And For My Next Trick

I have spent the last four weeks doing next to nothing regarding my search for a higher and better use of my skills. Of course I am still licking my wounds from being let go from managing the community center. On an encouraging note, I have been told the Northwest Neighborhood Federation's Board of Directors was not happy with the decision.


I have laid low this last month. There have been various pieces of business to tend to, but overall it was a low-key month. I liked it. I took a few opportunities to head downtown and have lunch with my former co-workers and a few friends. It felt strange to cross that invisible line in to "the working world," like I was an interloper of sorts or visiting from another country, only to exit and return to this strange new world to which I feel I am still adapting.


My fear and anxiety over whether or not this is the right path persist. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of summoning to quiet the monkey mind and the inner downward spirals that can be a natural part of this process. It really does require a certain level of trust and surrender that the process will unfold as it must and that solutions will reveal themselves in their proper time.


But that does not pay the bills, does it?


Nevertheless, I have been able to calm the nerves with the help of some passages from a few books I am currently reading. The first is from The 8th Habit, by Stephen Covey. It is a piece about conscience vs. ego; a higher way of operating vs. a more stunted one. He writes:


Conscience is the still, small voice within. It is quiet. It is peaceful. Ego is tyrannical, despotic and dictatorial.


Ego focuses on one’s own survival, pleasure and enhancement to the exclusion of others and is selfishly ambitious. It sees relationships in terms of threat or no threat, like little children who classify all people as “He’s nice” or “He’s mean.” Conscience, on the other hand, both democratizes and elevates ego to a larger sense of the group, the whole, the community, the greater good. It sees life in terms of service and contribution I, in terms of other’s security and fulfillment.


Ego works in the face of genuine crises but has no discernment in deciding how severe a crisis or threat is. Conscience is filled with discernment and senses the degree of threat. It has a large repertoire of responses. It has the patience and wisdom to decide what to do when. Conscience sees life on a continuum. It’s capable of complex adaptation.


Ego can’t sleep. It micromanages. It disempowers. It reduces one’s capacity. It excels in control. Conscience deeply reveres people and sees their potential for self-control. Conscience empowers. It reflects the worth and value of all people and affirms their power and freedom to choose. Then natural self-control emerges, imposed neither from above nor from the outside.

Ego is threatened by negative feedback and punishes the messenger. It interprets all data in terms of self-preservation. It constantly censors information. It denies much of reality.

Conscience values feedback and attempts to discern whatever truth it contains. It isn’t afraid of information and can accurately interpret what’s going on. It has no need to censor information and is open to an awareness of reality from every direction.


Ego is myopic and interprets all of life through its own agenda. Conscience is a social ecologist listening to and sensing the entire system and environment. It fills the body with light, is able to democratize ego and reflect more accurately the entire world.


The second piece I am using for guidance comes from Radical Grace, a book my father gave me at Christmas. It is a book of reflections by a Franciscan friar named Richard Rohr. He writes:

Faith is finally to stand in nothingness, with nothing to prove and nothing to protect, knowing itself in an ever-alive charity that urges us to surrender, to let go, to give away, to hand over, to forgive, to walk across, to take no offense, to trust another, to lose oneself – while being quite sure that we are going to find ourselves afterward.


A consumer-oriented, functional and materialistic age finds faith almost impossible. We want religion, but we surely do not want faith. Because if faith is nothing, the faithful person is a nobody. In our shallow culture, trust is called naiveté."


Forgiveness always looks like being soft and conceding to the enemy – even speaking the truth will not win you any votes or look patriotic on the evening news. Faith is nothing in this age and culture. Faith always has been nothing.


I feel these two pieces are enough to sit with for now. Besides, I will be busy soon enough. For the last year-and-a-half I have been helping my girlfriend stand up a new non-profit. Its aim is to use theatre to inform audiences and erase stigma around mental illness. There is a citywide Disability Arts Festival taking place in a few months and our burgeoning group has been selected to participate. We will be putting on a series of shows with a large opening night gala. It requires oodles of planning and organizing. So yes, another complicated heavy lift. I think I have a lesson or two I can apply. Pity this event will not require registration packets.

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© 2020 by Mark Konold