This would be post number 2 in the “Finding Your Own North Star” series. In the book Martha Beck describes two sides of ourselves: the essential self and the social self. Your essential self is your guidance system (I would also refer to it as your higher self), the part of you that directs you to your path and just seems to know where you are meant to go. The social self is the side of you that conforms to the “rules” that are put upon you by your family, school, church, peer group, and society in general. The social self can definitely work in your favor, but it can also hold you back and keep you in fear. It tends to enjoy the path of least resistance.
For the most part I agreed with Beck’s description of essential self. She did however lose me for just a bit by listing off a few not so nice things the essential self might want to do. I can’t remember her exact examples but she included things equal to slapping the tyrannical boss when they criticize you or rear-ending the guy in traffic who cuts you off. I interpreted those type situations as very negative and I believe that our essential selves are essentially good. So to give the author the benefit of the doubt I will imagine for a minute that your essential self does scream at you to slap your boss. (Now remember it is highly unlikely that your social self will let you do this.) If you follow through on this action maybe it will have positive results for both of you, maybe you discover an amount of courage you never knew you had and maybe your boss learns that he/she cannot push people around. In the end you are both better people because of it.
Last night I woke up at 2am thinking of more examples of the way our essential selves work. Here are my two favorites.
Mark and I watched a PBS program about the TV show “60 Minutes” last night. They interviewed a guy who now works for the program. He was 12-years-old when he fell in love with “60 Minutes” and knew he wanted to work on the show one day. He was probably in 7th grade when he had this revelation. I’m sure his social self went on a rampage telling him he was not supposed to be crazy over a news show…he was supposed to be interested in girls (other than Leslie Stahl), sports, music, and action movies. Obviously his essential self won in that argument and he is on the path that was meant for him. He’s making his dreams come true and making news on the best show for interesting news stories.
Your essential self’s role in relationships is another interesting example. Your essential self falls in love and wants to go dancing, stay up all night talking religion and politics, and spend days having wild sex. Your social self says wait just a minute here…you don’t know how to dance, talking religion and politics is a no-no, and wild sex: NEVER! Instead it decides you should take things slooowww, date, and get to know each other. Your social self sees the other person as a means to living happily ever after, while your essential self realizes they’re purpose might be to simply show you how to happily live in that moment. Your social self clings to relationships out of fear, while your essential self knows that if one foundation crumbles it is simply clearing the way for a new and stronger one to be built.
So I invite you to search your heart and figure out what your essential self wants you to do. If it is something little like say taking a pole dancing class, go for it! If it is something huge and life changing, ask for guidance on the right steps to get you there (I guarantee if you are open it will happen when the time is right).
As I told you yesterday, I have been a bit out of the political loop since the election ended. I do, however, know that Obama is working on the issue that is currently most important to me. Even before I paid attention to politics, I have had a fear of being without health insurance. Mark and I got married when I was 23 years old and after the ceremony I was officially dropped from my parents’ insurance. I was very aware that I would be uninsured until I found a job with benefits and that scared the crap out of me. Within a week after our wedding and moving to Columbus, Ohio, I started to get sick. It was strep throat, but I didn’t know it. I waited and waited to get better (thinking that without insurance there was no way for me to see a doctor), when finally the pain was unbearable. I had no choice but to find healthcare. I ended up at the public health clinic and since our income was only $800 a month, I qualified to see a doctor. He didn’t even need to swab me to see I had strep(though he did) and gave me antibiotics that knocked it out in a day. I started working a few weeks after that and haven’t been without health insurance since. But it remains one of the issues that drives me to vote.
A family member of mine has arthritis and has struggled with health issues because of it for years. He has always been insured but at various times has had to fight for his coverage with bills as large as 25K hanging over his head. Another family member lost her husband unexpectedly, which was a major shock. In the midst of mourning and trying to figure out how her life would go on without him, she also lost her health insurance (since he was the carrier). Her job does not offer benefits and she has had to go out and find her own insurance, which I am certain does not offer the coverage she had with her husband’s. Over the past couple of years my daughter has suffered from asthma-type symptoms. My biggest fear with getting the official diagnosis of “asthma” is that she’ll have a “pre-existing condition” on her record for life, so that when she gets new insurance anything that slightly resembles an asthma symptom could be refused coverage. Even the doctor decided it was better to watch her over the next few years before he would officially make that diagnosis.
But like I said yesterday, the two sides of politics feed on our fears. For me, I watch a movie like “Sicko” and decide that the insurance companies’ power over our healthcare system is scarier than that little girl crawling out of the TV in “The Ring, ” but my Republican friends might watch it and say that Michael Moore is a jackass and the whole movie is just propaganda. Listening to NPR this morning I heard a man say that a universal healthcare system would “give minorities better healthcare than whites.” I hear this and believe this man has been lied to and manipulated, but I know for a fact there are people in my life who probably believe and feel the same way as him.
Again, I don’t know the answer to this problem, if there is one. The power on this seems to be so far out of the hands of average citizens. I can honestly say that I have no idea what Obama’s plan is (remember from yesterday…head buried in sand). I do know that it is expensive and I could bet that it serves somebody or some business with money and power greater than mine. There is a quote I’ve read and heard before…something about judging a society by the way they treat the least among them. I hope one day our healthcare system will reflect that we are a great society!
This is another poem from the old college collection. Not sure of the date though.
Living without boundaries
Going to the limits
Wait, there are no limits
Stepping off into a dream
With life and freedom
Entering a place unlike society
And society is there
But wait, is it time
For a reality check?