The Crux Of The Matter

512. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

In my head today I am having the most interesting conversation. The crux of the matter is this: could I love myself, truly love myself, if I did nothing for the rest of my life? What if I sat on a park bench tomorrow, gave up all pursuits, let go of all ideas of service or gain, swore off all forms of productivity; could I still love myself?

I am the son of good puritan Iowa farm stock. More than once in my life I have heard people speak of my father as a good man because he was a hard worker. Both of my grandfather’s were blue collar, hard working business owners that “did well” in the world. One was a milkman; he owned a dairy in Monticello, Iowa. The other had a business fixing sewing machines. They belonged to service clubs and sometimes attended church; we don’t talk about those things when we talk about how good they were; we talk about what they did and how hard they worked. We talk about the virtue of their toil.

This is no flippant question. I work with too many people that hate themselves because they are not doing what they want to do or they think they need to do more to be valuable. I am hard on myself if I do not achieve everything on my list each day- as if I didn’t do enough to earn my love.

What if loving myself had no requirements; what if loving myself had no conditions? What if loving myself had no connection to my doing or not doing? What if I did not have to earn it? What if loving myself was the beginning point, the first assumption, the prerequisite,… the structure of the land so that all of my behavior and my actions, like water, followed this path of least resistance?

I do not think I would do less work. I am certain I would work differently. How can I possibly be fulfilled if my center point is anything other than love?

[I’m be on the road and taking a break so I’m dipping into the archives and reworking and reposting some of your favorites. I’ll be back at it in the middle of August]

10 Responses

  1. Sometimes it’s just a shiny bit of wisdom – random & true. Sometimes, it is the lesson I need to hear … and take into my bones & heart … thanks for this one !!

    • It’s my pleasure – it’s become my meditation these days….

      • and here … I come back to think on this again .. and taste it deeper. thanks David. The world is brimming with teachers & tenderers everywhere I look, but coming here stills the noise, and steadies my pace ❤

  2. Ah, David, this is THE question, isn’t it. Something to contemplate each day, live into each moment. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. It’s a practice…

  3. I’ve come to your blog because a friend shared it on FB. And this is a topic that interests me. Have you ever heard/read Alain de Botton? He talks about how we judge people based on what they do. What is the first question we tend to ask? “What do you do?” And we make judgments accordingly. He talks about the snobbery we often have regarding the answer. Anyway, I think what I do is important in as much as it affects others, but it is not the sum total of me.

    And I’ve read over your post a second time. I wonder if all of our doing is about not having to think if we actually love ourselves. I don’t know. Lots to consider in this.

    • I do not know Alain de Botton – thank you for the reference; I will definitely seek and read his work. I’ve been interested lately in all manner of separations – for instance I often hear in political discussions how we need to weigh our interests against our values; beneath is the belief that our values are somehow separate or distinct from our interests. The same applies to doing and being; can my doing ever be separate from my being and is there a sum total of me or anyone that is distinct from relationship/others? Thank you for your thoughts – you’ve also given me much to consider!

  4. Thank you for this dose of practical wisdom! It went down very well with my first cup of coffee and I hope I can remember to apply this important awesome message.

  5. Kismet or serendipity, I’m happy a friend(perhaps the same one who pointed mapelba here) directed me here. This is something I’ve considered and you’ve inspired me to spend more thought on this. It’s well worth it.

    Mapelba brought up an interesting point. I think it’s true; we stay busy so we don’t have to ask ourselves the hard questions. Then we wonder why the center spins out and things like cancer and heart attacks are on the rise.

    Thank you. I look forward to stopping by again.

    • It always surprises me – what I find – when I slow down and challenge the circumstances that stress me. I always find that I am a participant, not a victim to the pace. I tell myself the story of stress, of going faster, working harder…. I’m learning about the story I tell myself, the story of the need for pace, for doing as a path to worth (a Puritan ethic, yes?), and telling myself a different story, grounding myself in a different set of assumptions and location of worth. Thank you for your thoughts! Stop by anytime.

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