Being Lured out of Your Current
The last chapter presented the basic guiding idea that you are in a canoe in a river going downstream. The current will be with you as long as you make your connections and do not land on the bank of the river. The trouble is that for most people there are lots of alluring things on the bank of the river pulling them onto dry land where they no longer have the current sweeping them along making life easier for them.
The goal is to avoid these lures, enticements or temptations by recognizing them as lures pulling you out of your river. Unfortunately, there are few easy rules as to what is a lure.
If all you had to do to recognize a lure was to follow a simple rule like “whatever mommy doesn’t like is a temptation luring you out of your river,” it would be easy to recognize any and all enticements. Of course, few people think they are following this exact rule, but lots of people have just slightly more sophisticated versions of that rule.
Most Muslims and Christians think their holy book and its interpreters give them lists of ways to easily tell the temptations or enticements on the side of the river. So if a sincere Christian or Muslim is not married, but meets an willing appropriate sexual partner for a one night encounter of fun sex, this is a temptation as there is a rule against pre-marital sex in both the Bible and Koran. If a Christian is married and then manages to fall in love with another woman while still wanting to be married to the first woman, the sincere Christian sees that as a temptation. The Muslim might not; depending on what country he lives in and other factors, he might see it as a connection to have a second wife. If you are a conservative Christian and have homosexual urges, this is a temptation luring you down the devil’s path.
Many people adopt their society’s values in the same wholesale way: they label anything outside the conventional social rules or expectations as an enticement. The counterculture has their version of these simple rules too: don’t consume too much, live simply, don’t watch TV, eat locally, and don’t hurt the environment. For them, the shiny SUV is a temptation to commit an environmental sin.
People who follow these simple rules are implicitly saying they understand the nature of everyone’s river and thus deviation from their view of the acceptable current is not condoned. Unfortunately, reality and life is too open and incomprehensible for our little minds to make hard and fast rules for everyone. These rules cannot contain the twists and turns and openness of everyone’s flow.
So there are no simple rules on what is an enticement or temptation for everyone. Your river is your river, defined by your flowing current and the pattern of your life. An enticement is what pulls you out of your particular river. So saying something is an enticement applies to a particular person at a particular time and place.
Think back on the example in chapter two of the mother whose daughter-in-law looked like a vampire. The mother had troubles with a connection because she could not look past her daughter-in-law’s outer appearance. Many people say it is shallow to focus on surface level things and our shallow society encourages it and we need to get past that kind of shallowness. By using this as an example, it might seem to the reader I think as a rule we should not be concerned for someone’s outer appearance. But I just meant it for that particular mother-in-law in her particular situation. For other people, things can be significantly different.
For example, Michelle, who helped me write this book, had spent many years being a camp counselor for the Girl Scouts. She took girls on long trips canoeing for weeks in the woods. Surviving in the woods involved basic things such as getting water and avoiding bears. Being concerned about your looks was seen as being concerned for shallow and superficial things. Michelle had thoroughly imbibed the Girl Scout ethic, plus she also had imbibed many leftist ideas about the negative shallowness of the female beauty ethic. Thus she saw any concern for being conventionally beautiful as an enticement.
After many years of being a Girl Scout trip leader, Michelle felt that was no longer her thing to do. But she had no idea of what to do next, so she stayed for another year. The last trip was a horrible experience for her and so she quit. She had no idea of what was the next thing for her, she just knew it was not being a trip leader.
She had trouble transisting for a couple years until it became gradually apparent that she wanted to wear pushup bras and ultra-feminine dresses that showed off her figure. She loved dressing up in 1950s pinup dresses and having men and women leer at her. What she had not noticed before, because of her leftist ideology, was that this desire to look super feminine was not a result of shallow social conditioning; some people, like her, just loved the outfits.
Michelle did not know it when she left the Girl Scout world, but her flow was leading her to a job wearing these types of outfits: being a dominatrix. Michelle had tried to follow a rule that any concern for your outer appearance was a socially-conditioned enticement that pulled you out of your river. But by trying to follow that rule, she kept missing an important next connection.
It was not that the scouts and leftists are so wrong: Our society obviously is very bodily centered and pushes people to feel a certain way about their bodies. The campers and leftists sense that something is out of kilter with such centeredness on beauty and outward physical appearance. The problem is that their rules cannot encapsulate what is the right thing for everyone all the time.
