My being is going to act out and alter its consciousness. That’s going to happen. I can re-direct the energy inward as yet another way of feeding depression/self-blame/shame spiraling…I can manipulate it externally by returning to the well-worn groove of overeating, or I can finally start working with other ways of altering consciousness besides those two familiar paths (and others I’m not immediately thinking of). Whatever I do, there’s no going back. I’ve opened pandora’s box and despite how much my Inner Child as he’s currently comprised longs to, I can’t just shove all this Millennial self-awareness (which I’ve taken to 11 as an Enneagram type 4 and introvert with a spiritual bend) back in the box and be the grounded, Midwestern homebody I always wanted to be to keep everyone back home happy and to cease to exist for anything other than duty and life’s simple pleasures. It’s going to go somewhere, and right now the only place it has to go is old patterns of isolation and food addiction. Generally, the other ways to go are different forms of maturing. Since its 2020 and I’m a privileged white guy, this could in theory involve any number of visions of “mature”, namely a mature pickup artist, salesman, professor, board game player, ecstatic dancer, youth mentor, etc etc. There’s no one overarching vision for mature, just more a vague ‘feel’ for mature that we know when we see it and experience it. That’s what it means to mature in a meta-modern world. So how to pick? Well, by submitting to the one’s that have picked me, and ceasing to resist them by hanging on to old ways of being and old stories.
There’s no escape from life. I’ve found much solace in the story of the wounded healer and the idea that I was isolating myself last year as part of an induction into Shamanism. And that’s partially true…but there was a lot of ego in that vision that needed to be burned off. I’d like to think this recent period of putting on 50 pounds and getting good and depressed did just that. Conventionally, that all sounds bad and all, but in the broader context of my life, it was a necessary (over)corrective. Easy to do, lot’s of people do it, not lot’s of people write about it nakedly on the internet or admit it even to themselves. More should. So I will, even if it’s part of an impossibly long post that likely speaks into the void of endless internet content.
Back to the Shamanism piece – I’m just like the people this woman describes who get interested in the idea of being a Shaman but get the hell out of dodge as soon as they confront what it will take to initiate, to mature, to cross the threshold into a new way of being instead of just a new story about oneself. That’s been the lesson for me in the East. A social structure and social support is required to grow. In the video, the people putting on the initiation rite are there to guide, support, and encourage the initiate. Of course, paradoxically, it can only be endured or pushed through alone, that’s where the autonomy piece comes in. The individual is ‘forced through’ at certain points of weakness, and allowed to decide in others. Eventually, we want to see ourselves internalize this new way of being so that it can exist outside the original container that birthed it, but I was trying to self-birth it in a way…which is a path that certain streams of internet shamanism seem to promote, but which smacks of hyper-individualism. And yet, social groups and contexts really can and frequently do go horribly wrong in a number of ways. Autonomy means finding one’s way to function within the group, which in metamodern society means within multiple groups. The meaning of sacrifice through autonomy, one of three themes for my 30s that came to me from my deep subconscious as part of a solo retreat a few years back, becomes more clear. Learning to choose sacrifice and form an autonomous character that is part of a social fabric, but with an embodied soul more free from a survival-based motivation of duty.
So the task in front of me now is to find these desiring others my coach speaks of in the East. These other people who are connected with similar desires to grow. To go from trying to pull up my own weightlifting motivation by its bootstraps to admitting that I still need some more work there, that my character was not sufficiently formed by high school football weightlifting, or at least I didn’t maintain it well enough, to push myself. Hell, even Scharzeneggar’s buddies needed some coaching, so getting honest with myself there. The simplest thing of having another human, in another body, saying “keep going”, as I did recently, has to be worth an extra rep or two.
It’s good to know and remember that all human beings are going to feel that fear, feel that “I’ve got to get the fuck out of here, now” and that it’s part of our power, history, and sustenance as a species that we develop social ways of being that develop the human individual. These practices, ceremonies, and initiations require multiple people at multiple stages of life and with different abilities to contribute to the whole of developing each human organism within the larger organism closer to its fullest potential. Having gone to extremes of individualism out of the noble and partially correct idea that I need to heal myself from within, I continue that healing journey while venturing back out into group spaces hoping for a less grandiose, more grounded experience of group initiation and experience.
