Day 66 of Gratitude – My bowl-shaped life

I’m not an environmentalist, feminist, humanist, capitalist or much of any kind of “-ist.” I believe in some of the principles at the core of some of the -ists listed above, but if called on to shout or crash cymbals or wave banners in the faces of others, I shy away. I’ve thought that meant I lacked conviction – that I was weak. But it actually reflects something very different – it reflects a basic outlook and attitude toward other people.

Everyone sees themselves at the center of the disk of their personal universe – we lack the omniscience to avoid that. The contours of that disk vary, however, from person to person. I came to realize this through a friend who sees life as a constant battle. His disk rises up to form a pinnacle on which he stands, using words, actions, and any tool at his disposal to fight off those who grab at him from below. On his disk, those people are evil or misguided, trying to defeat his superior path of truth. He fights the noble fight and hopes it will lead to others seeing his truth and joining him. This view, I suspect, is typical of an -ist. But the shape of that disk is very different from my own.

My disk is shaped like a bowl. The center forms a base. Not only is the base accessible from the entire bowl, it supports it.  The base doesn’t fight the sides, but rather accepts whatever they bring into the bowl and remains unchanged. That is closer to my approach to life. I accept others as they are rather than demanding they become something else. For me, it doesn’t weaken my beliefs, but it often strengthens them. And I share my beliefs with them in quiet conversation of mutual listening.

Neither approach is right or wrong and neither indicates a greater or lesser commitment to a belief. Rather, they are simply different approaches to others. I don’t lack conviction in my beliefs, but rather my nature drives me to express them in a manner different from that of  an -ist. This understanding allows me to enjoy the benefits of being a bowl.