To Have a Center
To have a center as a person, is to be doing something you enjoy, and that something makes you feel stronger and wiser.
Having a center lets you manage your envy, accept that others have more than you do, if they do, and you don’t get rattled by it. You can say to yourself, ‘I have my power, they have theirs.’
If you perceive that you could be doing better at what you enjoy, then you double up on your efforts.
That’s where ambition kicks in, a topic for another day.
We can tolerate periods when we are not doing what we would most like to do, but the search for what is most desirable for us to do shouldn’t stop.
A sense of reality is essential to temper expectations.
If you want to be a famous anything and you’re not even working in that field, then that’s daydreaming.
If you want to be in music and you don’t have a good ear, then that’s a tough hurdle to overcome. I suppose you could write songs.
If you want to be an engineer or physicist, you have to be good at math.
If you want to be a carpenter, you have to have good manual dexterity.
So how do we discover what we enjoy?
Sounds like a silly question but it’s important to ask.
It takes freedom to follow your intuitions. Freedom and courage.
Here’s where the task of parenting comes in. Providing such freedom. The courage part is up to you.
Some years ago I had a dentist who had excellent manual dexterity. I noticed it right away and commented on it. There was a grace and fluidity to his movements. He’d always known it but hadn’t owned it. At university, he had been chosen to do demonstration videos, such was his skill.
He went on to do other things in life for many years, until it became clear that what he most wanted to do was work with his hands exclusively. So one day he chose to quit dentistry and become a carpenter. It had been a hobby of his but now he wanted to do it full time.
‘That’s what I want to do,’ he said to me with proud assurance. He was probably in his late 50s or early 60s by then, but he still had time. All those years he had been searching for his center and finally had found it.
I asked him if his father, who had been a dentist also, had ever commented on his excellent manual dexterity. He answered that the man had not. Which points up one of the essential tasks of parenting, identifying in their children what seems their most obvious talent.
It doesn’t take a whole lot. All the parent has to do is pay attention to their child as he or she unfolds.
The child may not know they have a talent. It takes an observant parent or interested adult to point it out. In doing so they validate it.
Not long ago, another person I know commented on one of her children’s career choice. She added that she thought he’d do well because he was strong in math. In this instance, that critical interaction had taken place. The parent had conveyed to the child, ‘You have that. I see it. It’s up to you to do what you wish with it, but it’s there for you.’
Of course, there are instances when the talent of the child is so clear that it’s apparent to all.
But those are the exceptions.
Having a sense that one has a center is critical in daily interactions.
There are lots of people in this world without a sense of purpose, drifting here and there, doing what they can to make ends meet, but not animated by a focus in life.
Those are grounds for apathy, resentment and envy.
Without a focus in life managing envy becomes harder to do and managing envy in life is a fundamental task.
With a sense that one has a center, one is more tolerant of imperfections, our own and that of others. It leads to patience and kindness.
When two people are attracted to each other, one may have a center and the other not.
But centeredness cannot just be transferred, it is acquired by each individual.
What a centered lover in a relationship with a not centered partner can do, is say, ‘this is what I perceive your gifts to be.’ And it’s up to the person to accept the feedback, work with it or not.
But it is important to do so, for, in a couple, the non centered party will tend to suffer the most when a breakup occurs.
And now to politics.
Are there politicians more centered than others? Of course.
Compare Trump and Biden.
Since I don’t know them personally I can only judge them by their actions.
Trump is not a centered person whereas Biden is.
Why is Trump not a centered person? Because he cannot manage his envy.
From this distant point, I ask, is Putin a centered man?
He can’t be. A man so committed to depriving others of their freedom cannot be a centered man.
His actions are motivated by envy.
That is a central driving force in his invasion of Ukraine.
Putin has not been able to lead Russia’s transformation into a first rate nation even though the country clearly has such capability.
A free Ukraine would stand as a model for Russians to emulate, like West Germany was to East Germany after WWII, and the yearnings for freedom that would flourish from such contrast, would lead to the further fragmentation of what we today call Russia.
Putin could not handle that.
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