Thursday, February 19, 2015

Are you lookin' at me?

Oklawaha River; Ocala National Forest, Florida

“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”  -  Louis Nizer

“It is when you lose sight of yourself that you lose yourself.  …The world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image…”  -  C. Joybell   

     I just completed a series of articles on a group of people who travel around the United States encamping in forests.  I learned much from the experience, but the reactions of people after the series was complete was telling.

     I received several hate emails from Rainbow folks claiming that I had stereotyped their friends and that I should remove my posts immediately.  Now, I have received hundreds of positive responses, but while I was exchanging comments with a couple of those who were claiming I didn’t have permission to be there or that I had taken photos improperly, I found myself getting quite defensive.  I was careful to not let it show, but it brings back up an old issue with me.  I000 people can praise my efforts, but if there is so much as one that criticizes I get defensive and hostile.  I have never really figured out why I do this except that I still have a good bit of egoic “people pleasing” that is just waiting for the proper circumstances for me to beat myself up.  As soon as I catch it I can just laugh the matter off and look at the substance of the folks complaints. 

      But the incident brings up a much deeper issue.  Most of us don’t like to have our photographs taken to start with, and we are terrified about having a “mirror held up to us” by someone who observes us from a neutral standpoint.  We will go to extremes to avoid having to look at how others see us – we might work ourselves to the bone to acquire material things that we think prove we are “worthy,” we might hide in offices and gated communities, we may find groups that share our weaknesses and entrench ourselves in them - the list goes on and on. 

     And why do we so fear the “mirror?”  After all, if we are doing the right things to the best of our ability we have nothing to fear.   Perhaps it all funnels down to that deepest of age-old fears – deep in our psyche we are terrified that we will be exposed as unworthy and abandoned by our fellows.  In this instance, it points out to me how hypocritical I can be.  The criticism of a couple would have me fly off the handle to protect “myself,” all the while scorning those that cannot stand looking at my observations of them.  We are fascinating creatures.  And one thing I know for sure – whatever I see in you – my brothers and sisters – I really see in myself.  You are merely a reflection – what I see in you is what I see in myself.

Today, may I know humility.

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David Emch


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