I was going to give this blog a “wiser” sounding title. Something inspirational, growth-oriented, “positive”. Or something deep, maybe something from Lao Tzu.
But you know, I’m not very wise, although I’m striving in that direction. I’m not very growth-oriented, or positive, either, much of the time, although I play that role for some people in society, and I’ve studied these things deeply. But alas, the gap between knowledge and practice is almost always bigger than one would hope….So my own “practice” and my own embodiment of wisdom, have quite a ways to go.
And sure as hell, the last thing the world needs is another person pretending to be a guru, when they’re not.
Instead, this blog is going to be about honesty. If I can’t share honest thoughts, then what’s the point? And if I feed you bullshit, and you resonate to it in your own authentic way, then I will not have catalyzed an authentic connection. I will simply have helped to form one more wedge separating people’s naked authenticities. So let’s not do that. Let’s not go forward reinforcing our facades. If you want to read this, that’s awesome. I hope you get something real out of it.
So, honesty. This blog is going to be about darkness and light. Because I have both of those things in me, yin and yang swirling together, interpenetrating each other.
Sometimes, I feel hopeful and powerful and awesome.
Some of the time, I feel despairing and weak and worthless.
And much of the time, I feel like I live behind a curtain of gauze, keeping me from really making contact with anything — my conversations with people, the food I’m eating, the suffering I hear on the news, the happiness I feel when I sing Happy Birthday for somebody. These things happen, and I’m kinda-sorta there for them. But it’s rare that something touches me deeply enough for me to REALLY feel. Instead, I “kind of” feel, and then, on to the next thing before my emptiness becomes too apparent….
So, this is me — gauze-covered with intensely beautiful moments that manage to pierce through, numb, sometimes filled with shame, sometimes filled with anger, sometimes filled with love and awe and reverence. Sometimes appreciative. Often self-critical.
I live in a prison, one that I didn’t construct, initially, but I maintain it and if it ever threatens to weaken, like if I ever loosen the bars a little bit, then I’m the one who ‘fixes’ them and keeps myself in here. This is the seeming paradox of life — we are initially formed by our environments, and so, if we had a tough childhood or whatever, then our problems are “not our fault.” But, as we become increasingly conscious beings, we start to contribute to our own imprisonment. We ourselves make the decisions, think the thoughts, engage in the behaviours, that reinforce our patterns. So, our existential “thrownness” (shout out to Heidegger…with a fist bump) is indeed not our fault; but it’s sure our responsibility to, in the NOW, make better choices than our default dysfunctions.
You live in a prison too.
I think all of us do, but we might not admit it very often. But when we are depressed, or self-destructive, or we ruin a relationship through our insecurity, or we drop the ball at work because we procrastinate or avoid people, or we look in the mirror and frown at the parts we don’t like, we know it.
When we watch an inspirational movie and think, “Yeahhh! I’m gonna LIIIIIIVVVVEEEEEE!!!!!!”, and then minutes or hours later the buzz has worn off, we know it.
When we settle into another night of TV, spend another 4 hours on Facebook, we know it.
When we yell at our kids, avoid our email backlog, or don’t pick up the phone when “that person” calls, we know it.
When we meet the truly rare person who is fully, shiningly themselves, and we feel our own shrunkenness in comparison, we know it.
When we open to the terrible things going on in the world and we think, “I want to do something about climate change, or Syrian refugees, or homeless people, or mental illness, etc.etc.etc..”, but we know deep down that we’re not really going to do change our lives and jump in with both feet, maybe bandaiding our distress by signing some petition or posting a world-sad rant on Facebook, we know it.
At one level, behind our smiley-face selves and new clothes and “I’m fine” and let-me-use-my-cynical-self-aware-ironic-humour-to-show-you-how-cool-and-hip-and-plugged-in-and-super-“meta”-I-am, we know that few of us are really “thriving”. If we were, there wouldn’t be a self-help section in Indigo/Chapters that has more books than most of us read, in total, in our entire lives. There wouldn’t be factories producing an endless river of psychoactive chemicals for doctors to prescribe to us. We wouldn’t need to “have a few drinks” in order to dance and feel momentarily joyful.
So, let’s be honest for a few minutes here. We have the rest of our lives to live behind our masks. If we want to.