Monday, April 13, 2015

Know Thyself

“Not for the first time she reflected that there were many drawbacks to being a swordswoman, not least of which was that men didn’t take you seriously until you’d actually killed them, by which time it didn’t really matter anyway.”
 - Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic

Lately, my meditation has drifted to thoughts of uncertainty like a brick drifts to the ground when dropped off a cliff. I’ve had this life-changing AFOG and I’ve somehow lost the thread of the conversation. I’ve been trying to reason out problems, and ever failing for lack of trying. F for effort.

There are probably thousands of self-helpy books about personal journeys of growth and the wisdom of the ages I could google for a lifeline or even a clue. But I’m not trying to have an original thought here, let alone to discover one dropped along somebody else’s profit margins. I’m trying to find my own path – to figure out what all this is doing to me. The quote in my recent post about Japanese gardens says the best way to learn is to watch the masters. Certainly don’t read. Don’t even listen. Watch.

It seems like I’ve been studying all my life to pay attention, and this is the final exam. But I’m not confident of passing – of learning what I think. Because these days I’m unable to think for very long. Enlightenment doesn’t even make the top ten. It’s somewhere after seeing an orthodontist. I’m stuck in this grieving ADHD where I can’t seem to get on with the business of getting on. I’m going back and forth in place along on this mood swing, madly trying that trick where you swing so hard, you go over the top and come down the other way. 

Some days I feel - if not happy - I feel comfortably content - like this is exactly where I am and it’s good to be home. It’s not a feeling I’m familiar with. Or rather it is, but with some new aspects that I didn’t see before about how to be happy with being content. Some days I unaccountably laugh maniacally.

Some days I feel so lost that I know to a nano-tolerance exactly where I am but absolutely everything else around me is hopelessly lost and I never want to find any of it again. Some days my mood is several shades darker than black only jagged like lava rock so sharp you don’t know you’re cut until you see your blood. Some days I unaccountably cry. (I am getting over the raging anger that makes my heart literally pound. That happens less. I'm taking some of the aggressive air pressure out of  passive.)

Most days end with me so dizzy from swinging around in circles that I could open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.

In brief moments, I’m perfectly balanced in the now. I’m able to realize the extremes are just the bad parts of the dream, and things will smooth out. Sometimes I’m so fucking insightful and farsighted I can see out the other side – as long as it is as obvious as an oncoming train. But about then I lean into the swing to push that process along, trying to break the laws of entropy by rushing us all to the heat death of the universe.

In the midst of this I experience brief moments of sanity, I glimpse a vision of survival and ease. I feel so much better. In those moments, I observe that the trick of the masters is to stay in that balanced place. Somebody else has probably already flogged the mood swing analogy to death by smashing the seat with a baseball bat. But I figured it out all on my own. And I did it by watching, and practicing and doing.

I can physically balance a little better too. And I’ve been reading the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld from the beginning. He’s in great part responsible for the mentally good days (this guy’s superpower was metaphor – many of which inspired this post). Which brings me to his observations about the drawbacks of one’s chosen life’s work being appreciated only posthumously. I want to know myself. Preferably before I die.

This is the direction I have now taken on the handbrake turn careening down this particularly steep stretch of the road of my life; I don’t need no respect from no boys. Nor do I need the authorization and/or appreciation of a man. For the first time in my life, I don’t need any man to take me seriously and it doesn’t hurt me if they don’t. It doesn’t matter to me.


So next, I get to figure out how to take myself seriously. But before I can take myself seriously, I don’t have to kill someone. Instead I just have to meet myself. Only, I just have to catch my attention first. At the rate this is taking, I’ll have learned by then how to survive the encounter with the swordswoman.

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