The authentic self with nowhere to hide.
As promised to a good friend of mine, I am hoping to approach writing here at a more personal level and less of a professorial level. I will still have my serious writing appear with focus on Jungian themes such as alchemy, archetypes and so on. But, I will also find time (and courage) to bare it all on an interpersonal level here. More often than not, when I begin to reflect on something I have read from my Buddhist studies, I do so from a deeply personal point of view. Yet, to be truly transparent and authentic, I must allow my self to be exposed here rather than remain hidden behind the words I write here.
So why is this important? My wife is always asking me why I find it necessary to tell the world rather than keep it private. I guess the best answer that I can give, is the answer I give her, that in keeping it all private, there is an oppressive sense that I am hiding in a closet in order to stay safe, something that I physically had to do as a young child. I hid in boxes, closets and elsewhere hoping to be safe. And as I got older, as a youth, I learned to hide within myself, build barriers so that I would not be seen and thus not hurt, as much. As an adult, the barriers were thick, so thick that I lost track of that hidden and protected self along with all the garbage, the history and the shame. I was a successful, very successful teacher, coach and therapist. Even though I am an introvert, I was able to be active enough in the community to be respected in spite of being a French-Canadian in a basically francophobe society. It all worked until the barriers began crumbling.
I am somewhat of a slow learner when it comes to dealing with change. I spent years trying to patch up the cracks with no success. When it finally became evident that I couldn’t stop the collapse of the dam holding back all that I had denied about myself, denied to myself, to my wife, to my family and to the world, I ran – literally. And when running everyday through blizzards and all failed to give me the release, failed to slow down the flood of contents spilling out into my life, I began to run in a different way. I found myself becoming a principal in a new school every year until the last school where it seemed there was no where else left to run, a school I was principal for three years before retiring. Still, the running continued as I hurried from country to country with camera in hand, hoping that the distraction would be enough.
In spite of the running, in spite of a return to meditation and becoming a Buddhist, in spite of a return to naturalism and of taking the opportunity to relax in retirement, I found that I continued to deny myself. I continue to look to others for permission – no permission, then bury the need and desire and hope it stays buried so that I can be accepted as a somewhat normal person. Of course, there is no such thing as a normal person, but there is a range of normality within which I still don’t feel I fit in and belong.
That leaves me with one final option – to hell with it all and just be, warts and all. Good answer? Who knows, it is my answer.
Update: As the day goes on
Now, on a personal, and perhaps trivial level, this is my day. Yesterday I returned to my practice, almost habit, of meditation in the morning, something I have not done well with for the last week for a host of reasons most of which boil down to feeling depressed with a lack of giving myself permission to meditate au naturel. I found a tiny corner where no one could see me thus embarrassing me by getting caught with my pants down. After a relatively quick breakfast and time for writing the main entry above, M. and I went snorkelling off the beach here in Puerto Morelos.
The afternoon is now too hot for snorkelling, and often too windy as well. After lunch I am off on my own to find a quiet and secluded place near the beach where brushes hide little open spaces with beds of beach sand. Once settled in, I will do some reading and listening to music. Today’s reading material is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. On my Sony Walkman is music by Ravi Shankar, Loreena McKennett, and Yanni – music that makes sunbathing time pass in peace.
This evening I will be listening to the Ottawa Senators NHL hockey game with hopes that the team can continue its remarkable success so far this season. And, if time, energy and the will is found, I will do some more writing.