OK, yes, I admit it.
Not as if you haven't noticed anyway, but I have a really stubborn streak and can be what is delightfully known these days as a 'control freak'. Well, nothing quite like a near-death dive to clear one's head. Or as some nameless wit once put it; "an imminent hanging does tend to wonderfully concentrate the mind".
I've gone through my life, and even more so this last phase - the whole illness thing - being as self-reliant as I can be, for many reasons. Probably the most powerful of those reasons is, at root, simple insecurity, aka fear. The sort that always doubts whether you're 'good enough', or lovable, all of that, and so sets about constructing one's external circumstances to consciously create that thing one believes is the best/most impressive/most lovable/most unassailable outward version of oneself. The sort that believes that notions like dignity, nobility, stoicism, honour, are all worthy virtues one can attain and should cultivate for the betterment of oneself and one's fellows. And that kids itself that the true virtue in these sentiments is all there is - that it isn't also, at heart, about a fear of not being liked, or worth sharing one's company.
So I've very stubbornly clung to the altruism, until recent years, when I've very stubbornly stuck into clearing myself of the delusional aspects. But letting go of that need to influence one's surroundings.......well, ask the donkey. There's some base, inherited nature right there in all of us too, isn't there?
People, we all believe our own bullshit most of the time, it's a fact. Except maybe for that 1% in the back of the mind. The same 1% that reminds you that you actually cannot fly or walk through walls whilst under the influence of various nefarious substances. There is a logical and positive reason for it, socially, though and that's to get harmonious with our fellows. Or as they say in shamanism, "fake it 'til you make it". For what we think creates what we say; what we say creates what we do; what we do creates who we become, and the world we move within. Which is why believing one's own bullshit is not necessarily a bad thing, if it gets you past things you need to outgrow.
Ultimately though, all that conscious-creation stuff is all at best remedial. It's using the mind to overcome the vicissitudes of dodgy and disuseful learnings we have made since birth. To get anywhere closer to ourselves than where we found ourselves on the way in, we have to go past the bullshit - past the consciously creating ourselves part - and surrender to what Divinity has in mind (call it what you will). Even when (perhaps especially when) the surrender is to helpless suffering, as I had to do just a little while ago.
For three days and nights in that hospital I went through the questing in the Dark Place, as I fasted and did not sleep, suffered physical pain, and most challenging of all - was forced to watch my mind and my mind alone, fighting it out with the fear of my death. The realisation for me that despite all the work, all the cleansing, all the spiritual and emotional growth, all the stuff beyond the bullshit conscious creation business even......that I was still afraid, was........harsh. I sent out a plaintive cry at the time to the Void Of Online, likening my feeling to that of the migratory buffalo: The buffalo on the riverbank, the slow one in the herd with its ass in the jaws of the crocodile. You could see in my buffalo eye the perfect knowledge of the inevitable, the acceptance that this is the Way Of Things, but also that skein of panic that runs through every cell of material being, and shouts "kick that fucker off! Kick! Kick!"
Turns out I jumped the croc this time, but that eternity of angst within its grasp has both taken its toll and ultimately blessed me with something. A new space within. Without.
I cannot really describe to you the things/memories/patterns/energies that I let go of, lost and grieved for in that time. Nor can I find the words for the space and light that in the end filled me and opened a new window on life - brightening it and washing so much of my overlay of what I thought of as 'self'. Really like cleaning one's filthy sunglasses, it was. The world for a time is not sullied by the spots and films of grime in front of your eyes, insinuating themselves between you and everything you gaze upon. Let's just say that it all brought me a little closer to Cleanliness, of Unselfness, in a good way.
But here, at this point exactly, is the stubborn rub.
I'm still here. And my memories of who I have been and all the consciousness I have brought to bear on my self-creation will always remain intact - a vast screed of past upon which my oh-so-tenacious ego can attach and anchor; all the more powerfully to project yet another pretend future. We are stubborn, we people, in behaving as though we were immortal. We carry a protection from past pain that I like to call our forgettery. And the grand irony is that the better I feel, the more I bounce back in all ways of wellness from this last terrifying, scarifying experience, the more that stubborn part of me wants to stay and party, to do its thing, consciously drive a new me-made self into being - the thing that for the majority of my life I thought was what made me me.
Thus, stubbornly, I now try and remain apart from that ego. Stubbornly, I am being un-stubborn in this way.
The challenge the last few days has been an odd one. I had to let go and be helpless, and I achieved that cleansing surrender for a time. And then I did a thing that was harder for me than almost anything else I have consciously chosen - like piercing one's own flesh slowly - I asked for help, humbly and honestly. I made the decision to let all those people reaching towards me actually touch me materially, and suddenly, I found myself as if rolled beneath a giant set of waves; pummeled into the roaring sand again and again, challenged over and over. You see, every gift makes me feel important and deserving - it feeds my ego, that thing I know is the very thing that makes me fear death, through its need to keep consciously creating a narrative of life - attachment to continuance of itself. Perversely, it is being bolstered by the very mechanism I thought would help me dissolve more into our commonness; our humanity, our Stardust Oneness.
And yes, it does this too. Every gift humbles me, and as I see this conscious me-ness seemingly inflated I see great chips of my volition and ownership fall away, dissolve back to nothing. I grieve their loss at the same time I celebrate it. Can this possibly make sense?
At present, there is a balance. But like a novice high-wire artist, I am wary; relaxation does not yet come easily, despite it being the one and only thing that makes the tightrope walk of life work. I (my ego) am conscious of my (my ego's) will to thrive and once again be master of all it surveys. To repeal the precious surrender. Stubbornly focussing on being unstubborn. Eventually, this faking it will surely make it, and the conscious stubbornness must fall away. I hope. But look carefully, see what I did there? I planned a future again. D'oh!
These things are difficult to articulate, and I hope some truth shines out that you may apprehend it somehow.
At heart, what I am doing is thanking you, dear reader, for bearing witness. My process requires at this point that I share this taint on my being, this wart of ancient conditioning that I guess we all carry the mark of to some extent but which for me right now seems almost like an enemy. My Self. I shall not fight it, but nor do I will its continuance.
I am no longer really afraid, by the way. I realised that there were just a few key practical things underpinning my few truly loved attachments to this world that I have yet to do before I can surrender without fear the next time the croc, or the wolf, or the bear strikes. And I'm doing them. These small acts - planning my funeral, tying up some miniscule details, and going through the process of discovering exactly how much of the circumstances of my death and moving on I do NOT wish to control after all - are delivering me into a new acceptance. An acceptance that my shitty self-ness will stay the course, and that really it's OK. It's funny. In fact, it's absurd.
So truly, deeply, I am grateful for the magnificent mirror of The People - showing me up in my warty yet occasionally satisfyingly glowing glory. For loving and arguing. For being angry and for offering laughter. For the smiles and the tears.
And I hope y'all are still enjoying the ride.
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