Thursday, August 24, 2006

Contemplating self-confidence over a sunset


There are days when I feel myself insignificant, in the shadow of others and events beyond my control, and on those days, hardship is daunting. I feel tempted to view my goals as being distant and unattainable, and go looking for consolation. But consolation is a trap. It enables me to feel good about myself without having to do much of anything. It leads to complacency and the comfort of routine, hoping that routine will enable me to ignore or escape anguish rather than understand and accept it. But can I afford the luxury of consolation and complacency in a world in which the only certainty is death, its time of arrival completely uncertain, and the consolation of an afterlife an unprovable hypothesis?

And then there are days when I feel superior to others, and on those days I am very disdainful of hardship, and yet perversely, tormented by humiliation when it defeats me. This leads to conceit. This makes me shun the friendship of those whose wisdom might help me spring the cyclical trap of loneliness and humiliation and anguish which my awareness of self engenders. This, again perversely, consoles the ego, which must be fed, and will get its attention however it can, whether positive or negative. It tells me I don't need others, that I have nothing to learn from them, that I am superior, and it draws energy from my resolve and my purpose, defeating me again and again.

There is a middle way, a balanced path that I try to tread despite the pendulum swings of daily life. The path in which I acknowledge that self-confidence is not a form of arrogance, but instead, a forn of trust in my abilities and my capacity to realize my goals, my purpose. It encompasses both the courage to face whatever life throws at me without losing equanimity, and the humility to treat every situation I encounter as one from which I can learn.

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