Question to Readers: What Makes You "Duck" Unnecessarily? (Also… A Guest Post Opportunity)

There is a corridor in Amritapuri that can be taken as a shortcut between the auditorium and the north part of the ashram. That slightly sloped corridor has a low ceiling.

A tall person would have to duck their head to get through any of that area, but for many people bending down isn’t necessary. I have tested it out many times and there is no need for me to duck when I walk through the lower part of the walkway… but I do. For me, there is at least an inch of free space over my head, but I’ve noticed that many people duck even if there is more than a foot of space between their head and the ceiling.

Since I’ve become clear that there is no need for me to duck my head, I have tried to walk through the area standing straight. So far I seem incapable of doing that. In the past two weeks, the closest I have come to my goal is to walk through with my hand on the top of my head or to scrunch my neck as much as I can, as if my neck was a spring. I am hoping to be able to walk through the area without any kind of ducking by the time I leave India.

After I observed my own and others behavior, it occurred to me that the situation could be seen as a metaphor. There must be many times in my life, when I have metaphorically ducked. Then it occurred to me that there might be a wide variety of metaphors or stories that could result from this observation. I decided to find out if readers relate to my experience, as well as to offer a potential guest post opportunity.

I believe one of the times I metaphorically duck is when I worry about what other people think about me. What situations in your life cause you to duck unnecessarily? I would love it if you would share your answer to that question in the comments below.

Or … use your creativity to develop a different metaphor. Or … write a short story, poem, fable, parable, or any other modality, on a topic inspired by my post. Perhaps you will even see something to photograph that you think relates.

Consider coming back to this post later to see the ways other readers responded to my question. And if you decide to accept my challenge to write a story, poem, fable, parable, or any other piece, and want it to be considered for a guest post, sent it to me at livinglearningandlettinggo@gmail.com.

A Glimpse of My Life as a College Freshman (1966-67)

When I was writing Sixty-Eight Years of Hair, I poured through my scrapbooks and photograph albums. This week I went back and looked through the college scrapbook again. I found it primarily focused on the non-academic part of my freshman year of college.

There were two letters I had written my parents and a letter one of my classmate’s mother had written my mother about me in the scrapbook. Looking at the photos and reading the letters was like standing in front of a mirror, one which reflected that year of my life. Continue reading “A Glimpse of My Life as a College Freshman (1966-67)”

Surprising Discoveries

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This past Father’s Day, I received an email from my brother saying that he thought I might be interested in reading a post his son had written about our father. http://carolineevan.com/grandpa-smith-the-photographer-a-fathers-day-post

I left home when I was 17 years old, and had very little contact with my family afterwards. So even before I opened the link, I was surprised to see my father described as a photographer. When I clicked on it, I was further surprised to find out that my nephew, Evan, and his wife, Caroline, are professional photographers.

I took some photographs during my high school and college years, and some when my children were young, but it was definitely not a major focus in my life. In fact, I have spent most of my adult life believing that taking and looking at photographs kept people from being in the present.

When I started this blog, I used no photographs other than an occasional one I found on Wikimedia. But soon a new world opened up to me. Now, photographs I have taken are a major part of the posts I write. So to find out my nephew is a photographer and that he considered my father to be one as well was indeed a surprising discovery.

I have no memory of my father using a camera, but one or two years ago my brother converted a lot of family photos to digital ones. He mentioned my father’s interest in photography at that time and sent me some of the photographs.

It was fascinating to read about my father from Evan’s perspective. I was also interested in seeing photographs of my father that someone else had taken during the Korean War. I had never seen any of these before.

I also appreciated the opportunity to see some of the photographs he had taken during the Korean war.

Thank you Evan for writing your tribute to your grandfather. It certainly opened up new perspectives for me.

Living Codes

Sreejit has written a new poem that I think is an amazing piece of self reflection.

The Seeker's Dungeon

My code says…

My code says it’s ok
to go it alone, when no
one understands, but a real
man has to be able to deal
with those that march to
another’s demands. My
rhythm is slightly incomplete –
a hiccup in my giddy up – I march
to about 4 ½ beats, but it flows
steady in me so I rest
at weird angles.

