My Groundhog Day: Taking a Vacation from Selfishness
Posted by Xeno on August 11, 2011
I woke up today and realized my intentions for my vacation have been largely selfish. I have focused on pleasure seeking, putting myself in some beautiful place, making love on a beach, eating expensive seafood and sitting in a jacuzzi … the rewards such as I see them, for hard work.
I have worked non-stop for 2 years at my job and have earned the money to do these things, but after searching my heart, I have not lived up to my highest standards.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Groundhog Day, but I have not lived the lesson from it I love:
We find our full potential only when our deepest motivations become altruistic.
Just as Bill Murray wakes up on the same day over and over, trying to get it right, I’ve tried this change of heart many times. I typically, and selfishly, and cynically, however, return to the view that love is a trick, that people donate to charity to get the tax break, that people ultimately give for selfish reasons. Does it “count” if I give a hungry person money for food and my real motivation is to impress someone with my generosity?
I finally get this: Yes, it counts to the hungry person, but I do myself a disservice. I cheat myself of the experience that would be most fulfilling, a pure act of kindness.
Finding the invisible thread, the selfish conversation, and changing it is both easy and difficult. This morning, I solved the equation this way: We live and we die and everything is an illusion. It is our personal responsibility to make the best possible illusion.
Thus, I reached the conclusion that I will not spend my vacation money flying to some island paradise and indulging myself. I will help someone who needs it more than myself, someone who has not asked for my help. This is what I intend.
I do not know how to do what I intend, yet, so I will start simple today, with something I know I can do: Find a local homeless shelter and donate the food from my garden I will never eat.
Our intentions are real. Like our breath, they happen on auto-pilot, but we can also control them.