Killing My Self

I follow this badass, super-connected, multi-dimensional being on Instagram. I would say it was totally by accident, but… you know, there are no accidents. Anyway, she does these intense videos – of just her talking – that I am powerless to turn away from.

One of these videos popped up recently and I watched it more than once (it’s not important how many times) because her primary concept kept picking at a loose thread in my subconscious mind and I knew I had to unravel it.

She was talking about the new moon energy and how a lot of death was happening. Metaphorical death, the death of beliefs that were no longer useful, ideas of the ego that no longer held sway over emotions, aspects of the personality that were a waste of time and energy. Old grids on which our beliefs were built are disintegrating to make room for new light and new growth, and this thought came to me: I have to kill my “self.” I have to help the Allison that has been trying to protect and control and guide me away from things that may harm me or just make me sad – for about forty years – and toward false identification with the body and thoughts – deep breath – die.

The ego. I’m talking about having a serious sit down with the part of my personality that thinks it is helping me by steering me away from edges and sharp objects. By protecting me from growth.

This now feels like the only way to move forward untethered to the past. There was a certain clarity that came while she was talking, this vision of peeling back many veils, layers and layers of opinions and dusty old truths, that have been dulling my shine, obscuring – like Vaseline on glass – the power of my true “Self” with a capital S. There is a light that has been covered in the soot and grime of good intentions and procrastination and it’s time for it to shine.

I don’t know what this means yet. I just know that all the things I have been doing this year so far, the action I have been taking, is starving the beast and concocting the perfect elixir to reveal whatever is lying beneath.

I have to let her go, this outdated version of Allison. There are some insidious patterns there that whisper of not being enough, or loveable or some such nonsense. Because we all have this secret shame. And just so you know, it’s bullshit. No one is responsible for loving you, but you. No one else is allowed to tell you if you are enough or not. And just to reiterate, you are enough, you are lovable and I’m pretty sure you’re a secret badass too.

I imagine there will be a bit of psychological warfare involved, the ego is tenacious in holding onto its life. And truly, it is necessary – the ego that is – it just needs to be educated, controlled, handed a lollipop and sent to the corner for a while.

While killing aspects of Allison may seem harsh and possibly not even doable, it feels like a healthy portion needs to be excised nonetheless. Perhaps I can deny it attention, overcome its objections and dismantle its reassurances that its necessary for my very survival. Perhaps.

I’m interested in what’s on the other side, but more than that I think I’m interested in the process. Allowing absolute truth (yet to be revealed, stay tuned) to lift the hems of the veils and carry them away one by one. Dissolving back to wherever it was they once came.

Not Anti-Social

Dragonfly IMG_1136

I gave myself a one month reprieve from social media. Let’s call it restriction. Or social media lite. I promised myself I would visit Facebook only to post for business and not to scroll and share videos. I would post only to Instagram for personal use – maybe a photo or two a day – and I would endeavor to blog on the daily and post from WordPress to Facebook.

How did I do?

  • I blogged every day but five. I wrote every day but 2. Sometimes it’s better not to post than to post crap. My personal standard.
  • I was able to get in and out of Facebook with little conflict, but did get a little sucked in on my birthday.
  • I didn’t post to Instagram as much as I expected, which tells me a lot (we’ll get to that).
  • The cravings went away after about a week.

Here’s what I have observed in that month:

My compulsion to pick up my phone and scroll has more to do with wanting to distract myself from the multitude of conversations competing in my head than with wondering what’s going on in the world. When I am in creative mode, I often wander to the kitchen or back porch or grab my phone to steer my thoughts away from the problem at hand. It usually works and the solution materializes, but using more content isn’t the answer. Instead, when I grab my phone to scroll I lose sight all together of what I was noodling in the first place and I am sucked into the couch never to fully recover creatively.

No one asked me where I was. No one wondered why Allison wasn’t posting sloth videos anymore. This was less troubling than confirming of what I postulated would be the result of my absence. We have lost the ability to wait, to be patient, to allow thoughts, ideas or even people to surface in our minds. We are victims of the media. I know that sounds ominous, but think about it: We respond to what is right in front of us. If my friend Mark posts a ton, I have very specific opinions about him based on what he wants me to believe about him. Also I think about him more than some of my closer friends because he shows up in front of me more often. Do I really care what Mark is doing? Only if he pops up in my feed. I wouldn’t actively seek him out. Conclusion: If it’s in front of us we feel compelled to respond, if it’s not, we don’t think about it at all. This is a problem. This is a loss of critical thinking. I know it’s just a portion of the time we are walking around talking and breathing, but it is reshaping us.

In reference to the above Instagram comment: I didn’t post as often I thought I would. I thought I loved to take photos, to capture moments and magic to share. It felt noble, like I was reminding everyone of the beauty of the world, a force for good in the sea of Chicken Littles. Turns out I’m just as attention hungry as the next guy. Because, overall, there is less engagement on Instagram it is somehow less gratifying. Which led me to just one conclusion: I’m doing it for me. I suppose this shouldn’t be revelatory, but it was informative nonetheless.

I used Facebook differently in my time off. I didn’t scroll and that felt like a win and key, but I did go on other than to post for business. I went to specific friend’s pages to see what they were doing. I know a few pregnant ladies so I checked in to see how they were; a friend was traveling and camping and I knew there would be beautiful photos of the mountains so I spied a few times; and I checked in on family. It all felt reassuring and like the correct use of Facebook for me.

In the time I wasn’t scrolling I was able to maximize my time. I continued to organize and purge my home – a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the year. I wrote more, as I mentioned, and I had meaningful conversations with friends. Actual talking on the phone – can you imagine?! I spent time at stop lights observing what was around me – mostly people on their cell phones, and I read more actual books.

