The Hardest Lesson I Ever Learned (am learning)

Worth without action. Value without a resume to fall back on. That BEING itself is enough.

Simple enough concept and incredibly difficult to internalize. Even relatively easy to see about people we love and enjoy. They don’t have to do or be anything for us to love them (and if they do need to do those things to earn our affection, we might need to rethink our definitions of love). This is especially true when I think about my nephew who made his transition almost 9 years ago. I don’t remember many specifics of the various things he did, but his being, his presence, what he felt like to be around, this I remember vividly. The fact of his being was the gift. All the activities and trails he left were tiny subsets of that powerful being.

Getting sick and experiencing long periods of inactivity really messes with one’s self-worth. Culturally, we value what people do, have done, will do. To have “doing” taken away, as in the case of physical debilitation, sent me into a very serious line of inquiry that continues to be very difficult, but now after many years of this question holding powerful attendance in my life, is completely changing the playing field of who i think i am and how i relate to the world. Very difficult. Very freeing.

Even now, as I continue to be fully committed to vibrating at the highest frequency available to me as my primary objective in this life, every now and again I want to take score. If I allow myself to take score, I invariably open a can of worms and have a long and arduous journey before I can square with who I am again. Most of the time my scorecard looks at all of the things I haven’t done and condemns my life. Occasionally, I compare myself favorably to someone or something else and my dreaded companion of egotism drops in for a spell, pees on the rug, and generally makes a mess that is no fun to clean up.

Twice this week I’ve encountered stories of people really struggling with this concept. One has MS and is losing mobility, so every bit of mobility she has is super important to her, while those in her life are trying to move in and ‘get things done’ for her. Their kind efforts are undermining her dwindling sense of independence and it’s harming the relationships. Another friend is¬†quadriplegic and even after many years (and great spiritual achievement) still struggles with value without doing.

These seem to me to be cultural problems. You don’t have to look far to see that culturally we value achievement. I think there may have been a time when that arose from a balanced place, but I believe it’s gone off the deep end. Intrinsic value is a concept that has been stolen from us, individually and collectively. It’s been replaced by values that benefit a system dedicated to progress at any cost, which has had remarkably destructive implications for individuals (99%), society, and the earth.

This idea of wholeness, of being enough *just as you are*, of being worthy regardless of your resume, is completely radical to the value system I grew up in (and I believed my parents and community to be pretty progressive).¬†Once, when someone asked me what i wanted to do with my life and I said, “I don’t know,” he replied, “well, think of the thing that you’ve learned that has been of the most value to you, and figure out how to share it.” I thought of travel and cultural appreciation, and started a nonprofit to teach kids about culture. And that’s always been a passion, but now, I think wholeness is that thing.

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