Something Else Entirely
This week started as one of the worst few days I have had since I started this process, but it’s shaping up to be something else entirely. I had some pretty bad moments, and some so so moments, but now as I sit at the end of this week, I feel differently about things.
The lowest point was Monday night after a difficult time helping my daughter with her homework. I had been so frustrated with her because she wouldn’t concentrate and she kept getting up and leaving the table. I had lost my temper with her several times, and afterward without a word she left the room returning shortly with a picture she had drawn of me. It was a rather well executed depiction of me with sharp teeth and mean eyes. Looking straight at me with condemnation in her eyes, she said, “This is you. You’re a monster.” It cut me to the quick, and I had no argument. I could only apologize and promise to be better.
My highest point was today when I met my friend to run errands at the city office. We both had baby business to take care of, and because she is fluent in Japanese she offered to help me communicate with the bureaucrats. We met for lunch, and I found myself telling her about my problems. She listened with a sympathetic ear and had sound advice for me. It felt so good to share my story with her, and afterwards she shared her story with me. It reminded me again that I am not alone, that there are people who love and care about me, and things are never as bad as I think they are.
So my lowest point taught me that I need to find a better way to express my frustrations with my daughter, and my highest point taught me that asking for help and being vulnerable can be a good thing if you do so with a friend. They were two great lessons that taught me something else as well.
I went from having one of the worst weeks to a pretty good week in the space of two days. It made me aware of the fact that nothing is really lasting, and it prompted me to think about the whole concept of the Self and my nature. I realized that I am not my emotions or behaviors, nor am I my beliefs and my thoughts. I’d like to think that I am an emergent phenomenon that is constantly changing depending on the environment in which I find myself or the people with whom I interact. I am learning to let go of the idea of a Self. I do not think there is any permanence in my nature. This is both liberating and unsettling at the same time.
Since I began this process, I have been spending quite a bit of time examining my motivations, my needs, and my desires. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating my Self. I have only scratched the surface, but I feel that the idea of the Self, a permanent unchanging entity that occupies my mind like some sort of homunculus might be an illusion. I have no idea who I am, but it isn’t who I thought I was, and for the time being that is an interesting concept to explore.
It has allowed me to let go of the heartbreaking words my daughter uttered three nights ago, and it has assured me that though at the time I behaved in such a way that warranted my daughter’s drawing and assertion, but that the picture that resulted in that behavior was not a reflection of who I am. It has also brought me to the conclusion that person I was with my friend and the pleasant feelings I experience as a result of our encounter are also not a reflection of who I am. Therefore, when I have thoughts of disapproval or even approval they do not really apply to my nature; for my nature or Self is fluid and constantly changing. So then it becomes less feasible to love or hate my Self. It also leads me to the question of who is doing the loving or hating.
This is a very interesting turn of events. This is a new way of looking at my Self and I am not quite sure where to go from here. I am curious to know where this realization will take me. I feel like I am undergoing a radical change in my perspective, and I am in the transition of that change; yet I have no idea what is changing. I am in between. I am in the midst of letting go of illusions I have held for most of my life, and it feels unfamiliar. I like it. I haven’t felt out of my element in quite this way in long time, and I may never have felt this way before.
This is the tearing away of the beliefs and conventions I have acquired from a lifetime of socialization by my parents, my family, the church in which I was raised, my teachers, my education, my peers, and my mentors. I feel like I am close to something significant, yet I sense that this thing will only reveal its insignificance, and the impermanence of everything. It is a sense of wonder and at the same time it is a sense of clarity and settling in. I really don’t have the words to describe it, so I will leave it at that.