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Soulful Sundays: The High Road

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt

"If you want to hide the treasure, put it in plain sight." -Larry Dossey

I had a dream last night in which I was confronted by a group of angry people (supposedly associates or friends of mine). They were berating me for not being present at a meeting that was of significance to the group. While I was dreaming I was inwardly thinking how little I cared about being included in the group, but my dream self was adamant about defending my position. The tension escalated into shouting and then physical entanglement. I inflicted some major damage on them, and they retreated to go tell the police. I felt instant regret about being provoked into violence despite how little I cared about what the group represented. If I had acted smarter, I would have just walked away. I would have taken the high road.

Dreams provide a fascinating portal into our subconscious landscape. In the above scenario you can clearly see the conflict between the thinking self which knows when struggles are pointless and potentially hazardous, and the emotional self which is committed to feeling validated at any cost. Oftentimes our emotions win, and we become re-actors instead of actors. We are led astray by others' desires instead of following our own inner compass. A healthy dose of perspective is the antidote for such occasions, but there are only two ways to get the medicine - inspiration and suffering. As humans, we must have them both.

Mathematician Alfred Whitehead once said, "The purpose of thinking is to let the ideas die instead of us dying." In theory, this is a fabulous concept, but it is incomplete. It assumes that we can know (and think through) all of the variables, which is impossible. Uncertainty is a certainty when it comes to decision-making in the real world. We don't know what we don't know. With any luck we have had well-meaning parents and teachers to help inspire us and teach us how to properly think, we have taken calculated risks to experiment with our own knowledge, and we have learned about ourselves and the world along the way. But even in the best possible scenario, our thinking will be flawed. No one gets out of life without some scars. We have a choice to either own our faults or ignore them.

Living an authentic and meaningful life requires a deep commitment to patience and intention. Easy enough to say to a being with limited resources and limited time! Imagine that we all walking around with incomplete maps of the world around us, all frantically searching for treasure, and each one of us is convinced that our map is more accurate than our neighbors'. There is bound to be some pushing and shouting -some blood and hurt feelings. This is humanity in a nutshell. The only way to get closer to knowing the big picture is by combining all of the individual maps together. This involves putting aside our ego and looking upward and inward.

The high road is the one that is free from deceit. It is not a place so much as it is a sense of trust - trust in the power of virtue and self-mastery. It can only be reached when our level of self-knowledge outstrips our need to be known and our need to be right. The person on the high road can see much further than the one looking down at the dirt. They are willing to make sacrifices now for rewards much later. In fact, daily sacrifice becomes their reward. They realize that our days on earth are finite, yet there should be no rush in getting to the end. There is no end. They are calm and deliberate in their actions and words. They are loving. They want the best for others, even if that means letting them fail.

We all have the power to reach a transcendent state of existence, yet few of us can remain there. If we are lucky, we get little flashes of insight, like lighting bolts in the middle of a storm. We see things so clearly that it either makes us laugh or cry - sometimes both. Often times the answers are one step behind the questions. The good news is that the answers remain the same. Listen to your heart. Do what you know deep down to be right, even if it is hard. Be prepared to fail and lose friends along the way. Never give up. Keep your faith in the good. Stay present in the moment. These are all platitudes not because they lack utility, but because they are hiding in plain sight. The same can be said of the high road. It is always there, ready to be taken.

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