We are the stories that we tell ourselves?
What if we changed our story?
I was going to speak collectively, but I’ve decided that I can only speak for myself (and even that, at times, is dubious at best). So…
There is a part of me which longs for meaning–it grasps at making sense of, and desires to transcend, my mortality; to get a glimpse of the part of myself which is larger than I am; to see that Divine and everlasting part that is filled with grace and self-knowledge, the part that both knows and understands Its Great Purpose, despite the clamouring din that my little self creates. I know It exists, this part, because I have felt It at times, and I’ve felt Its connection to something larger than Itself, yet have simultaneously felt the part of myself that anchors me to this world.
This other part, this little self–part genetic predisposition, animal instinct and product of my life experience–has been whittled down over time into what it has become. Rife with social conditioning, carrying at times shrewd and at times skewed perceptions of itself and others; influenced by norms and moral codes and ingrained values (governed, of course, by its own perceptions of same); filled with all manner of delusions and superstitions. The part of myself that helps me function in this world in tangible and visceral ways.
I’ve been reading Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Call, a book in which she speaks to these parts ourselves; she speaks to them through her own parts, which she shares in unabashed detail that makes me smile at her human-ness and revel in her bravery. The parts that want to know and be and do, and the parts that are happy to just see and delight in being, because knowing is inherent–we need only to be still for long enough to hear our own wisdom.
There are all kinds of ways in which to find that stillness. I’ve been reveling in movement. Movement of my limbs as I step, one foot in front of the other, treading a path that is by now getting well worn in its trajectory. My daily walk home from the train station has been glorious. Lately it has been a little cool, my walk sun dappled during what has been referred to as “the golden hour”–when everything looks sun-kissed and pulsing with a glow. It has been a long while since I’ve stepped on a trail littered with copious piles of dry leaves.
Someone recently asked me how I was doing. I’m thinking that I’ve been doing too much thinking. And you know what? I don’t fucking have any answers, despite spending half my life in search of them… and you know what else? I don’t think I care any more… about the answers. Because, really, even when you figure out (even some of) the answers, it doesn’t make the journey any different, other than maybe missing it altogether because of obsessing over all this shit that in the end won’t matter, you know? It’s that life happens when you’re busy making plans thing. Something like that, anyway.
A beautiful young girl in Delta was killed over the weekend–beaten to death with a bat. An announcement was sent out at the office the other day from the congregation she belonged to, telling us when the funeral would be. No amount of mind crunching can help me reconcile how someone at the very pinnacle of potential should have their life snapped away from them in such a brutal way, at the hands of another human being. And life, in general, seems equally senseless and without any order. I know there is beauty in it–I’ve seen it!–despite the chaos and the senseless, pointless things that happen every day all over as part of this existence.
This morning I was listening to a video series by a woman shaman in which she reinforces –for the umpteenthbillionth time, to a rapt audience– that in order to make a change in the world, we are to turn our noses up at the negative stuff and not feed into “its” power by giving it our energy. Somewhere along the way we have been led to believe that by sticking our heads in the ground like ostriches, we will be able to alter our existence and even the very nature of humanity.
I find that way of thinking offensive on so many levels. In one breath it expounds on the virtues of taking responsibility (by being the change we wish to see in the world) while in the other it says that in order to perpetuate love, light and higher vibration we are to turn off the news telling us of the horrors occurring in our world. I’ll be the first to admit that I tend not to follow the news all that much, because I find it difficult to bear, but somehow things seep through anyway, and I am at once appalled and also surprised at how little progress we’ve made in our shift from animalhood, or so it seems. Like that old Don Henley song, only bad news is news worthy, yet there is much good that happens in this world, perhaps even moreso, which doesn’t get pumped out into mass media (see The Good News Network). And to make an informed decision about what sort of change needs to occur, we must know what is and isn’t working, and to educate ourselves on how to effect the best change possible. To be proactive instead of reactive.
I think, maybe, there is a middle way out of this mess. Complacency won’t change the world, and yes, focusing on negativity is not the way to do it, but certainly they would be good cues which could point us toward a better way of being (or perhaps not being). And despite our wish to not have shadow aspects, we all, each and every one of us, have them, and the sooner we acknowledge their presence and learn to work with them in a positive way, the better off we will all be collectively.
In the meantime, I’m relearning to take the time to savor my chunk of organic milk chocolate with almonds as it melts in my mouth… to hug and kiss my boy and tell him I love him every chance I get… to crunch leaves underfoot and smell the earthy scent of autumn… to delight in the feel of the drizzle of rain on my face and sunshine on my back… relish the feel of freshly laundered sheets and the comfort of a hot towel against my skin.
And I think of the wonderful things I’ve felt, even recently, and have been able to share… the feel of my lips in the crease of my lover’s spine as I kissed him while he slept… the smell and texture of his hair, as I wound my fingers in its wooly depths, my face nestled against his neck. Those things are enduring, despite all the other stuff going down around me, and I cherish and value those above everything else, perhaps especially because of their impermanence.
Death changes so many things. Until you experience the loss of a loved one (parent, child) you can’t imagine what it feels like. I remember trying to imagine how I would feel when my parents died (years before they did) and thinking about how I’d feel and react. There are no words to describe what it feels like, the permanent and irrevocable removal of someone from your life. It’s not like you can call them up again on the phone after a hiatus and say “hey.” There’s a finality that is difficult to reconcile. Some will recite glib quotes from whatever scripture they ascribe to about seeing them again, that they aren’t ever really gone, they’ve just been transformed (to something/someplace better, of course). But the truth of the matter is, in the here and now of this existence, I can’t pick up the phone and ask my mother to refresh my memory on the intricacies of her bean soup recipe, nor can I go snuggle up to my dad while he’s dozing off in front of the television set, watching the news at six.
There is a gap, and no amount of wishing it to not be there will make it other than what it is–the absence of someone who has been an integral and vital part of your life. So you attempt to process this absence by figuring out ways in which to cope–grieving their loss and finding a way to rejoice in their memory and the lasting impression they have left behind on your soul, for better or worse. And during this reconciliation process, there is so much that is put to question; nothing is the same; everything is scrutinized with new eyes. But then time irons out the wrinkles in the fabric of life, and we start to forget how to live purposefully… how to only look at the things that really matter and we start sweating the small stuff… and forgetting about the substantive stuff.
I’m tired. Tired of sweating the small stuff and really just want to be able to share with those I choose to be close to the poignancy of the substantive stuff… the fleeting stuff that can be missed if you blink… the stuff that you’d miss if you couldn’t do or be anymore. Like that. Well… that’s how I’m doing.