Acting is not Action

When you have lost your way, when things don’t make sense, when whatever you try to do seems to lead around in endless circles, stop. No, I can’t stop! you say, I must keep trying – I’ll fall too far behind!

Stop anyway. Save some energy for silence and allow your brain to rest. The universe, 13 billion years in the making thus far is still unfolding, so you can spend a few minutes to regroup.

Intersection of two roads? Stop. Better yet, Stop, Look and Listen!

Have you not had those clarifying experiences where you struggle unsuccessfully with a problem late into the night until you finally give up, go to bed, “sleep on it” and surprisingly wake up, either in the middle of the night or the next morning, with the obvious answer right in the forefront of your mind? Once the new perspective is clear, you wonder how anyone could miss a solution so obvious. We all know that sequence. Most times there is no need to wait for sleep since an appropriate solution hopefully will arrive from just taking a few deep breaths, or from walking away for a few minutes.

There is a Chinese proverb that claims,

“Tension is who you think you need to be. Relaxation is who you are.”

There’s probably some truth in a saying like that just as there’s some truth behind the theory that our real person is not the mask/ego persona we humans project to others (and sadly, many times to ourselves.) Psychologists tell us we present these masks to compensate for perceived characteristics in ourselves which we wish were different. Apparently the school kid who is always bragging and showing off may actually be indicating a low self esteem. College professors and scientists sometimes feel as if they need to posture their appearance as haughty and aloof, perhaps with a pipe and tobacco, adding a tweed jacket to complete the image. Years ago, a preacher would almost always be dressed a suit and tie when delivering a Sunday sermon, but today a trendy young male preacher will be dressed in jeans, or anything but a suit and tie.

These images, often intentional, send messages to the local audience. They can become habit, persisting subconsciously if not present subconsciously right from the start. The point here is there seems to be evidence of a kind of hierarchy within the human person where the will, a higher level of the person, can decide which persona will be presented to the public. Likewise a person can act the part, for example pretending to be happy when sad, or vice versa. The will, much like a stage director, decides which character is center stage. But over time the acting persona itself can become so prevalent that the will is no longer needed to call upon the actor. The character simply takes center stage due to a process which has become predictable and comfortable to some if not all the people involved.

We need not be qualified experts to become aware of such entities. Knowing they exist is enough to motivate us to re-take charge of our own faculties. The masks we wear have been learned. We probably like them, but every so often they snarl our ability to function, as the authorized person within demands the center stage. Hopefully we recognize those confusing and frustrating times as opportunities to lead us to an action, such as taking a walk to quiet the mind or, symbolically, vacating the whole stage for regrouping later.

In humans, the real person within has the right to ask all the acting characters to take a break while we treat ourselves to a deep breath, a walk alone among the flowers, acquire some time to sleep on it. It is in these times of rest that the enormously powerful and complex human mind can stop itself from acting, calculating and ever-planning what’s next, in order to give itself a chance to breathe, to just be. From this fresh start the original structure of internal authority is reset allowing the quality of behavior to improve.

About hamiltonstation

I grew up in New England, graduated from college in upstate NY, spent a few years as a small boat officer with the U.S. Navy in the Western Pacific, then worked 35 years as an industrial automation engineer. My retirement jobs, teaching - 8 years in a public high school as a special needs educator, 3 years as a kayak guide for a small cruise ship company on the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and Canadian Maritimes and 10 years as a ocean kayak guide for a large outdoor outfitter in Maine. For 30 years, my wife and I volunteered in maximum security state prisons, helping inmates with their literacy, developing of the spiritual side of personality, and learning mature social skills - all to eventually assist with their future re-integration into society. My wife and I have 2 adult children. We are now living in a community of friends and continue with our craft and outdoor hobbies of hiking, biking and sea kayaking.
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