As long as what is actually an enticement for you matches up with whatever your group says it is, then things are fine for you. You realize the limitations of your group’s perspective, though, if you are a gay person in conservative Muslim circles or a NASCAR lover in vegan circles. Groups, by their very nature of often having an implicit idea of what is proper behavior for everyone, often label temptations and enticements with too broad of a brush.
The important thing is not following some group’s idea of what everyone’s flow is, but making your connection now. We can try to force good and bad into simple rules, but for many people life is more complicated than that.
Connections are about meeting what is right for you at that time. So they are not about following simple rules as much as being sensitive; the important thing is to build sensitivity to what are your connections and what is not. It is a lot easier to think there are simple rules about what is an enticement than it is to become sensitive to your particular flow.
Following simple rules is a mechanical process of “do this and don’t do that.” Plus, a person can be relatively sure that she is applying them right, and the rules often seem fair. Most importantly, the rules have the backing of tradition and conventionality and have our society’s seal of approval to them. So one will not be ostracized for following socially approved rules. Unfortunately, one can easily lose your flow by following them.
Becoming sensitive to exactly what is your connection at a given time is a lot less mechanical. It is harder to understand the process and so much easier to get frustrated and want to give up. Moreover, your internalized voices of what is proper may condemn you for your unconventional actions as may your family and friends. But being sensitive is the only way to make sure that you make your connections and so it is a lot more fun, interesting, rewarding, and beneficial to your self, others and society.
While there are no simple rules on what constitutes an enticement as they are particular to your river and your life, there are some common signs that something is an enticement.
The first, and most important, sign that something is an enticement and not a connection are the results of your actions. If you are doing something that is in the current of your life, your current will most often support that activity and help it along. Somehow the universe will then be behind that activity. There might even be amazing synchronicities where it seems what you need and what the universe is providing are given to you through tremendous coincidences so that things flow naturally and easily.
Following an enticement is outside the current of your life. It will pull you outside the flow of your river, and so you will not be helped along by the current of your life. Instead it will generally leave you stranded outside the current of your life, wondering where your flow has gone.
For example, imagine an Amish girl who really fits into the Amish lifestyle. She loves the simple things involved with farming such as the threshing and milking the cows early in the morning. She has a great family and relatives and feels safely at home in the community. She does not miss the technology of the modern world as she likes the more leisurely pace of her life. Then she goes on Rumspringa, when younger Amish people are out in the larger world for a time. There she meets a hot looking guy in a leather jacket on a motorcycle. Ordinarily she would be shy with boys, but she is turned on by the fact that he is different than Amish guys. He asks her to go on a motorcycle ride and, to her surprise, she accepts. When the ride stops, he turns around and kisses her and she allows it. Unknown to her, he has cold sores and she gets them from him. She takes some medicine and the sores are not a big problem. A few weeks later, she realizes there are lots of excitements in the outside world, but she misses the comfortableness of her family and friends and the peacefulness of the farming lifestyle and her early morning cow-milking. She goes back to the Amish community, totally content to be away from the modern world.
The first time an enticement appears, oftentimes the consequences are mild. In retrospect it may seem to be just a learning experience or a healthy wild fling.
But if the same Amish girl has deeper psychological issues pulling her out of her current, she might find that one kiss might not be enough for her. She might find that bad boys on motorcycles make her sexually desirous. The Amish men she had known might seem so tame compared to the wild guys being free on their motorcycles on the open road. After being given a ride by one of them, maybe she gets so worked up, she has sex with him. She might even be so naïve, she thinks the boy cares for her. It will be painful to discover that once he has conquered the repressed chick, he has no interest in her and just leaves. Worse she gets painful herpies and genital warts from the experience.
The experience is more negative this time, but if she understands that bad boy excitement is not good for her and gets back to the river of her life, she can get back in the larger flow of her life. She will have painful itching for the rest of her life but she can go back to the Amish lifestyle rather easily.
Unfortunately, lots of people just do not realize when they have left their larger river. They get pulled to the side of the river by the lure of the excitement of bad boys or other things. So this poor Amish woman, if she can not learn from her experiences, may get in worse trouble. She may feel sorry for herself, drink a lot and then meet another bad boy on a motorcycle and have unprotected sex with him and get pregnant. You can probably see how the pattern could continue to get worse and worse if she does not get back to the current of her life in the Amish community. So she could have repeated wild sexual flings with repeated pregnancies or even beatings from the bad boys when she tries to get their help with their children.
