Friday, September 14, 2007

'self' as a function of 'being'


Enlightenment struck my mind like lightening as I sat on the cheerful orange-red couch, looking into the care-worn face of the woman I was paying to coach me through the 'grieving process'--a process which seemed so simple on paper... In that moment, the two halves of my brain split open like a flowerbud erupting. With exquisite clarity, I awakened to the realization that I had a fixed conception of who I was, who my True Self was. I had this idea that my Self was something that existed somewhere, that it was a thing. And I recognized that most people I knew subscribed to this notion of the 'thingness of self'.

In examining this concept, I found that there were defining moments in my life that seemed to reveal something about me, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I could find myself in a set of circumstances and know, based upon my past experiences and my understanding of who I was as a result, that it was something I could or could not handle. A bully could push another child down and I would fearlessly walk up to him and give him a push back and belittle him. Why wasn't I afraid? Because I knew myself as someone who could withstand a bigger bully than any I would ever find in the school yard (my father) and I knew myself as a protector of those smaller than myself (my sisters). I knew myself as smart and my sisters as pretty, because that is what others said. I knew myself as kind because I found myself unable to intentionally harm another. I knew myself as unlovable, despite all the people in my life who said they loved me, because when I was a girl my mother left me, and if my mother left me, surely there must have been something wrong with me, because your mom is supposed to love you always, no matter what, right? Grandmother told me that a young lady must be cool, calm, collected, cultured, poised, refined, and intelligent, and she did her best to raise me up as such, and for the most part, I self-identified as those things. It was a comfort to know who I was in the uncertain, ever-changing mess that life was.

A few years ago, I found myself experiencing a profound dissatisfaction with who I was, and what's more, a stubborn resistance to changing. I found myself saying "That's just how I am" and "I've always been that way", far too often, using those words as a barrier between my self and the dangers of questioning the nature of that self. Four people I loved died in as many years, and my inability or unwillingness to process and share my pain and grief created a gulf between myself and the living. Eventually, it was my recognition that the stress-response and coping mechanisms I had developed prior to adulthood were hopelessly outdated and needed changing that caused me step outside myself and seek help and open my mind to 'new' ideas.

"I feel lost, I don't know who I am anymore,"
I told my therapist. "I used to know who I was. I need help finding myself, finding better ways to cope with death and stress."

"What if there is no True Self?" My therapist asked me. "What if there is no Self to find? What if the only way to cope with stress is to accept the inevitability of loss and let your old Self die?"

And so I began an inquiry into the nature of the 'thingness of self', and in time that inquiry led me to consider that 'self' is not a static thing, but rather, that 'self' is a function of 'being'. By this, I mean, the self is a function of who we are being in the present moment. And it just so happens that, for much of my life, who I was being was my past. Who I was being was the self I had constructed, the Shining Tower of Self built with stones labeled 'smart' and 'strong' and 'resilient' and 'kind', and in its shadow dwelled all the things about myself I had rejected. The sea of life pounded at this foundation--at the thingness--of my self, and I did battle with it, resenting the intrusions of uncertainty and change and loss.

And as I did so, I grew more rigid. I clung to a way of being that was defined by what had worked for me in the past. I am these things, I told myself, I have these qualities, and I will survive this--I will not be undermined. My stubborn attachment to this sense of myself basically lead me to pretend that everything was fine when it was not. Eventually, the tension created between the circumstances of my life, and the person I was trying to be, made things unbearable for me. I was trying to force the reality of the moment to fit into the mold of the past so I wouldn't have to change.

And one day I stood at the top of the shining tower of self, and I bared myself to the agony of my being, to the agony that who I was being was creating in me, and something happened. For the first time in my adult life I was truly present to the moment, and to my experience of it, and in that moment of transcendence I understood. I understood that who I was was a function of who I was being, and that I was free to choose to be another way, and that I had nothing to lose by embracing each and every moment of my life as it came. I had nothing to lose because the past was dead and I had been living in and being in the past, and in doing so was denying myself life. I once mourned the loss of my innocence, of my wonder, of the magical thinking of childhood. Today I experience wonder and joy. I know innocence when I am not reliving the past in the present moment. And I have embraced 'magical thinking' -- I have learned to think in terms of what is possible -- no matter how improbable -- and pull it toward me, to live it, to live as if it is not just a possibility, but a reality.

Because if who I am is not set in stone, then I can be whoever I want to be. And if who I am is not set in stone, then neither is my future. Anything I want out of life is possible if I am true to the moment, and living in the moment, and being who I want to be, each moment, every moment of my life. So, if I want to know who I am, I have only to examine how I am being. And if how I am being is out of sync with who I want to be, well then, its either time to revise my expectations of who I want to be, or, its time to bring my actions in line with who I want to be, so as to avoid unnecessary anguish and suffering. Who I am (for myself and others) is truly a function of who I am being in the world.

And speaking of being, right now I am being very lazy. I should be packing, not babble-writing.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it remarkable how quickly and easily a feeling can dissolve into the present moment when I remember that I am not my feelings, when I let whatever happens be okay, and, when I do have a feeling, I remember to let it go - here, now.

Let's hear it for The Sedona Method - one of the most powerful methods to release unwanted feelings.

- SacredTouch

12:42 AM, September 15, 2007  
Blogger KR Silkenvoice said...

Hello SacredTouch. I've enjoyed your comments. I'm curious about this Sedona Method, can you tell me more? You can email me at silken.voice at yahoo. Thank you.

8:52 AM, September 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, SilkenVoice. I'll be happy to respond when I can.

- SacredTouch

7:51 PM, September 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Silken,
I always enjoy your blog entries, but this one in particular inspired me very much. You expressed a profound but somewhat familiar idea in a way that was new to me and it resonates deeply.

Thank you!

Zeke

9:44 PM, September 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh please lets return to the naughty bits shall we? all of this navel gazing has become rather undignified. self-help is an *industry* people, stop feeding it, you are fine. and even if you aren't, there is a little clock ticking, counting down the seconds until you check-out. go live in the world and make it a better place before the little bell goes off.

9:24 AM, September 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment of Sept 18 that KR is a talented eroticist. I have read and listened to her sexy submissions for almost two years. However, hers is a versitile talent, as is demonstrated in this lovely piece.

I appreciate that flash moment when an insight occurs. It's happened to me. I wish I could express the feeling as beautifully as Kay has.

Michael

8:21 AM, September 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A haunting and touching journey of self-discovery,the angst and pain does morph into something beautiful
if given a chance...peace and happiness on your path...

11:06 AM, October 19, 2007  

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