This morning I deviated from my rule of not allowing distractions to precede my writing my morning pages. I saw an Instagram notification on my phone and soon found myself listening to a discussion between Jordan Peterson and another erudite intellectual putting down communism claiming it punishes productivity and rewards passivity.
Then another video appeared - a high ranking veteran US Navy Seal giving a brilliant commencement speech at a UofT graduation ceremony glorifying the arduous military training of the Navy Seals and what it takes to change the world. His speech was intended to congratulate the accomplishment of the 8000 graduating students and inspire them to accomplish more going forward in their lives. I noticed that I felt critical about these high achievers and anxious because my inner critic and pusher were giving me flack for deviating from my original intention to write my morning pages.
I stopped playing the video mid stream and sat down to write my morning pages. A recurring theme in my morning pages is an awareness of my needing to slow down to calm my tendency to rush the experience while at the same time keep going with the flow. This was only accentuated by my reaction to having listened to parts of the two podcasts focussing on the importance of achievements. I slowed down my writing and channelled the stream of thoughts that were coming to me. Judgmental thoughts that Jordon Peterson and the Navy Seal veteran were caught in a Protestant work ethic that they want to impose on the world. Then thinking how interesting it would be to match Gabor Mate with Jordon Peterson in a debate as Gabor Mate has accomplished so much by emphasizing forgiving faults and understanding weaknesses.
Over the past few days I had been reading Gabor Mate's book Scattered Minds about the condition called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and I remembered that he was very candid about his own experience of being a workaholic. He shared that this was both an effect of his ADHD and a contributing cause to his children suffering from the same condition. The positive part of his message is that ADD is not a disease or "disorder" in the medical sense, nor primarily an inherited gene but mostly the result of lack of wholesome nurturing particularly in the early years of one's life and, presumably, that it is possible to heal these wounds and reclaim order in one's life -(I haven't come to that part of the book yet).
As I was writing these thoughts I heard some voices outside. At first I noticed that I felt irritated and reflected on that. Then I heard the voice of a friend and neighbour calling her boyfriend's dogs that she was taking care of. The kindness of her tone melted away my irritation and I thought about how she embodies love pretty much all the time. She lives a pretty simple and modest life and yet I have more respect and appreciation for her than any of the admirable achievers who are making their splash in our world. This reminded me that the first day I began the practice of writing morning pages I wrote that what I valued most was love and I resolved to begin each day with reminding myself of this value.
So what's the connection between achieving and love? Of course, love as a motivation for our achievements promises more worthy achievements but we need to get the order right. Many of us are motivated to achieve in order to get love. This kind of achievement does not fulfill and often leaves destruction in its path. When we attempt to fill our lives with achievements, not to mention compensating empty distractions, we miss out on connecting with ourselves, others, our environment. We need to learn how to live fully rather than trying to fill our lives with stuff or experiences. I recently read about how the opposite of distraction is traction. One of the ways to get traction is to make time for what we most value rather than try to complete our never-ending to do lists.
When I put love first, the rest takes care of itself. Beatles, you were right. Love is all you need.