Pondering in December

Dear Lord, I have had a lot on my mind this year. Need to journal about it here and perhaps this post will remain left up, unlike most I’ve written in recent months where I was working through emotions and thoughts in a less constructive manner. But confessions to the universe feel necessary, so here I am again today.

Anxiety. Depression. Guilt. Shame. Betrayal. Overwhelmment. Fear of abandonment by Life and by others. Bewilderment. Confusion. Angst and aggression. Personal reckoning. Reflecting on family history. Burdening. Grief and heartbreak. What is love and what does it ask of me? Change, but into what? And how? Questioning “self-respect,” “dignity,” and self-acceptance.

Those are the topics plaguing my mind over and over throughout this past year. Some have been with me for a very long time before, whereas others have really come to the surface in recent years. All must be hashed out and reckoned with, so this is the stage in my journey at present, and I am pulling from all sorts of resources, searching far and wide, in order to do so, as will continue.

People like to tell me that I simply need to think less, need to meditate, need to get outside of my head, need to cease “over-complicating” life. While I understand where they think they’re coming from, very often these suggestions leave me feeling like they’re telling me to cease being who I am, and that I cannot do. Though change is indeed necessary, voiding who I am is not an option — not realistic nor even desirable in the long-run, not in full. People probably mean well, but the human condition requires introspection, insight, and personal reckoning in a conscious manner, not simply closing off one’s mind or retreating into distractions and believing that to be “progress.” Tried that already for plenty of years, yet here I am anyway. Emptying one’s mind of thoughts strikes me as a lovely fantasy (lovely only in the sense that sometimes it’s appealing to imagine escaping myself), but nothing more. To get through this requires going in and getting to the other side, however long it takes, and however much of a bore or a pain in the ass this leads others to view me as. So be it.

We each have to rumble with life with the tools we have at our disposal, which are at least partly determined by our own unique personalities. While I understand that many folks apparently detest analytical types, that cannot be my problem. If part of the goal here is self-acceptance, then that is surely a feature of my personality that I will have to learn to embrace instead of making apologies for it. We weren’t all set here on this planet so as to make one another comfortable nor to merely entertain.

Pain and suffering — welcome to living. One can run but one can’t hide.

A realization that does give me some modicum of peace or at least a reduction in anxiety and the pressure to take life so seriously is to grasp that I choose to be here, to continue living. Life may be foisted upon us initially without our consent, but we consent to continue at it by waking up each day and not sticking a gun in our mouths and pulling the trigger. Have a gun in my bedroom so nothing stops me from opting for that outcome if I see no other way out. I know this and keep it in mind nearly every day. Provides me some small dose of…what? contentment? Maybe so. Can’t find the right word to describe the feeling. Just helps to know I have options and yet continue choosing to get up and face life and ask questions and query my soul and ponder on the possibilities going forward. It’s a conscious choice, not a prison sentence imposed upon any of us who possess the ability to do otherwise.

Helps me to keep that in mind. Helps so as not to feel too overwhelmed by everything coming my way from without and within.

Life’s a mystery that none of us can ever fully figure out. That’s just the way it goes. And those who profess certainty typically are the most deluded, clinging to what they wish were true rather than aiming to explore what is.

None of us are saints. Some of us are worse than others. But apparently all is dynamic in this respect, ever-changing and in motion with the potential to grow and expand. There’s beauty in that realization, along with a realistic hope for some sort of honest redemption. Atonement.

It’s not possible, at least in my little world, to simply wake up one day and love myself completely without any regrets or guilt holding me back. Might never be. And I can accept that so long as progress can be made, day by day. I’m not asking for or even interested in a rose garden, just a process that makes sense that can lead me to a better and more stable state of mind. Happiness gets to looking so overrated after a while, seeing as how people speak of it as though it’s a destination rather than a product of the process in its later stages. Greater contentment is all I’ve ever wished to truly strive for, and for me that means reaching a point where I can more maturely handle what life tosses my way and behave in a more productive fashion and build meaningful relationships based off of that foundation. That’s what I desire out of this life in moving forward.