In the West (the body, courage, and camaraderie-oriented warriorship), that means letting go of fear and embracing the process whole-heartedly with the martial arts group I’ve begun working with. I understand now that while sure, it’s about the familiar struggles I have with propioception, pain threshold, and aggression, it’s more about trusting a group of men. Going from just a recognition that I need to trust and that I think this group is my best group to trust and that I’ve selected correctly to earnestly trusting and practicing this. Connecting with that energy inside of me that wants to go through the healthy life stage of wrestling with one’s father (something I think was cut short in my case just as it was for a lot of other millenial boys due to the cultural dynamics of the time). Connecting with the potential for aggression that’s so deeply repressed and turned inward to the self-anger of depression and self-doubt because that’s what I’m used to, is comfortable, and takes less effort. All that gets to come out if I trust people to help me get there. If I admit that I can’t will myself there on my own. It will take a lot of effort, sure, but it’s not effort that’s necessarily going to deliver me to the promised land and greatness. But it’s effort that will heal me and allow me to grow up a bit. That, like everything else in post-evangelical life for me, is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, a bit of a letdown, but that’s what meaning is life when we strip it of its misguided/misleading trappings. Also, it just sucks at age 32 to admit that I need people to, on a consistent basis, freely give of themselves when I have utterly nothing to give in return that’s of much substance for them. The language of modern psychotherapy would tell us that I’m being too hard on myself in stating something like that, but that’s bullshit, that’s the real truth of it. I can hope someday to, in turn, give of myself to others, but that’s only an idea and a potential right now, it’s not an actuality. That kind of grounded humility is less dramatic than the kind I’m used to which is more charged with shame and more volatile…but it feels truer to life in some way.
In the South (the inner child, clean expression of emotions, truth), this means similarly embracing the process and admitting what it means to benefit from the group in my involvement with MKP. Letting of this posturing that I’ve brought to it of needing to be a ‘leader’ in development, and just embracing what I’ve actually been doing, which is showing up and taking will, I think, paradoxically, help me take leadership over my own life and open the door to a way of being from which I can actually start to facilitate men’s work as I’d like to, with my own style and flair and perspective within a disicplined framework that’s part of the larger whole. It means taking the blows of exposing my inner child (the whole point of men’s work) to other men in my circle even when they are going to handle it imperfectly and re-trigger me at times and all kinds of shit that I’m afraid of. Once again, contra the things we need to say to each other (not just in MKP, but in adult life in general) to get each other to open up…there are consequences, I can and will be judged for being vulnerable, and that will suck. Big balls. But that’s the price of being vulnerable and the price of whatever emotional healing might call to us. But that’s Feeling the clean relief of speaking truth at work and living by professional principles, even when I know these are arbitrary and put me at a disadvantage in the theoretical information/manipulation game…but that’s a game I’m incapable of playing anyway because of my current developmental and likely biological limitations as a person.
In the East (pushing your edge, growing, creating, dancing), it means letting go of giving a fuck. My intention was to attend two drumming events, and those are both going to need to come next week. So I don’t know how exactly this will happen, but I somewhat obnoxiously still want to make that happen. And when there, I want to really enjoy the drumming, enjoy the dancing. I’ve been trying to kind of force my brain to let go in certain spaces and immerse myself…but now I’d like to find a space that will make that easier to do. I think I have an answer here with these drum circles with dance, so I’d like to join. And it means fully participating. To just go with it. Accept the bounds of the container, my reasons for going, the imperfection of fit, if that’s a thing, and then going for it.
In the North (planning for the future, developing ideas, mutuality), that means the methodical, slow, painstaking work of applying the same professional principles that worked for me at my previous employer to my current circumstances. I have this sense that I can do it, or at least I can put in an effort and a plan and standards that I can live with, deep down, but I have to do the work so to speak, each day. Of acknowledging other people as equals, of standing my ground as an adult, and of holding to my perspective as a professional instead of getting sucked into this weird space where I accept the company culture on the surface but reject it underneath – that’s not an energy that’s serving anyone, myself included. Opening back up to the shared humanity of friendship and the shared humanity of co-workership, even when there’s not a personality click. Understanding that there’s no workaround, the only way out is through relationships, and relationships of the hardest kind – the at-work kind. And that I’m not sophisticated enough to manipulate my way through this. I’m going to have to confront it, directly. To do this without shame, with courage, with grounding, and with dignity and self-respect, letting go of outcome as best I can.
In the Center (wisdom, maturing, perspective, balance) , it means returning again to meditating and to basic Reiki, the two practices that guided me to my new job and that I’d like to keep. But doing so from a standpoint of adult exploration, of power and possibility, instead of coping and dealing with life. To do this will require some faith in life, which is the next step here. Some faith that this process has been interesting and will continue to be. To start a journal on Dharma Overground and to make the process social.