I am telling this long story because it exemplifies an important point about enticements: very often the first time one does them the consequences are not that severe. But as one continues to do them more and more, the consequences get more and more severe. Some people think of it as the universe is trying to teach you a lesson. The universe starts with a gentle lesson, but as you do not learn, it gets more and more severe. I generally think of it as when you step outside the current of your river, at first you are only on the banks of the river and are still pretty close to your currents. But once you get out of that canoe and go further inland, your protective current is far away from you and bad things can happen to you. The further inland you go, the worse these bad things can be as you no longer have the protective current of your life sweeping you downstream. You now are relying much more on yourself and your own powers and that is so much more puny than the larger river.
The good news is that people can generally always get back to the deeper current of their life. At any time, the Amish woman can stop being allured out of her Amish life by the bad boy thing enticement. She can leave the world and get back in her particular river. The consequences will be more severe the longer she has stayed out of her river and the farther inland she has gone from the current of her life, but still she can generally get back to her current. While this woman’s current is more easily discerned than other people’s as the Amish lifestyle is so clearly delineated from the outside world, and so she might have an easier time telling how to get back to her current than other people, still people can generally be aware of what their current is and get back to it if they give up the thing pulling them away from it. One reason this is true is that as you stop doing destructive behavior, those around you who could help you but have been turned off by your behavior, such as your parents, sisters, or friends, when they see they you have changed, they are much more likely to help you now.
A second sign something is an enticement is if in the past similar things have been an enticement for you. For example, if you are married and ten years ago you had a one night stand that caused big problems in your marriage, and the same thing happened four years ago, the woman eyeing you at the convention now is probably an enticement.
The third sign is related to the second one: something is more likely to be an enticement if it pulls you away from your other connections. An enticement is outside of your natural flow or current of your life. Thus it will cause you to diverge from your other connections instead of helping you do better with them. This diverging can be hurting them, but it can also be a much less severe case of pulling you away from your other connections.
Whereas something that is part of your current will help you with your other connections. So when I started writing this book, it meant that I had to read many classic novels to look in literature for examples of people dealing with connections. At first I was very reluctant to spend the time doing it as I had many other intellectual projects I had wanted to do for a while. So I saw it as pulling me away from the current of my life. But when I started reading the novels while I was on my exercise machines, I immediately realized how much easier it made exercising as it occupied my mind during that time. I exercise a lot. Now the time flew by so much easier than before. So this project was fitting in with and amplifying another important part of my life current and thus made my life easier and more enjoyable.
After this book is written, I am hoping to get it published. It would be helpful if you tell me any questions you may have or any parts that you have found helpful. If you have sections that you do not understand or you think are stupid or misguided, I would very much appreciate if you tell me. It is much better to hear these comments now, when I can easily change things, then later, after I have published a book. I will reflectively consider your concerns and, if warranted, I will change things to incorporate your concerns into the book. You can email me at email@example.com. Please put “About Connections,” into the subject heading of the email.
This book was written by Joseph Waligore with the help of Michelle Stage. Joseph teaches philosophy and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. More information about him can be found at his MySpace profile or his Facebook profile. Michelle works in a bank in St. Paul, Minnesota as a learning consultant and in a Minneapolis night club as a dominatrix.
This website is one of four websites I have. Another one, www.followingtheflow.com is for spiritually oriented people and discusses very similar ideas from a more spiritually oriented perspective. Another one, www.josephwaligore.com is for academically or intellectually oriented people. It has my writings about spiritual philosophies such as Stoicism, Socrates, the Deists, the Enlightenment period, and the rise of modern science. Another one, www.spiritualcritiques.com, has critiques of many popular spiritual teachers and spiritual teachings. It looks at teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Ken Wilber, and Pema Chodron. It also looks at teachings like “All is One,” “The Hundredth Monkey,” and “If it Rings True, it is True.”
There is a Facebook group called Flowing. People interested in meeting other people who are interested in these ideas and/or participating in discussions about these ideas are invited to join the group.
Many people reach this site through keyword advertisements. It might be of interest that Joseph got the money for these ads through his day trading profits.