I have no idea what path anyone else in this world is on.
Sometimes it’s obvious. More often, it is not. Yet even when your path is apparent to me — I haven’t any idea what it is.
That’s because I cannot get inside your head. Of course, conversely, you can’t get into mine, either.
So, who cares? That doesn’t really matter — to a point. And that’s because what matters is that you care about your path.
Your path belongs to you and you alone. Whatever that might be, nobody else can choose it nor walk it for you.
Even if you let someone else suggest your path, you still make the choice to take it. Or not.
One of the biggest challenges with any path you choose is other people. Everyone will react in their own way to anything you do. Some approve, some don’t.
Lots of people will opine on your choices. Some of their opinions will be good and useful. Of course, many won’t.
What matters most is that you be true to you. Your path belongs to you and nobody else.
Why does it matter who cares?
Because most of us need validation. Or at least, we desire to make good impressions. Even when you do something specifically for yourself, you want approval.
This tends to be fine when you choose something conventional. Any standard 9–5 job with a future, something with room for advancement. The standard Jewish Mother Approved careers — doctor, lawyer, business mogul. All of these paths are “normal” and easily approved of.
When you choose an unconventional path — there will be more criticism. People will tell you (usually under the guise of “for your own good”) their thoughts.
Did you consider the lack of earning potential with that choice? Have you thought about how you lose everything if you fail? Do you realize how few succeed in that business?
I am all too aware of this myself. Though I know every time I hear this that it’s well-intentioned, it still feels less so.
I have an underlying fear of abandonment. If I succeed or fail, I’m afraid people will not want to be associated with me.
Logically, I know that friends and friendships change. Change is the only constant in the universe, after all. Also, the people I am presently closest to will likely only leave me if I become abusive. Or cruel. Or if I start intentionally hurting others and being a dick.
That’s where it does matter who cares. If you cannot see that in your quest to walk a given path you’re being a dick — those who care about you can help.
It is possible to unintentionally turn into an asshole in pursuit of a goal.
Don’t just ignore the comments and warnings people share. Examine them, reflect on them — and choose to take them in or release them.
Intent should be considered
When you have chosen a given path — or not — intent is important.
The choices you make belong to you and you alone. But in the pursuit of a given path your intent matters. That’s because if you strive to do good and be a good person — you may still cause hurt.
Nobody is perfect. Everyone screws up. What you choose to do — or not do — is about you. However, you have no control over the reactions of others.
You think, feel, and act for you and you alone. There is nobody else in your head. Nobody but you can be mindful of you. This is a good thing when you give it some consideration. Nobody desires to be the puppet of another.
Yet when you allow your subconscious mind to do the driving — you may let someone else drive. The ideas, the emotions you are employing unconsciously might be built off of false impressions. That’s how cults form, FYI.
But I digress. Good intentions are imperfect. This is because you have no control over the impression you make on another or their reactions. If another feels that you are being an ass — and you are not intentionally being an ass — you may be unable to appease them.
Know your intent. But don’t be surprised is someone who cares — and feels slighted — comments unexpectedly. Knowing your intent will show you if you should take their commentary to heart. Or it will show you if you should release it.
The fine line between selfish and self-aware
The pandemic has exposed a great many entitled people. Their privilege, their self-righteousness, and outright selfishness have come under the spotlight.
Wearing a mask is poo-pooed by some as weakness and being a puppet. But most of us see wearing a mask as a necessary inconvenience to protect other people.
Still, it is disheartening to see so many people showing their selfish colors like the plumage of a peacock.
Overall, the difference between selfish and self-aware lies in intent. But there is more to it than that. You need to also consider other people in the choices you make. Everything you do, great or small, impacts the world around you.
Not to the degree of, say, Trump and his blatant science-denial. But when you decide to not socially distance or wear a mask in a store — you show your entitlement. You make it clear your intent is all about you.
A very small number of people live at the upper levels of government and big-business leadership. Yet we frequently put them on pedestals or use them as examples. Unfortunately, present entitlements and privilege are a lot louder than reason and logic — and many of them are bad examples.
You have the power to look at what you are doing and decide if you are acting selfishly. One way to do so is to analyze how it would make you feel were someone else acting as you are acted in the same manner towards you.
Some of the acts of self-care are selfish. But intent matters here. Not talking a call, taking a day off work, or canceling an appointment for your mental health is not the same as refusing to wear a mask in a store.
The line was thin before COVID-19. It’s much more so, now.
Mindfulness, who cares, and why it matters
The practice of mindfulness is a quintessential part of the philosophy of Pathwalking. If you are not mindful, you’re not aware. You’re not conscious of your thoughts, feeling, and actions if you’re not mindful — let alone any intent.
Who cares? In this case, you care. Still, others who care can be a mirror reflecting something you need to see. Unless you are a narcissist or a sociopath, you likely desire to do good. Good for yourself tends to be beneficial to other people, too.
Yes, people will criticize, comment, and potentially frustrate you. It matters because they can be mirrors reflecting what you are doing. If that reflection angers, upsets or scares you — maybe you should reconsider your path.
If that reflection is as you expect it to be, however — you need to choose to ignore what you receive. Or you need to choose to say “thank you” but not act. Maybe just acknowledge and move on. There are many choices, and your relationship to and with the person(s) commenting impacts them.
Who cares what path you are on? You care. And that’s who matters when it comes to who cares. Nobody else can live life for you. Still, others who care can be a mirror reflecting something you need to see. You don’t live in a vacuum.
Recognize your intent. Be mindful of your conscious self. Strive to do good and forgive yourself if you screw it up from time to time. Recognize who cares and how the mirror they hold up to you matters in the moment.
How do you show your caring when commenting on the paths of others?
Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on September 16, 2020.