Now what?

  • I am going to continue to blog often, I’ll keep that everyday goal right in the front of my brain so I can come close.
  • The notifications will remain off on my phone so I am not driven to see who is doing what and who is liking my posts.
  • I will use Facebook as a means to check-in on, and engage with, people I know and love. A scroll here or there for a set period of time perhaps, but not as procrastination from my real work.

Overall I feel I have learned something about myself and about the culture of social media. At least for my generation. It was a worthy experiment and I can see a lot of value in continuing to honor the boundaries I set. It got me focused on writing again so I’m hopeful to get back to those book ideas, perhaps in lieu of blogging a few times a week. Or more. I like my brain on writing.

Now, about texting…

 

 

 

All in the Family

1516017-R1-E037

One of the side effects of minimizing social media was to be time to work on THE BOOK. In truth there are a few books battling it out in my brain, but the one I have made the most progress on was my intended.

The India Book.

A lot of it has been written. Well, a lot has been written, whether it makes it into the mythic book or not will depend largely on my friends who honestly read and comment, a paid editor and my mood.

This was the plan until yesterday when I made the decision to pick up a memoir I had started reading some time ago – before I realized my world was not under my control – and now I am questioning where to put those writing hours.

The book is Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas. The cover promises a chilling, gripping, and thoughtful read and it does not disappoint. I am fascinated with Ms. Thomas’ self- assessment (and later professional diagnosis) of sociopath and what that means. Her stories of childhood, adulthood, her professional career as an attorney and volunteer Sunday school teacher and her dispassionate, yet raw and honest depiction of these things has me rapt. But more than the actual details of her life and her postulation that sociopathy is a cocktail of genetics and environment, I am deeply in love with her command of language and writing ability.

So much so, that I’m leaning away from India and closer to the “memoir” I accidentally started a few year ago.

By the way, I now understand why it takes some writers 10 years to complete a book. It’s not that they get up every morning and work from 9-5 pounding out prose and researching characters and methods of murder; it’s that they can’t stop editing and complaining and changing their minds. I’m guessing.

Perhaps writing a new chapter for the memoir will lead me back to India.

Telling the stories no one wants told. This single sentence keeps showing up in the front of my mind like a wall street ticker on an Apple product release day. Telling the stories no one wants told…Telling the stories no one wants told…

Sleeping with cousins, inappropriate touching, being slapped down the stairs into labor at nearly nine months pregnant, affairs, illegitimate children, alcoholism, murder, serial marriages, deceit, war, strength, undying love, suffering, living on a boat, living out of a car, killed in the line of duty. It’s all in my family.

It’s all part of my story.

 

It’s Written in Hindu, in the Stars

03-kutch-img_1686

A few months ago, I had my Vedic Astrology chart done. It was infinitely entertaining and confusing. In spite of that, I learned a few things about myself that may explain some of my behaviors. But isn’t that how these always go? We fit our story into the fortune to create a reason from which we gain insight.

In addition, I have been writing my book on India (for four years now, but just recently with for real earnestness) and a few of my traits are being revealed to me here as well.

Stay with me, this all relates to the purging food organizational structure trying to find peace phase I’ve been going through the past 50 years or so.

In the astrology chart it shows that my ruling deity is Yama. He is the god of death. This excited me. What I have learned in this journey is death of anything makes room for new beginnings, new life. The death of an idea, a habit, yes, even a person, creates space. I do not wish to end the lives of others, I do however like to complete things. Moment to moment our inhale dies to the exhale, day dies to night and is reborn 12 hours later. The birth of a child is the death of the pregnancy. One year dies to the next and so on.

This chart also proclaims my dharma (the thing I was born to do) as “carrying things away.” This too, made sense. My favorite creature on the whole planet is the vulture – nature’s humble janitor. THEY CARRY THINGS AWAY. Stuff we don’t want, dead stuff, so we don’t have to deal with it. It’s noble.

The writing has revealed my tendency to live my life in fragmented sentences. Grammatically this would look like … To be continued, more to come, stay tuned. Which is completely counter to carrying things away or ending them.

Balance? Harmony? Insanity?

I rush. I cram too much stuff in. I’m learning to let go of a few things on my schedule.  I’m better at prioritizing. But there’s still a lot I don’t complete.

I noticed this as I was writing about an experience in the desert of India when I was on safari with a group. We were at a park looking for interesting animals and such. When I felt we had seen everything there was to see, I was ready to go. The yoga guru I was traveling with, chose that exact moment to lay down on the hard cracked earth, knees bent, hands folded on his belly. What? Why? C’mon! I walked back to the jeep like a spoiled child denied a treat.

The pouting lasted about 10 minutes. I walked back out to where he was and stood there willing him to hop up, clap his hands and say, “let’s go.” Instead he waxed poetic about all that he could see. For about 20 more minutes. I surrendered – mostly because I didn’t have a choice. When we finally did make it back to our jeeps to leave, the sky turned a brilliant orange. The setting ball of fire filtered through unseen pollution created a magical show for us. That we would have missed had my Vulcan mind meld worked.

I’m great at beginnings. I am an ideator, an instigator, a starter. Initiation is my wheelhouse. Implementation so-so. Completion? Let’s just call that an area of opportunity.

This purging, ordering, organizing, cataloging seems like a reaction to this fragmentation and a fulfillment of my dharma all at once. I am carrying away the stuff I no longer need. Or want. The physical and the energetic – if you believe in that hokum – are being distributed among friends, thrift stores and ebay.

It’s another project started that I intend to see through.

It seems the less stuff I have the more space there will be to complete those sentences. To sit still and notice. To be where I am when I am.

To stay for the sunset.