The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The past week's struggle

I’ve been opening up the back of my head, and letting some of the snakes crawl out. In preparations for The Path workshops, I have to get my mind as clear as it can possibly be, and to be cable to come from the absolutely cleanest place that I can.  That’s been kind of hard this week, because of multiple factors (and here’s the rub—the deeper you dig into your psyche, the more “reasons” you’ll find not to dig deeper. It never, ever ends.)

We’re still not paid for work contracted almost a year ago.  This creates massive stress.  It is a balancing act to keep that stress from becoming strain.
I heard some really sucky news about an old and dear friend.  Call him Mike.  I’ve known Mike since college.  A very dear, very sweet man, who has never grown up.  He’s never gotten his body together at all—both obesity and hygiene problems have plagued him.  He’s never been married.  He’s never had a job that a 19-year old couldn’t handle.  And yet, he’s one of the smartest people I know.  A few years back he suffered an accident that landed him in the hospital, and he lost his job, his apartment, damned near everything he owns.  And now he is homeless, has been for six months and wouldn’t let his friends know.  I have to try to find a way to help him, all the time fighting my fear that it is just too late.
In the last week two major Hollywood films opened that dealt with race relations.  In both of them an interracial relationship features centrally. In one, a black woman and a white man. In the other, it is a black man and a white woman.   Guess which one is down, dark, destructive, negative, and heartbreaking.  Guess which one is lighthearted, “inspiring”, and has a “happy ending.”  Yeah, you’re right. 

Each of these three things hits me in areas of unresolved, unhealed damage.  It would be easy for me to wallpaper over this stuff, but I can’t do that and simultaneously dig deep, clean out my psychic attic.  I can’t.  So my morning meditations have been some of the darkest and least satisfying in months.  Fear, anger, disappointment…all mixed together to obscure the light.

Fortunately, perhaps, I see all of this as an inevitable part of the process of moving myself to the energetic position where I can, honestly, speak of healing to a roomful of strangers.  Speak of a path to success, peace, love.  How can I not go deeply into the core of my humanity, and if I go there, deeply enough, I will find more of the storehouse of memories and karma that holds us back on our evolutionary journey.

It’s my belief that this is what stops people from genuinely moving forward: they try to ignore this stuff.  They cram their pain into their bodies, ignore their physicality, and try to become spiritual.  They abandon their dreams of creative self-expression or comfortable living, just bury those ambitions, and think that they can walk away from them without actually dealing with their issues, their beliefs, their pain and fear.  They turn a blind eye to their prejudices—or the pain of having suffered prejudice.  They think that the dysfunctional homes they grew up in have nothing to do with their bitterness toward the possibility of lasting love, that their broken hearts speak wisdom when they say that the opposite (or same) sex cannot be trusted with your deepest feelings.

We can only trust others to the extent that we can trust ourselves. If you cannot keep your word to yourself, cannot tell the truth to yourself, cannot see both the ugliness and beauty in your own existence, your chances of dealing with another human being with anything even vaguely resembling compassion, understanding, and wisdom are just about nil.
My friend Mike has a totally inaccurate reality map.  What he thinks he knows, he does not know.  Over and over again, I’ve watched him lie to himself about why he is fat, why he has no resources, why he has never had a real relationship.  Why, in other words, in my opinion, he has remained a child.  If ever, for a single moment, he had actually accepted responsibility, he would have felt the pain of regret so deeply his ego would have wanted to die.

And by mistaking his ego for his true self, he has robbed himself of the opportunity to actually live an authentic life.  It breaks my heart to say that, but I must, because I could not have been friends with Mike all these years had we not traits in common.  Which means that there must be things that I cannot face, excuses I cannot stop making, lies I cannot stop telling myself, ways in which I have avoided becoming an adult human male.
It is so easy.  I can genuinely point to damage done me on gender or racial grounds.  True stuff, stuff I can justify with statistics and anecdotal evidence up the yin-yang.  And none of it matters.  In life, you either have reasons, or you have results.  Either I am going to shoulder the load, and learn to stand up under it, or my son will have to do it, because I wasn’t willing to kill my ego to make the way smoother for him.  I wasn’t willing to be a man.

I disrespected my father for leaving me alone to cope with life.  And I loved him for being the best man he could be.  That conflict, that incongruency lives in me, and in us all in one form or another.  It tears us apart and defines our creative flow, our contact with life energy.

I will not allow it to stop me.  Yes, I have pain, but I also have been given grace—the ability to see the light.  I was given obstacles, but by some miracle, also the strength to struggle on against them for decades, alone in some critical ways, and never stop loving life.  Why?  I’m not sure.  But I know that the Light did not originate with me, and I have an obligation to pass it on. 

So I’ll continue to face my demons, and to talk about what I experience along the way.  It is my way of trying to stay in touch with the truth of my journey.  I don’t know another Way.

No comments: