Escape from Ourselves into Mental Beggary
Mental Begging---Not My Cup of Tea
At a risk of some initial unfavorable impressions that the following statement may produce---I don't mind saying that many of those deepest and happiest moments in my life happened while I was alone.
From that teenage drifting in wooded mountains, to reading a wise book with tears of a sudden epiphany, to that sunny morning when I got released from the army overwhelmed by joy of regained freedom, to that walk on a sunny Hawaiian beach with soul resonating with the beauty of sunset...and so many other moments which created the spiritual substance of what I turned out to be.
Not forgetting to mention that night when alone in my living room I decided to spend some very uncomfortable hours by gazing at the wall to allow anything suppressed to well up into my conscious field---out of an inner quest to get to know my human totality, "warts and all".
Those were the times that were refining my "need" for people. It suddenly dawned on me that I could love them so much more in that state of spiritual self-sufficiency, while inspired to give and not to expect anything in return. It came to me at moments of understanding how we could only give of something that we already have, not of something that we only hoped to get from others first.
Thus, there was nothing they could really do to make me a happier person, after I found my peace inside, independent of circumstances, with all love, support, encouragement, appreciation, and self-compassion that I needed to walk with a chin up in this world.
And those were the moments when I quietly and solemnly decided never to play a mental beggar, seeking others' approvals, others' permission to think, feel, and be, while struggling to present myself worthy of their love.
I was to become sovereign in my mind, not swayable by this or that authority into blindly adopting their way of reasoning.
When praises came, they always felt good, but they couldn't make me happier or more complete, just like their absence couldn't make me unhappy and incomplete.
Mental beggary, as harsh a word as it sounds, stayed with me as a criterion in my models of interacting with others.
A Happiness Not Contagious
My only regret has been that oftentimes I seemingly couldn't find enough of those right, effective words, enough friendly smiles and hugs, enough gestures of closeness to make my happiness and peace contagious.
At times I was even mildly shocked upon a realization that my ease and my persistent happy disposition didn't inspire---but produced envy, some sarcastic remarks, malicious gossips about my "show-off nature". With those kind of folks, the more I would appear as an unassuming, low profile, ego-less dude with no intentions to compete by using my happiness as an advantage over them---the more I got disliked by them.
Seemingly, the only way for me to "win their hearts"---and my anti-beggary convictions are not really about "winning anyone's hearts"---was to downsize myself into a miserable, pitiable human specimen, because only then they would have felt "better-than..." in their ever competitive and insecure minds.
All in that same spirit and with the same negative response I sometimes write articles about futile political favoritism and involvement which ultimately never make any difference in the actual political arena. Then, except for a rare agreement expressed in a comment or two, most of those "regular" commenters are keeping quiet.
But, had I written a toxic article targeting a political figure, like a present or a past president, maybe a dozen or so commenters would have joined with their own toxic views about those people.
Now, isn't that funny, folks?---which somewhat inspires me to turn an old saying around, which in my version would sound like: "Cry, and the world cries with you; laugh, and you laugh alone".
Writing online has brought me a lot of evidence about the online readers being majorly materialistically oriented, as they obviously value those advices about "things" in their life more than advices about their life itself and their place in it.
In other words, so many of them have made a shrine out of their cars, their kitchens, their pets, their gardens...all those "things" where they could lose themselves to find themselves in something trivial.
Flattered, but Not Begging for It
Ever since I started playing an online writer---I never had an ambition to call myself a "professional"---I had this ample opportunity to examine my expectations from this activity. Being a pragmatic type before anything else, for a short while I was allowing a possibility of it bringing a little addition to my income. After all, if something is not downright rejected as bad, it should generate some reward, right?
Wrong. I laughed away that notion after seeing cent by cent dropping into that extended writer's hat---and with my aversion for mental beggary I promptly put this activity in a proper perspective of something to be strictly a fun.
Likewise, I had to examine my likes for those oftentimes flattering comments at the bottom of my articles. Playful in my mind, and always willing to therapeutically laugh a little at myself, I imagined a moderator somewhere there being busy deleting all those many comments telling how my writing was full of crap. Of course, not caring about my feelings as much as to keep the website at a certain high level.
At such thoughts I got reminded about my birthdays when everybody is going quite creative about making me feel better than I deserve it on any other date of the year---along with those signed impersonal cards making me somehow look bigger than life.
Now, don't take me wrong, I truly appreciate the praise, and no matter how much I meditate and believe in spiritual benefits of removing ego from my mental makeup, the leftovers of that ego are triumphing at every praise and compliment, realistic or not.
If there would be such an "amendment" in my intimate manifesto against mental begging---it would sound like that old, familiar crap: We are only imperfect humans."
Those Who Don't Expect---Don't Get Disappointed
Talking about comments, good or bad, I don't write so many considering the number of my followers. I read their articles, but don't leave a comment, out of a sheer dislike for the idea of my comments "begging for a returned favor", and you know what I mean.
The very concept of "following" someone online sounds crappy to me, because, in all honesty, who can read, let alone comment on all those hundreds of followers' works. The illusion of it is serving us as an act of begging, while we are hoping that those hundreds of followers will be reading our stuff---on top of reading hundreds of their own followers' literary masterpieces. Aren't we naïve sometimes, and it's very much a rhetorical question.
All of it comes from my general aversion towards mental begging, as I don't practice "investing" into any relationship, private or otherwise. I don't think, consciously or not, how this or that person might be useful in the future, and so to display my care, my appreciation, or even closeness, with that on my mind.
I don't "expect" anything either from a person or from the world---and so I can't get disappointed. Besides, whatever is given to me can always be taken back---especially if there are invisible strings attached which require me to keep "being a good boy" if I want to keep it.
People are too often lowering themselves to that level of mental beggars while placing a duty on others to cater to their tastes, plans, and preferences. You don't have to see it in such varieties as I do, but to me every election speech is a form of mental begging; and so is every TV commercial, and also every charming idiocy of a drooling guy at the first date trying hard to impress---instead of just being himself.
I never formally proposed to my wife. As I remember it, and many a time we are having a good laugh over it, I simply said: "What do you say about our getting married around Christmas?"
That was after 4 years of our teenage love and inseparable friendship which didn't tolerate anything like formalities. Fast-forward 53 years, and I am still buying her flowers at odd days, not on Valentine, not on our anniversary. I love her on all other days, not only those prescribed by others' tradition.
It truly feels right when others love us in any sense of the word, but it's to be a two way street, never a one person's struggle to receive the same in return---which I have been calling mental beggary throughout this article.