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Forever Pregnant

The Unselfish Automobile and the Good Christian

Detail from "Views of a Fetus in the Womb," da Vinci

Detail from "Views of a Fetus in the Womb," da Vinci

When I was a child in Presbyterian Sunday school, I was taught that being a good Christian means being unselfish. Somehow I interpreted this to mean that my wants and needs were unimportant… that I had been put on earth exclusively to Serve Others.

This was a troubling concept, but it didn’t cause much of a problem until I was out of my teens. During one’s adolescence, it’s almost impossible not to be self-centered and self-aware. I think it’s a hormonal thing.

By the time I was twenty, I was married with an infant. Self-abnegation is a poor basis for marriage and motherhood. I was a slave to my husband and my baby. I was unhappy – but wasn’t that okay, since God wanted me to Serve Others and to be Unselfish?

At that time I owned a 1960 Mercury Comet. Like me, my Mercury had been created to serve. It was unselfish. But in order to serve, its basic needs had to be met. It needed fuel. It had a hydraulic clutch (or something) that needed to be filled from time to time. It needed regular oil changes. It required maintenance and occasional repairs.

Eventually I learned that I too required maintenance and occasional repairs. Without receiving, I became unable to give.

Over the years, I have found that giving and receiving are inseparable. Think of a lake that has an outlet — a stream flowing out of it — but no source of fresh water. Soon the lake will dry up. It will no longer be able to sustain fish or waterfowl. It will have no beauty to be enjoyed. It will be unable to cool and entertain swimmers on hot summer days.

When I discovered that I, like the Mercury Comet and the lake, had needs that could not be ignored, I learned a great deal about myself and about how the world works. Knowing myself better, I took better care of myself. I made wiser choices. I was happier, and so were the people around me.

I now believe that people — women and men alike — should always treat themselves as if they are pregnant. Caring for oneself beautifully and wisely during pregnancy is, as it happens, the best way to care for one’s developing fetus. And I believe that there is a sense in which we are all, always, “pregnant” with our future selves. We carry inside us the embryo of what we will become.

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2 thoughts on “Forever Pregnant

  1. By the way, yesterday I realized a milepost in “progress in the practice of meditation,” per the quote at left from the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. It involved an incident (concerning a perception of me by someone whose “approval” I have always valued highly — approval I once took for granted and unconsciously relied upon, but which has in recent years been tenuous) that would have greatly upset me not so long ago. The incident was one that cast me in an unfavorable light. I was briefly embarrassed by it, and I waited for sadness or anger to set in. But there was no sadness or anger. I didn’t meditate about the incident, specifically, but I discovered, to my great joy, that I am developing a meditative — which is to say, objective, slightly distancing — way of living… not a hardness, not a don’t-give-a-damn attitude, but one that is daily more compassionate toward other people and toward my self. It felt good. It felt REAL good.

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  2. Yes I agree with you, giving and recieving are inseparable which is CONSERVATION. The whole universe is conserved. Many thanks for wonderful words of wisdom all of us are pregnant to give birth to ourselves in some or other way.

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