Friday, March 01, 2013

What we all want

I'm going to suggest that there are four things that everyone wants, and that you can chart them on a quadrant.  The first axis has autonomy (control over one's own life) at one extreme and relationship (connections with other people) at the other.  The second axis has living comfortably with one's body at one extreme and escaping the confines of one's body at the other.  Everything that people want falls into one or more of the quadrants.

It seems that anything we want serves one quadrant at the expense of the others. If we want autonomy for our bodies (perhaps the ability to support ourselves financially), that comes at the expense of escaping the body through connection with others (perhaps through reading fiction). If we want to be physically connected (to hang out with people we like), that comes at the expense of setting our thoughts free.  It's obvious that we cannot simultaneous move to both ends of the axis.

It's obvious, but it is not always true. Dancers and athletes seek to transcend their bodies by being present in their bodies. Leaders blur the lines between their own vision and shared vision, making room for genuine connection and genuine autonomy. Great teachers hold onto their own state and knowledge as part of their desire to connect and stretch.  It takes fierce determination to make progress towards both ends at once, but it is not at all impossible.

It's easy to deny part of yourself to serve a particular goal. It's productive to sometimes chart what you're doing on a graph like this and ask yourself: what would be it like to want fulfillment in all quadrants?




No comments: