I started a Practical Philosophy course last week, and while it’s too early to tell if I’ll enjoy it, the first class definitely pushed some of my buttons!
After quick introductions, our tutor asked each of us how we had experienced our day – and I was first cab off the rank in this exercise.
And because I’m really trying to be more present in my daily life, rather than working like a demon and not taking time to appreciate the process, I didn’t talk about my actual work – just the moments in which I had been aware of this state of presence and the difference it made to my day.
A couple of minutes later our tutor asked another student about his day and he said “Well, no offence Justine, but I actually have a job. I’m CEO of a large company and I’m flat out running the business so it’s impossible to be present during the day, I’ve just got too much on my plate.”
Can you feel my irritation?? This fellow doesn’t know a thing about me so his assumption that I don’t have a job; that I don’t know what hard work means and that his role in the world is consequently so much more important than mine really annoyed me.
I felt myself get quite bristly and, in all honesty, it took me a few days of constantly reminding myself that every person, no matter how annoying, hurtful and frightening, is there for our growth. That if we put our ego away and allow it, every challenging experience will bring us to a state of greater awareness.
The class was a potent reminder of how quickly we lose energy to the comments, opinions and attitudes of those around us; of how quickly we can lose our centre if the world doesn’t agree with, or like, us.
It also brought home the importance of actually practicing philosophy, rather than just thinking about it.
It’s easy to talk about the ideals of our greatest thinkers, but putting these ideals into practice is no mean feat. Self-mastery takes commitment and discipline but gee it makes life feel worthwhile.
Love to you all, Jx