* These blogs are dissertations based off the transcribed recorded audio from my Dharma talks at each individual class. Written by Billy Potocnik in 2017
Welcome yourself to this moment, this place, this space, in this body. Just this simple acknowledging gesture of ourselves in this moment gives ourselves the opportunity to live in the now. When we start doing these little deliberate acts, we’re honoring the changes in our life, as subtle as they may be, we are honoring that and honoring ourselves as dynamic human beings.
The question of, “Who am I?” “What am I?’ Those are such powerful questions. Sounds like one of those existential questions of which there is no answer, and I think that's probably true. “What am I?” “Who am I?” is changing all the time. We like to label ourselves, don't we? “I'm like this, I'm not like this, I have a hard time with this, I am really good at this. Ah, that's not my thing, that's kind of my thing, that's not really my thing.” I know because I do it too. I don't consider myself a country music fan. It kind of bugs me to say this, but it’s true. There are some country music songs that I like, but I don't really like country music very much even though I love music. You see I'm labeling myself, right there, I’m kind of putting myself in a box. More importantly, perhaps I’m not being open. Of course, this is a silly little example and I won’t lose much sleep over “not liking country music”. But, perhaps the bigger lesson for us to glean from this is the introspection and and awareness of when we are labeling ourselves. Walking that fine line between opinions and preferences and recklessly pigeonholing ourselves takes skill and the courage of habitual self-examination. It’s not a burden, it’s a gift. Self-examination in this situation can remind us that we are more than just our opinions and thoughts (In fact, we aren’t our thoughts. But we will save that for a different time). The labels can often not just separate us from each other, but also from our true self. When we spend too much energy - consciously or subconsciously - compartmentalizing and labeling ourselves, we are building a wall between ourselves and our extension into the world.
Maybe part of the human condition is limiting ourselves even though somewhere we know that we are boundless and infinite. We have to be careful with how we decide to look at ourselves. “Who am I?” has a very very dynamic answer - always changing, shifting, and incorporating new information and experience. Who am I?” right now can be different than who I am in about 20 minutes or tomorrow. That saying, “if I'm not growing, I'm dying” is so true. If we are not challenging ourselves to pick up new books to read and listen to new music, watch films that move us, and other things that inspire us then we may not be allowing ourselves to be open to the bigger “conversations” not just with each other, but with ourselves. For many of us, there are very few deep “conversations” between 9 and 5 because we’re so programmed to thinking that it’s “work time”. As a result, anything that comes up in that period of time that didn't fall under the category of “work”, we just really don't have much time for. Could be a friend in need, could be a conversation that just spontaneously started happening and you had to cut it short and I get to that next “important” thing, etc. I know everybody is “very important”, we are all “very important”. Everybody is not like the yoga teacher that dicks around all day like me and gets to have heartfelt and fun conversations. Not completely accurate, but
you get the point. Think about how much of our life we spend cutting things off because it doesn't fit in to the next category or didn’t have the a “result” or a “goal” that we desired or thought we wanted. How many conversations have we missed out on? Think about all of your relationships. When you look back on them, you may realize that you completely cut that person off . . . friendships, love, family, because you just couldn't find a way to fit more life into that “little box”. We couldn’t find a way to shrink that relationship down, categorize it, and file it away with a label on it. Instead of expanding, we shrink. Sadly, we miss out.
I have a 15-year-old son (a 15-year-old step-daughter, too). My 15-year-old son struggles with grades, although he’s a voracious reader and a really smart kid. So I have to be on him, all of the time. One of the things I said to him was, “Do not shrink your dreams to fit inside your disappointments, failures, and fears.” We do that all the time if we think about it. Every time we decide to try to fit life into a tiny little box, that's what we are doing. The big dream of life - crazy, scary, and awe-inspiring as it may be - is often shrunk down into something more “palatable” that we think we can understand. We do that with people, right? Instead of seeing the magic in these human beings . . . I can look at every single one of you and I call tell you right now - I’m not blowing smoke - I know that every single one of you could tell a story to make us cry and laugh and everything in between. I know every single one of you, if you're brave enough to be vulnerable, and we had all the time in the world - we could go around in a big circle and each of you share something that would break our hearts that came directly from your own heart. If we had the time to talk, to understand, to listen, to hear - we would find out truly how beautiful and amazing you are. It's easy to see love; it's easy to see the very best in everyone around you. Just look. Just listen. What could be more important than these conversations?