This is an old bit of cultural critique writing I did years ago for an online project called Naturally Subversive.
It’s not uncommon in today’s modern culture to be exposed, though the truth of this indoctrination is not often what it’s thought to be. It’s not the popular punk or rock culture or even the dark underworlds of suppressed culture that are doing the direst of damage to tender young psyches. Rather, children are thrust into various societal ‘forming’ situations (institutionalized), each adjoined with numerous expectations and alien (outside) perspectives. Being told what to look like, what to sound like, what to act like, what to be like – ultimately coached into effectively believing only one thing: they, in and of only themselves, are not ‘enough’ (valuable) or worse, they are ‘the problem.’ Confidence and resilience of human spirit are being stripped from them more and more with each stern correction, each advertisement promoting their fabricated ‘lack,’ and each time they’re coached into making a decision out of fear rather than discovery.
Where and why and how this all came about might be interesting. The ‘who’ that started this type of judgmental trend may have a few words in which we could discover some answers. The past, however, is not the point. There is nothing to be done about what’s already happened; we must take action and make changes. The future is equally futile, especially at a time when we’ve injected so much physical uncertainty within its unending spiritual promise. It is for these reasons that we will focus on the here and now, the only actionable place in the whole of our existence.
Still, we must continue beyond our first inclination. It is not so much about a physical here (America -> Colorado -> Fort Collins) or now (2015 -> April -> 2nd) as it is the present (your presence). Places and dates mean nothing because they themselves are merely tools created to assist our fractional understanding, or as Einstein said: “time only exists so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” In these moments that pass as you’re reading this, come back into the present, return to your self and the source of your reality – find your part of the all-sustaining energy, that place in you where everything really does happen all at once. This may be very uncomfortable, especially if you haven’t done it before. You may feel a strong urgency to distract yourself with some menial task or dismiss this as ‘mumbo jumbo’ and yet, you know what it is I’m asking of you, even if you have never thought of it before.
Truth remains. In fact, truth is the only constant; by very definition, is has to be is what is. Thus, despite having ‘lost it’ you know what your center is. You may have a vague sense of place (‘home’) or a distinct feeling (‘peace’) that marks it for you, and though it’s not something in and of itself to fear, your semi-conscious awareness of this within yourself is frightening. Let’s examine that: where did this feeling of unease within your being come from? Who told you that remaining within yourself was dangerous? Did someone punish you for your playful careless daydreaming as a child (or adult)? What response to this peaceful meditation are you fearful of?
Personally, there are many things revealed when I start probing my pain or discomfort, and this is great because it allows me to confront anything that isn’t true. For example: when I return to my presence, I often get distracted with thought of tasks that I need ‘to do.’ These thoughts are usually also accompanied by thoughts of how/why I should do these things, which in turn are also accompanied by other thoughts that get more vicious and demeaning the longer I choose to ignore them, saying things like: ‘I’m just lazy, that’s why I’m not doing what I’ve decided is important,’ or ‘This is crazy, I’m crazy – how could this ‘presence’ stuff really matter when I haven’t done x, y, and z yet!’ Hurtful? Potentially, but why? Why am I so desperate to bully myself into ‘doing?’ The discomfort I feel about not accomplishing tasks is a means of self-manipulation. Initially, this belief was engrained in me as a child because my father was very task oriented and I quickly learned to associate the discomfort of his disapproval with not completing tasks. Unfortunately, like many lessons learned young, this experience morphed into a template within which I organized my life: menial tasks became important to me because I was afraid of my dad and the punishment I would receive if I didn’t have a list of accomplishments crossed off each day, but they remained important to me because I never challenged that fear.
As an adult I don’t have to worry about disappointing my dad, yet for years I’ve allowed myself to be a victim of my anxious nerves, fearful of never having done ‘enough’ to justify my being alive that day. It’s only been through a lifetime of self-query that I even began to notice what was going on. At nights I’ll still sometimes find myself scrambling to clean up so that my house meets extinct standards, yet, this phenomenon is no longer threatening to me because I’ve been actively reframing the way I see discomfort. I know now that the remnants of our past are not there to haunt us (unless we so chose) but rather as beacons of hope for what could be different. Now, when I find myself worked up into frenzy over some trivial task I just stop and ask myself “what’s more important, this task or my presence?” As you can imagine, there’s only one way it’s ever answered.
When I’m all worked up, my presence itself becomes tumultuous: not only can I feel the physical discomforts of anxiety, it’s always coupled with mental confusion and emotional turmoil as well. When I allow it, my presence can be disgustingly fractured into shards of bitterness, anger, confusion, distrust, loneliness, despair, selfishness, panic, etc… Without even realizing, I have the ability to morph into an entity that gives off ‘negative vibes’ and consequently negatively affect everything in my path. Of course, it’s only in taking back control of my presence that I can affectively change the impact of my reality. By changing the meaning of my discomfort from an indication of fault on my part to an indication of a fault on the part of imposed perceptions, I am able to take back the control they otherwise run away with.
It’s important to remember that this ‘take back,’ however forceful it may sound, isn’t an aggravated act. It isn’t an act of anger or frustration because those discomforts would be other indications of some underlying misunderstanding. Instead, this ‘take back’ is a gracious act of acceptance and understanding. The problem was never that we didn’t have power, but that we didn’t know we had power and were to afraid to investigate. Rather than indicators of necessary avoidance, pains are an indicator of needed attention. If I broke my ankle and refused to even look at it for fear of the pain I would in essence be dooming myself to living with it (and its inevitable complications) for the rest of my life, dragging myself about in terrible ignorance for fear of what has already come to be: the pain itself (because we were told, and ended up believing, that pain = bad). No, if I am to heal and recover, I must acknowledge the break and furthermore, I must let it be examined fully. I must be attentive to the pain and notice the wheres, hows, and intensities of it if I ever hope to recover from the break. Pain within our presence is no different: it’s merely an invitation to heal.
I would like to offer you encouragement and support, with hope that you might turn back to your pain and extend both acceptance and love. Weep if you must, I know I did upon realizing how horrifically I’d been treating myself. I couldn’t help but dislodge all of my suppressed emotions all at once, and that wasn’t just okay, it was powerful and transformative. YOU ARE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. No task, no title, and no other ‘measure’ used to differentiate and define you have any real power unless you have given it that power. Go ahead, get curious about your pains and discover for yourself what damage you’ve been unknowingly inflicting on yourself, and then begin your true important work: the process of healing. Tell yourself you are sorry, tell yourself you forgive you, let the waves of peace, comfort, love, and connection you’ve been fighting back against pull you in and wrap you up. Allow yourself to fall into the simplicity of your breath, take comfort that this responsibility and even that of your heart beat have been taken from you that you might LIVE! Allow yourself to dissolve back into the center, float past the ‘shoulds,’ ‘woulds,’ and ‘musts’ until you find the truth again. Push back against the lies until you can declare: I am enough!