The rebellion of rock with
an R&B filter, smooth but
with splinters, modest but not
hindered, I’m not a flower
child, but I’m free and
I’m wild, untamed, I move
at my own pace, I don’t
care about the race, but the
way in which it is run.

Careful that you don’t
misunderstand, I have my own
demands. Those of you with whom
I don’t go far back, that didn’t witness
me always on the attack, will
think that I have no bite, but be

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Recovering from Over-Doing

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In this week’s Dungeon Prompt, Sreejit asks us to fill in the blank in this sentence:  “I am a Recovering _________.” There was no doubt in my mind what the behavior would be for me. Using the Alcoholics Anonymous introduction, I will say: “Hi!  I am Karuna, and I am a recovering over-doer.”

As I thought about how I would present this topic, I decided to create a new disorder. My fictitious disorder is called “Being versus Doing Disorder.”

The Being vs Doing disorder is on a continuum where the center, a balance between being and doing, is the healthy portion of the continuum. The more someone moves to either end of the continuum, the more likely it is they will have dysfunction in their lives.

When I think of the over-being end of the continuum I think of non-productivity, passivity, and lack of motivation. I don’t know as much about that part of the spectrum since I have almost no personal experience there. I have seen it at work in clients and friends though.

Over-doing has many facets. It commonly begins in childhood when the only or main way to get positive attention from parents is to do impressive things. It also develops when parents criticize their children anytime they are relaxing or are doing things the parents consider nonproductive.

As a result, adults with an over-doing disorder may be seeking validation and praise for what they accomplish. An over-doer is also likely to be a rescuer. As such, they do things they aren’t asked to do and are likely to do things they don’t want to do. In addition, they do more than their share of the work that needs to be done and do things for other people that they could do for themselves. Those with this “disorder’ are likely to over-commit and seem incapable of being still.

Over-doing has been a major characteristic of my adult life. At one point, I was raising two children, working three jobs, doing my personal therapy and in school studying for a PhD.   During my therapy, I realized I didn’t want a PhD, I was just seeking attention from the father, who had disowned me.  I stopped my schooling but was still overdoing. Before long, I began to experience extreme exhaustion and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

With CFS, I was in survival mode and it was impossible for me to do as much as I had been doing, although I still tried to.  When it began dissipating after five years, I went back to over doing. There is no doubt that a part of me believed it was only acceptable for me to stop if I was sick.  Eventually I developed high blood pressure and other physical problems.

I reached a point where I had to cut back on all of my commitments. Nowadays, I am putting my emphasis on doing the things I want to do, and am saying no to many requests.  I still have trouble with “simply being” but I no longer am into major over-doing.   I hope some day I will be much closer to the center of the being-doing continuum.

I have realized a behavior that really fueled my over-doing disorder was the desire to be “in the know.” That puts me in the place of being asked for information that I don’t want to share, which then creates stress, whether I share it or not. As I continue to slow down, I am finding myself holder of less information. I am loving responding to requests with “I’m not in that loop anymore. You will have to ask someone else.”

I learned many skills during my over-doing years.  Last week friends of mine were in a life and death crisis and I stepped in to help immediately.  There is a time and place for those skills, but it takes discrimination to use them correctly.  In that instance, I have no doubt that my choices were appropriate.

I am very committed to my recovery from over-doing. While I may find myself immersed in the old behaviors from time to time, I don’t think I will ever be drawn so deep into them again. I see what I am doing  much sooner and and change course when needed.

In evaluating myself on the scale found in Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters, I find I am in generally in Chapter 4 or 5.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

 

Every time I walk around an invitation to over-do or avoid putting myself in the situation where I know I am going to be tempted, I consider my choice worthy of celebration!  I am truly movig towards a life of balance.

 

Do you have a “Being vs Doing” disorder? Where do you fall on the continuum? How does it disrupt your life? Do you consider yourself in recovery?