Monday, February 21, 2011

Afraid of Our Shadows No More

For the first time in, well, anytime I can remember bothering to take note, the groundhog did not see his shadow and we are bound for an early spring. Noteworthy enough, but it brought up the thought -why on earth would an animal be afraid of its own shadow? Surely it knows it has one, accepts it as something present in the environment or as a recognizable and constant stimulus when the sun is out...?
Ahh, the fun one can get out of the anthropomorphizing of animals!
But in thinking on it, I realized something really silly. I've been hiding a lot myself, afraid of "shadows" each time I poke my head out... in terms of criticism, misunderstanding, the ghosts of things that might happen that probably won't but hey, that doesn't stop my brain from worrying about them.
These might be those very "hooks" that Pema Chodron talked about, though usually they're associated with anger, getting caught up. It seems to me they might work for anything, since fear often skips hand in hand with anger in many peoples' lives.
I had originally wanted to have a place to detail my thoughts where they would not be seen by the majority of people that knew me... I will be honest, I knew that they probably wouldn't like what I read. At the time I took a great deal of pride in being blunt and anger and derisive comments came to me far more easily than compassion or empathy did. This was my sounding board for what bothered me.
Somehow both it and I evolved, however... it finally became what I originally intended it to be, a record of my transition from a bitchy, assumptive, abrassive twenty-something in to a... well, sometimes bitchy but much calmer thirty-something that is at least aware that she's making the assumptions when she thinks or acts. I'm kind of proud of the transformation, especially in the last few months.
For the first time since I began this blog, I started posting links to it publicly where anyone could find it and read. I guess I understand that people might read back through and be offended by the person I was who posted those things before (after all, she is inside me now, a part of what helped me grow to this point) but I think I've got the mental strength to take a step back and understand them, understand it's their initial reaction to seeing something I might not have mentioned to their face, and going from there.
I do expect fallout, but if there is no other lesson to be gleaned from this lifetime, it is "growth hurts like a bitch, and things change."
I suppose that's two things, but they skip hand in hand together as well.
I set out a few years ago to try and meditate, grow in understanding, empathy and compassion and become a decent Buddhist. While we aren't even done tying our shoelaces at the start line for the race to the enlightenment finish line, the shifts have already been enormous. I find my creative energy flows far more freely now. I try more things than before. But I also find that the fear is stronger, because the sarcasm and masks I used to hold up between myself and those who might look at my work are no longer there. Everything is raw because I am allowing it to touch me for the first time. Coupled with recent shifts in my physiology and it is very akin to going through puberty once more. Everything is immediate, raw, guttural, emotional... but it is also instinctive and based on intuition in a way I've never allowed myself to be before.
This person that emerged is actually fairly awesome, and I don't feel like I'm using inflated language to say so for the first time.
One of my favorite pieces of literature that I've read during this massive physical, mental and emotional transition has been The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. While he does suffer from overpopularity by people who don't think too deeply on his work and just like to have it on their coffee mugs, this one piece actually carries deep meaning. Most meaningful has been the short work on Love; specifically these words-

"When love beckons to you follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning."

A pardon I ask for the Christian connotations of "crucify" in here, but it is quite correct.. if you're going to do any sort of growth, if you are going to really experience anything, then it is going to freaking HURT because you have to let it in there and root around. Make changes. Rearrange what you thought of things, how you react now. And being delicate flesh, fragile like glass but strong as stones, we ache as we undergo these transformations. Whenever I think on why it sucks so much to want to change things, my mind hearkens back to this and reminds me hey... change sucks but it is beautiful.

A very long post for sure, given how short they'd been (as well as inconstant). I felt it was becoming strangled by my fear of what I could not say publicly and it slowed to a halt under the pressure of the fear. I'm done with that now. I'll speak my mind, yes, but it will be done with understanding instead of judgment -at least as best as I can manage. I will let people read it. I will let people talk about it. I will even let people get angry about it, because I don't have control over that. I only have control over myself and my own growth, and I can't let fear of what might be get in the way.

When you realize that you've dropped the negativity and those who might bring it in to your life suddenly aren't talking to you as often, it's a good sign something's going right.

But that's a post for another day. :)

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