I'm reading Eckhard Tolle's "A New Earth". I'm only about 50 pages in or so, and I can see why you need a highlighter and post it notes. It's pretty deep. Not hard to understand but deep. It's basically Buddhist philosophy without the metaphors.
He talks about the ego equating having with Being. The more I have, the more I am. How we view ourselves by what others see. How we view ourselves by what we have and how much we have. He poses the question of how we let go of our attachment to things. He says it impossible because when we no longer seek to find yourself through things, the attachment drops away. This thought is completely in synch with my practice. I'm cool, yay.
Being an "artiste" can be fun and rewarding, but it does have its drawbacks. I can be a really great actress and still get absolutely no reward for it. I am constantly underemployed. Some of us work all the time and make bajillion dollars a years and some of us make squat or diddley squat. There are tons of horrible but good looking actors out there making more money to put more plastic in their bodies. You know who they are. Oddly, we continue to pursue it. It's like a curse really. I've had really great years and really crappy years. Before I started practising, I definitely was doing okay, I was younger, hotter and not bitter. I didn't work a lot, but when I did, I felt like a million bucks. When I didn't book a part, I felt like a failure. I felt worthless, invalidated, etc. I would do extra work because I was in the union so it paid well, but the whole world of being an extra is basically set up to be demeaning and soul sucking especially for someone who is spent most of her education training to be an actor and sacrificed lots of perfectly good jobs to do so. To an actor, it's the equivalent of working a McJob. It pays the bills, but lordy, we'd rather not do it.
What's it like? Basically, you hang out on set for hours and hours with no idea of when you get to go home and watch the person who did get the role get the attention and money you want. They get to to be in the spotlight and you try not to get yelled at for being in the spot you didn't know you weren't supposed to be in. They get someone bringing them water, you hold your pee until they release you from your designated spot in the freezing cold under the rain towers (a big sprinkler). You get to watch a well known, highly paid actor screw up take after take because they don't know their lines while you stand under hot lights sweating in winter gear praying you'll pass out so you get to go home. They get hot snacks brought to them, you are lucky if there is any generic peanut butter and cheese whiz left by the time you get back to your mud-filled, dark, drafty tent.
I was 32, single, living alone in a new city: intelligent, cute, outgoing and fun, blissfully unaware of my inherent worth. I had a lot of fun. I had a lot of energy but did not know where to direct it. I produced a spoken word event, but missed the energy and drive of my hometown of Toronto. I had no inner peace, I was basically drunk every chance I got - and I was lucky to not end up in the clutches of some fucking idiot or worse. I did hang out with gay guys, which protected me from a lot. I was looking for Mr.Right but found Mr. Potential Date Rapist, Mr. What's His Name, Mr. Probably Gay, Mr. Would Rather Date a Blonde Chic, Mr. Hot but Way too Young for Me and let's not forget Mr. Ex-Boyfriend who Still Had No Clue. Inside, I still yearned to feel connected to something that would really make a difference in my life.
To make a long story short, when I learned about Buddhism, I began to understand that a source of my suffering (I had a few) was that I attached my sense of worth to what I did. If I booked a gig, I was a somebody, if I didn't book, I was nothing. If I worked as an extra, I was less than nothing. Hence, in the quiet moments, I could hear a giant flushing sound. When I started chanting, I heard nam myo ho renge kyo instead. I finally felt like I could do something for my state of mind instead of waiting to be rescued by some one or some thing. Happy "coincidences" started happening. I felt lighter, happier and determined to not give up on myself. I continued with extra work for a time, but it was easier. I said no a lot more. I didn't put up with crap. I didn't believe I was worthless or believed the "wouldn't work in this town again" line when I demanded the right to be treated respectfully.
One of the greatest challenges we face in the IF community is that we attach our self worth to being a mother. If we get to be a mother, we're in that club, that spotlight, that ultimate expression of womanhood. If we don't, we're nothing. We're worthless. We're ghosts, there but not there. Extras just waiting to come in from the cold. While we wait, it's like purgatory. Is it my turn yet? Even after disappointments for years, your turn can come, any day, any day now. It is indeed possible. There's plenty of proof to see. Time runs out on some of us, though. Choices are made in the name of good sense or sanity. I have asked myself a million times, who am I now? What the fuck did I do in my previous life to deserve this?! For a while, I felt like nothing, and I could hear that giant flushing sound again. And so I turn to daimoku again to transform and fill that aching silence. I am repairing my heart so that I can open up to love. I can expand my capacities once again to become the person I need to be to encompass this pain and live with strength and compassion for the child that awaits and the people I already have in my life. I want to fill up so I can give.
What do you do to repair your heart?