Thursday, 21 June 2012

It's both enlightening and disturbing to realise how much we make our own reality.  It comes in over time, dripping in like raindrops on carved rock, via those big and little thoughts that are constantly moving across our minds like clouds.  We are free to accept or dismiss any one of them.  Except for when we've become chained.  Most times we are chained before we are old enough to know that we are.  And then we move into our lives feeling beholden to accept certain thoughts every time they come, though they torment us.  They have become like the monster Snow White must turn and fight off deep in the forest.

Those hardest-to-dismiss thoughts become deeply carved ruts in the road of our mind, where they harden into beliefs.  Our little carts fall into them and get jammed every time.  We've driven down these roads countless times before.  Sometimes, perversely, we even like to drive down them precisely because they are painful, and we want to punish ourselves for not being what we expect ourselves to be.  The ruts have become part of our story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.

Sometimes we find ourselves down the rutted roads not out of self-punishment but simply because we've driven down them so many times that it has become second nature.  Just like when we drive well-worn routes and then realise at the end of them that we have no conscious recollection of actually driving here.  Finding ourselves once again in these spaces can make us feel as helpless as a newborn, swamped by despair at how to change what feels unchangeable, that which we can barely see.  The despair comes out of spaces of frustration where we don't know what to do, how to change, how to stop, how to start, where parts of us are still weeping, and that need reconciling, healing, hearing, patting, soothing.  What we need is encouragement that we can turn off the rutted highway and forge a new road where there isn't yet one.

Surely it's the hardest work we do in our lives, forging new paths, though the benefits are amazing and the work is honourable.  But how do you get to where you want to go when you have never been there before?  How do you know what you need to carry with you that is going to help you get there?  Sometimes our dreams tell us, sometimes what comes off the end of the pencil as we doodle tell us.  Fairy tales tell us.  Images that come from a disparity of sources tell us (for me lately it's ravens).  It's a very foggy guessing that feels quite unreliable.  But we just start where we suspect we need to start, suspecting that to carve out this path maybe we are going to need a machete, and a hoe, and a ... what the hell?  What has this bloody raven got to do with anything?  And you shrug and start hacking away, and oftentimes you find, like a present some deeper part of you has wrapped up for yourself, answers and deeper understanding further along the path.  For me, I am thinking at the beginning of yet another path that getting to where I want to go is possibly going to involve some of this tool, and some of this tool

The hardest thoughts of all to diminish and dismiss are the ones that are tied to unconscious beliefs.  You know, those things that in the commonplace world of logic you know you don't want to believe, and in a sense you don't.  But in another deeper sense you do, which is why they keep appearing all the time.  Oftentimes they appear disguised as irritations we feel about others, things we are projecting onto them that are really what is hounding us on the inside.

Chances are those thoughts and neuroses are hooking their tails around something that lives in that shadowy realm of the unconscious, where all those dreams and images live, where we are like enormous icebergs and the unconscious is the part that is submerged.  Where we know not what we do - or if we do, we know not why we do.  Not clearly enough to see a clear path.

I've become pretty enamoured with sitting in the middle of the road until I see where I need to begin carving a new path.  One that leads to I barely know what.  But other parts of me know very well where those paths lead.  Being prepared to walk them is part of the conscious mind's work.  Believing that there is something magical at the end of those paths becomes easier now I've walked some of them before.  I get to see the trees light up in my own forest.  I get to meet characters that I have not known before me, who wish to help me when I return to the topside world.  How beautiful it is.

Believing I shall carve a path when it relates to the biggest monster in my arsenal is much harder.  And yet, all those other paths I have carved are related to this same monster.  It seems that he needs to be beaten by carving many paths, not just one.  And carving out the new path does not really get any easier, it just gets more hopeful that there may possibly be a resolution.

But still, all I can do is walk the path.  And keep my eyes open for the surprises.


  1. What a beautiful, and apt, description of the schemes we all have. Those places in us that are so deeply ingrained that we interpret everything we experience through them, even if we aren't interpreting accurately. The "ruts in our mind", as you say, that direct our self-perception.

    I'm struggling with a place like this right now...the one that says it's not ok to make someone unhappy, even if the reason for the unhappiness is their own. And then wanting to inconvenience myself to fix it for them, even if it's not my thing and has nothing to do with me. It's a form of compassion, I know, but it can be debilitating. And then, being in a situation where someone is going to be unhappy...either this person or that person, no matter what I's so hard to choose how to handle it. 

  2. Thanks, Erin.  It's pretty cool that you recognise WHY it's something that you're struggling with - because it's a form of compassion.  I think those things are more difficult to untangle because you feel guilty about untangling them, and then you get all of those "what a selfish person I am" and all of that sort of stuff.  I understand this too.  Feeling that other people are upset with me is something I am really struggling to get past, but it's kinda necessary if we're gonna be free, ain't it.  And yeah, trying to please everybody - it's like you know it's not doable, but it still feels like it should be!

  3. Superb. I think you sum it all up at the end - keep open to surprises. And know that the essence of who you are can never be harmed as you lay down new, conscious paths.

  4.  That's a beautiful thought, Harry.  Thanks :)

  5. I've been studying "professional boundaries" and have been trying to apply it in real life, too...and it's SO hard for me to set limits and to let people own their own stuff, instead of trying to rescue them from whatever they are feeling. It really is an exercise in self-compassion, and knowing that not everything is my fault nor my responsibility. What's hardest is when someone TELLS me it's my fault or my responsibility, even if it's not, and then insists that I fix the way they feel. I HATE that. It's so hard not to apologize for whatever I didn't do to contribute to the problem, but they think I did. 

  6. Do you think that that lies at the core of it - that everything is your fault? I feel like that too ... or have learned that.  I feel one of the lies I have believed is that I am unlovable, and so I think that I have to earn it, maybe.  I'm not sure. My mother is very passive, so I have learned that directly from her, too. 

    It's crazy feeling like that too because if we were REALLY compassionate about other people we would let them fail because that's where the light's gonna get in, as Leonard Cohen likes to remind us. 

    I would imagine that being a mother ingrains that desire to rescue, too.  Because society rewards mothers so much, it must be hard to let that go.

    I totally undersatnd that trying hard not to apologise thing.  Sheesh. 

    I guess learning these things took long time to ingrain, so it will take a while to ... ungrain.

    I've been doing a bit of Byron Katie's "work" today (  Simple and interesting exercise ... and I am feeling very peaceful now!  :)

  7. "Sometimes we find ourselves down the rutted roads not out of self-punishment but simply because we've driven down them so many times that it has become second nature."

    A truer truth than many truths I've heard.

  8. I know being the oldest child has made me take on more responsibility rescuing others than I should (as a personality). It's permeated my entire life.

    That "Work" thing looks interesting...I'm going to check it out.

  9. "Sometimes we find ourselves down the rutted roads not out of self-punishment but simply because we've driven down them so many times that it has become second nature."

    A truer truth than many truths I've heard.


Newer Older