the different viewpoints we have.    He talks about perspective.

What I’m giving myself right now is perspective.

I’m pulling away from the fear and conflict and daily craziness to see the cycles, in hopes that I will gain a greater understanding of who I am and what my place in this cosmos really is.  I’m physically uncomfortable right now.  That is the immediate perspective.   But in the greater perspective, I am free.  I am whole.  And I am joyful.

Peace to you, my friends.