In the last year, I have become really cognizant of the things or ideas that people generally and openly subscribe to. We all know these things to be defined as individual worldviews, value systems or one’s schema. We all have a prescribed believe system that was handed down to us from our parents/caregivers in the childhood environment we are most familiar with. Some views are so simple people would not care if you subscribed to them or not. Other views can be so important to self or others, they have an effect that is rivaled only by religious dogma. When I was a child, my mother would open a new bag of sugar and placed the unused portion into a countertop canister. When visiting a friend’s house recently, I noticed that her unused sugar was in the door of her refrigerator. Immediately, I asked if this was an inadvertent by-product of a busy life? She replied “No” and said that her mother always did it. When I thought about the unused sugar in own my house today, I realized that it was on the countertop, just like my mother used to do it. It made me laugh a little when I realized how our worldviews can be taught to us so indirectly, yet become a rigid part of our personal make up.
I have been a fan and practitioner of “Hot Yoga” for the last year or so. I have been inviting my friends and co-workers to join me over the last 6 months at a record rate. A few people have taken me up on my offer, but very few have taken to it like I have. I guess my experiences lead me to openly experience the practice of Yoga and embrace the benefits. Some of those that I invited seemingly wanted to be able to say, “Yeah… I do Yoga”.
This past week I invited someone new to try Yoga with me. We exchanged mobile numbers and planned to schedule a day to practice at the studio that I patronize. We shared a few funny and light-hearted exchanges over approximately two days. The second day she asked me (via text) about the family that I mentioned a few nights before at a party. I said, oh you mean my wife and kids? She responded after a long pause and expressed how disappointed she was that I was married. Her interest in me was more than flattering and I expressed that very directly. She went on to tell me that this was something that she did not want to be a part of. Naturally, I was wondering what it was that she thought she was becoming a part of. So, I asked and she replied, “You’re Married”. Well, needless to say this came as no surprise to me, but I sent a few more dichotomous texts that could be seen as playful or flirtatious. She of course chose to see them as the latter. I wished her a good evening after a few more messages.
The next day, I sent a text to her just to wish her a good start to her day after she had reportedly had a rough/busy day a few days before. The text went unrequited. This puzzled me more than I wished it to. Perhaps my character was in question on her part. Even though I had not intended our simple message transactions to go any further than playful banter. In any case, I had to get to the bottom of it. After all, my character is everything to me. So, I requested a brief conversation from her through a text message that was eventually granted. In our exchange I expressed my desire to not be misunderstood and she expressed her desire to not get involved with a married man. Again, I’m thinking… how in the Hell did we end up on the verge of an “involvement” per se? I attempted to set the record straight, but that lack of control over my mouth hanging open was fast becoming an obstacle to my desire to communicate my thoughts. She relayed to me that if she were married, she would not want her husband making random female friends without her knowledge. She said that she would have to meet any of the women he would potentially befriend. She went on to say that she was a spiritual person and her professional character meant everything to her. Now my mind is spinning out of control. I was wondering: (1) who has time to screen all of their spouse’s friends and why would you use your valuable time for these efforts as a rule? (2) Does getting married mean that you can no longer accept friendships, go to yoga, or be a decent human being to others away from the office? (3) What in the hell is being “spiritual” have to do with being friendly, talking and sharing experiences (beer, yoga, joke or the like)? (4) Does meeting your spouse’s friends establish an unseen preventative measure that prevents unethical relationships or cheating? There is such a thing as history that fails to supports this foolishness, but that’s just my point of view. If she was referring to religion, was that her little self-imposed 11th Commandment? I highlighted the fallacies that I perceived in her logic and quickly distanced myself from the subject and ended the call.
In the last 60 seconds of the conversation, I realized how rigid and convoluted her thinking was and immediately I felt a bit of remorse for her. Somehow she had become a prisoner of her own dogmatic belief system. She was truly unwavering when faced with a more balanced point of view. I imagined a person who works, goes home and spends an inordinate amount of time alone. I imagined that she meets very few people who have the time or inclination to peer through the crowded little peephole whereas on the other side, an entire world of experiences, friendship and vicarious learning exists.
Value systems are important as they help us to avoid situations whereas we could be labeled as deviant by society at large. However, some systems are convoluted as they have become infected by competing religious beliefs, molested by those with their own issues of control. The best value systems are those that allow us to be the best “Self” we can be regardless of the company we are in and allow us to live a full life with vigor and the occasional surprise along the way. These points of view are “my own” and based on my own set of values. It makes me wonder if people truly understand what it takes to be happy and if they truly know how to define happiness. I believe that happiness is a continuum with increasing degrees of greatness, but how far we travel along that continuum or spectrum is directly related to the values that define us. There are some things that are valued and other things that are truly valuable. It’s important to discern differences. I believe that we should have an ever-expanding mind, as we become addicts of learning. Whenever this is not the case… “We’re Screwed”!!!