And I have a lot of work to do if ever I wish to arrive at that outcome. People like to say that life’s so simple if we’d simply get out of our own ways. Yes and no. The human mind is very complex and has inner workings that we don’t (and can’t) always understand or even be fully cognizant of. Perhaps some people are wired differently than others, like Eckhart Tolle and his talk of sitting on park benches day in and day out, observing the beauty of life while not thinking about anything in particular. That is not my dream. Sounds like negation of human life. But living as a tortured neurotic is certainly not something I can tolerate forevermore either. There’s a balance somewhere to be reached, and perhaps we each have to make our way there on our own.

It never ceases to amaze me how much conflicts and complexes first experienced/created in childhood tend to carry forward throughout our lives, whether we are conscious to it or not. Then we’re taxed with sorting them out and shining light on them and figuring out how to overcome them so as to become mature adults. Sounds easy, but apparently it’s anything but considering how many in their 50s are still battling with such issues. Guess I should be grateful to at least hit my proverbial wall a bit earlier in life so as to get this transformative process underway a bit sooner. Will acknowledge the blessings wherever they show themselves.

Bitterness isn’t an emotional state worth dwelling in for years on end. Poisons the soul and all relationships. Disrupts the mind and stokes paranoia. Keeps a person oscillating in the blame game, wishing to off-load some of the responsibility onto others because it feels like too much for one alone to bear. Pain likes to pay forward — that’s the truest statement I personally can offer from my experiences thus far.

Am not proud of myself currently, not in most areas of my life. But I have a tendency to be rather hard on me too. Compassion for oneself is needed, seeing as how we’re all fallible beings who are learning through trial and error. Compassion for others flows from being able to show it to oneself. It’s very easy to get caught up in criticizing and casting blame and off-loading responsibility and defending ourselves and our choices and actions, but where does it ever end? In a huge battle? In a bunch of damaged egos remaining infantile? In pain paying forward.

I am a comfort-seeker. Hedonism and escapism became a way for me to manage my life. Still pretty confused on what would be a higher path, a better way, seeing as how a lot of the traditional ideas strike me as either incomplete or archaic or relatively obsolete. Guess they have to be mined for what nuggets of value they do possess, as I actively am trying to do. Today it dawned on me that I don’t exactly know who I am or who I wish to be. Just not sure entirely. Not certain if anyone is entirely sure there either. Maybe it’s just all an unfolding process and there is no static answer to that question. People speak of values, yet I observe many hypocritical contradictions. I value honesty, up to a point. I value integrity and courage, though my own is lacking at present. I value individuality yet am aware that the collective and the individual are flipsides to the same coin and cannot be meaningfully separated from one another, which leaves me a bit perplexed on how to navigate moving forward in that respect. I value love, even as I recognize the sadomasochistic strivings within myself that promise to undermine it again and again if not resolved satisfactorily. I value knowledge and learning, keeping in mind that there is no 100% certainty in any area of life and that all can’t help but be relative.

Perhaps that’s what yin and yang really is — embracing the contradictions and letting them live side by side without trying to align fully with one or the other. But how does one take effective action with that sort of outlook on life? That’s the big question and the current predicament.

The other big predicament for me at this time is letting go of the past and/or figuring out ways to reframe it so that it’s more constructive and conducive for moving on. Within that is a call for forgiveness, for others and for my own self. This is presenting a major challenge to me at present. I do not have the answers and imagine this is one of those areas in life where you have to take a step along some sort of process without yet being able to see the full staircase you’re aiming to climb. And that’s where faith enters into the equation.

Humans are a mixed-up lot, that goes without saying. This apparently is the burden of our species, to make some sort of sense out of life and living and ourselves and our place within all of this. Cue the myth of the Garden of Eden and its Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Nobody said this project of disembarking from the rest of the animal kingdom would be easy, and if they did they lied. These mysteries are both fascinating and bewildering, to say the least. I guess my goal each day must be to try to expand my horizons and reckon with what I am able and try to walk along a path that feels like it’s a better and truer way than where I’ve been before. Even if it hurts. Taking flight from pain and suffering didn’t deliver me from it — just postponed the inevitable for a little while and created more grief and destruction than it was worth, for myself and others closest to me. Owe it to myself and them to get my shit together and to learn to walk more upright. Spinning noncommittally in this whirlwind can’t be allowed to go on forever.

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