THOUGHTS ON SECOND-GUESSING ONESELF

Author of the Harry Potter series J. K. Rowling revealed in an interview that the inspiration for the Dementors came from her bout with depression. In my mind a Dementor was a metaphor for all the stupid, embarrassing things we’ve all done and and that continue to haunt us (usually at 3:00 a.m.)

More than a few times I’ve wishes I could go back and change what I said, what I did, what I should have done but didn’t.

In my previous post I wrote about the possible origins of the fear of rejection. According to author and historian Steven Pressfield, “Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.”

That got me wondering: Could our (I presume) universal sense of being haunted by our pasts be related in some way to the fear of rejection? And if it is, isn’t it time we get over it?

There’s a research thesis in here somewhere but I’ll leave that task to someone with a lot more energy and time than I have. Meanwhile, let’s pull up our big girl pants, go out there, and try something new. What’s the worst that can happen? As long as it’s not illegal, chances are good that the tribe members will not  expel us from the tribe. And if they do, well…it probably wasn’t the right tribe in the first place.

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“Reflections”   mixed media on paper

THOUGHTS ON REJECTING REJECTION


In a blog that he first published in August of 2011 on the subject of rejection, artist Robert Genn quoted  author and historian Steven Pressfield: “Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells.”

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years thinking about rejection, as both a student and a teacher. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much for folks in either category to give up too soon. Goodness knows I have. Try for that date part in the school play? Try for that job? Try for that place on the team? Try for that (fill in the blank)? Hard to do with the specter of rejection haunts you.

I’ve read a lot of theories about why fear of rejection can paralyze us and I’ve formed a few of my own (mostly, I’m afraid, having to do with how I was raised, but that’s a story for another time).  Pressfield’s theory is the first one that’s resonated with me mostly, I suspect, because it doesn’t lay blame anywhere. (See previous sentence.)

My reasoning will sound convoluted to some, but to my way of thinking, it can be easier to fight a fear of rejection if what I’m fighting is what evolution has programmed into me. After all, there’s neither blame nor guilt involved–two traits that to me are like an impenetrable fortress in any of the books by George R. R. Martin.

Pressfield’s quote has empowered me to try a couple of things. Sorry; not ready to divulge them yet. But I’ll let you know if I make any progressIMG_0057A Question of Control

Oil on Canvas

On the Benefits of Aging

I’m curious about my growing “ability” (for lack of a better word) to be content with doing nothing, defined here as the antithesis of accomplishment.

It’s been  a couple of days since my husband and I returned from a short trip to Nanibijou Lodge, about 15 miles east of Grand Marais, Minnesota.

I spent our second afternoon sitting in an Adirondack chair on the shores of Lake Superior, the Lodge a few hundred steps behind me. The dining room would be open for dinner soon. Are there any superlatives to describe food that haven’t been over-used? Awesome; delicious; creative…they all apply, but unlike the food at Nani that they describe, those adjectives are boring.

But for now, until it’s time to go in, the mesmerizing pattern of waves on the beach leave me contented and contemplative.

I find I’m curious about my growing “ability” (for lack of a better word) to be content with doing nothing, defined here as the antithesis of accomplishment.

I’d packed a pair of hiking shoes, my Kindle, a small tin of watercolors, a brush, my leather-bound hand made journal, and my favorite pen. Except for the Kindle, all my other toys remained idle and, with only a few hours remaining in our brief but idyllic stay, I predicted that idle is how they’d remain. I was right.

I was content to watch Lake Superior’s rhythmic waves move in and out of the shoreline.

I was content to count ore boats on their way in and out of Duluth’s harbor. (Current count: zero.)

I was content to sit on the lodge’s red and yellow upper deck, dozing in and out of the chapters of Rabbi Harold Kushner’s latest book, “Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.”

I’ve spent vacation time like this before, but guilt about not using blocks of free time working at something–a chapter in a book I’m struggling with, a hike through woods rich with pine cones begging to be painted–would nag me.

Is it that there’s something about having turned 70 that’s responsible for this new-found sense of peace? Because peace is where I’m at. (By the way, Kushner’s book is quite fine.)

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The dining room at Naniboujou Lodge

COFFEE SHOP SNAPSHOT #8: PDAs

But rarely–and I do mean rarely–have I been so fascinated by people as the two who were engaged in a public display of affection as I was this morning.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am an incurable people watcher. I’m especially fond of folks at the extremed ends of life: the three year old who performs plies in her pink tennis shoes, tutu, and Minnesota Vikings t-shirt; the two 80+ year old gentlemen engaged in an intense conversation about a woman they both remembered from decades earlier.

I enjoy seeing both young and old couples who listen to one another with intensity. Their smiles and their laughter are testimony to how much they enjoy each other’s company.

Everything about his body language said he was crazy about her. His hands on her cheeks (both face and bottom). His arms around her waste (slowly moving up and under her shirt). An embrace worthy of the Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shore line love scene in “From Here to Eternity.”

Years of teaching teenagers have inured me to passionate behavior in public places.

But this was different.

First of all, he looked to be in his mid-twenties. Secondly, unlike those hormone-laden teens, he was well aware of people watching him.

But the biggest difference was her reaction. Everything in her body posture related discomfiture. Tense posture, arms held tightly to her chest…so why did she let this go on for twenty minutes?

There’s a story here. It makes me wish I were a fiction writer.

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