Being Ignored

24 July 2008

I said to The Little Guy’s caregiver that what I usually want is to be ignored, to be left alone.  I said this because she is one of his favorite people, and while I am one of them too, he does not express that in straightforward ways very often when I’m around.

The challenge, I explained, is that sometimes I need to get things done —to get the Little Guy to cooperate—, and that’s frustrating, because I can’t be ignored and get something.  This form of Christian discipleship is a renunciation of all power over others.  Whether that other is a child, a student, or anyone else, the love that such a spirituality of disappearing has as its goal can result in great frustration.  Power is efficacious, at least in the short term, and monastic spirituality is not in the short term.

And that’s the very challenge of the spirituality that people like Thomas Merton espouse.  If I am going to follow that monastic way, that way of disappearing, when I am actually treated that way, I can’t get upset or frustrated.  After all, if someone asks or works for something, and then is upset at what is received, then we call that person ungrateful or crazy.

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One Response to “Being Ignored”

  1. Chris H. Says:

    I think the main problem is that I want to be left alone on my terms and not on other people’s terms. When I’m writing or practicing zazen or meditiating while doing dishes I want to be solitary. However, as a hyper social individual I also want attention when I want it. Now I know you are much more evenly tempered than I, but all humans have the desire to be paid attention to, the “look at me!” gene that probably is heightened in people involved in the arts of any kind. Although it is from the Vietnamese Zen tradition you might want to read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on living alone. The book expounds on a sutra based on solitary living but it brings the idea of living like this in the modern world. Basically the gist of it is that you can be alone while being surrounded by and being a part of the bustle of life. So, the way I see it, you might be able to have it both ways, Jorge. You might not need to desire to be ignored which may somehow be influencing others subconsciously to ignore you. Does this make sense? I’m on my first cup of coffee here at work. And I can’t find it on the web right now so I don’t have the exact title. I’ll try to bring it Saturday if I can remember.

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