48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘MLK Jr’

Essay #5: interested or invested?

In Love on April 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I woke up this morning thinking about interest. I am not talking about money. Or maybe I am.

I am talking about being interested in thoughts and feelings versus being invested in them, i.e, being affected by them, driven by them, disabled by them.

I accidentally broke the glass in a picture frame. I tugged a towel off a high shelf, which then came crashing down and broke the glass over Yoko Ono. She was not amused. Or maybe she was.

The outpouring of mean, critical, accusatory thoughts shocked me. My mind screamed: Useless, stupid, lazy idiot! What the hell is wrong with you! You should know better!

Scary and dangerous – all those glittery sharp shards.

I decided to experiment. Instead of suppressing these vituperative spewings, I sat and wrote them down. It was hard – I’ve never been comfortable with screaming people. (Is anyone?) But I decided to treat myself and my thoughts with “curiosity and kindness,” as Geneen Roth says in her book, Lost and Found. “Surprise them with compassion,” as Morgan Freeman says, playing Nelson Mandela in the film Invictus.

Eventually, my pulse rate slowed. My breathing deepened.
The glass is shattered and cannot go back to the shape it was.

I thought about how my identity is shattering. How my background level of terror is subsiding. How it’s easier to be around strangers, or in unfamiliar surroundings. How I allow myself to speak up, to perform, to publish these essays.

In my old identity, I was hiding, turning away from love, from people, from connection. The glass kept them out.

In the far distance, I see another way of being:
interested instead of invested
present instead of impressing
compassionate instead of critical.

In the latest Co-op News (April/May 2011), OlyKraut co-founder Summer Bock says “Taking good care of your little world – an arm’s length around you – is so radical and seems so small when there is so much happening in the world… [but] You start taking good care of yourself and over time you can expand your reach. If you can get to where it becomes second nature to nurture yourself, you have stopped buying into the oppression.”

Even Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked on the need to squeeze the slave out of himself.

Nelson Mandela is free now. Are you?