Thoughts

Acceptance (Or Something Like It)

Having recently read Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score, I’d decided soon after finishing the book to try one of the recommended readings.  I chose Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Coming To Our Senses, mainly because van der Kolk discussed some of the collaborations the two of them used in studies.  I haven’t put it up on my Goodreads, partially because the book has a weird dual thread of (Kabat-Zinn’s) self-promotion & actual insightful commentary on human perception that bothers me.

But there is one concept that I’ve been stuck on for the past few weeks that I keep playing with mentally.  Kabat-Zinn mentions the Kanizsa triangle, an illusion where three circles suggest a triangle at their center due to their shape.  He presents a scenario where a Zen teacher shows this figure to a student & says something like, “If you say there is a triangle in the center, I will tell you that you’re wrong.  If you say there isn’t a triangle in the center, I will tell you that you’re wrong.”

My initial reaction was a fear where there is no right answer, meaning (for my people-pleasing self) that I cannot make the other person happy or content or solve the problem they present me, meaning a frightening (but purely hypothetical) situation where I can’t solve their problem or get away from their scrutiny.  The idea that ambiguity resides outside of my attempts to understand or create order was terrifying.  Ambiguity means unassessed threats means I might get hurt means run away run away run away NOW.

(And if I wasn’t trying to be honest & make a point here, I’d link to Courtney Love’s “Mono” where she screams those last few words.)

All of that was my traumatized brain.  And now that I’m healing, I’m facing this idea of ambiguity, where things do & do not exist at the same time, & thinking that I might be able to learn to be ok with it.  At least, that’s the skill I want to have moving toward.  I’ve left behind the over-used survival instinct & the chronic exhaustion it causes.  I’m struggling now with the remaining traces on my reasoning, where categorizing past experiences as either all good or all bad seems like an easy solution.

But that’s not what I want.  I want to accept myself & my place in the world & grow stronger from that purposeful knowledge, not from the reactions to the ghosts of the past & the wolves at the door.

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Thoughts

Message In a Bottle: Nov. 21, 2016

Dear Reader,

It’s been nearly a month since my last post so I’m sitting here now, trying to figure out what to say.  There have been a variety of reasons for not writing: the emotional American election, scrambling to finish up my Dante reading, my seasonal struggle to motivate myself, reading reading reading as a way to escape & also to find answers.  I’m trying to break the habit of sleeping in but setting my alarm early to get up & write.  I end up turning it off when it rings & crawling back into bed, trying to fall back asleep to the argument, ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow–I’ll be better tomorrow.’  And so giving myself a pass to not write at all today.  But, the page & the muse are always waiting, no matter how much I put it off, so here we are.

I’ve probably written before about how books are my shield & my barrier.  And in these last few weeks, I’d thought about just posting reading lists just as a way to communicate ‘here I am, this is my survival kit.’  But people don’t read books the same way that one does–not in a better or worse way necessarily, just different.  So the books I choose to pull close for comfort will not mean the same thing to you, as much as I’d like them too.  And with the high emotions running through my immediate family & community, I wonder if recommending something will even offend someone.  And that’s a hard thing to consider, for someone who works in a library.  It’s a hard thing to consider even as someone who’s read books that warn of the fading relevancy of text & writing.

Ok, maybe not follow that thought down it’s difficult track–at least not for the moment.  If this was a true message in a bottle, I would write you a story, something fantastical to come across & savor for the rest of the day so why don’t I try that.

I wake up dizzy in the mornings–sort of the reverse of that feeling you have sometimes when you’re falling asleep, like you’re falling off your bed but when you jerk yourself awake you’re flat on your back.  I’m bewildered in the morning, floating on the sunlight & the flannel sheets, trying to figure out where I am.  He is still asleep next to me, the details of his face sharp in the sun pooling on the pillow–fine eyelashes against his cheekbone, the faint freckles at his temple, the pulse in his jaw.  Risking upending myself completely, I roll onto my stomach to look out the window past the cat’s impatient tail as it keeps watch underneath the curtain.  Where I should see the house next door, all I see are trees & a bright horizon.  Our room sails over the tree tops, swaying gently & confidently to avoid larger limbs, toward a young, custard yellow sunrise.  Before there is time to panic, time to worry how this happened & how we can escape, all I can think is, “Well, at least that explains the dizziness.”