Thursday, July 31, 2014
Oh I Don't
I don't know
I don't know
I don't know a goddamned thing
- Nathaniel Rateliff, Still Trying
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It strikes me that I don't know a goddamned thing. I have a host of reactions and suppositions, knee-jerk responses and postures to draw upon: the detritus of navigating my days and playing roles. And for much of the time this sort of shorthand for thinking passes muster because we each do it and no one really wants the jig to be up.
But, damn, it is time for spades to be called spades and the man behind the curtain to come out and fess up.
If not, then this wound is gonna cancel us out.
* * *
We are never trapped by our circumstances, but by our responses to them. This is true. This is true. This is true. But when was the last time you took a breath and looked at those responses? When was the last time you re-considered anything? We fall into patterns of unknowing, of rote responses (a phone call from your ex makes you instantly angry, work places fresh responsibilities on you and you instantly compare yourself to others who don't have that new pressure, a bill collector calls and you flush with shame) and never really figure out why it is so. We are justified, in our minds, for how we react. After all, your ex cheated on you, your cubicle mate earns more and does less, and the fucking bills are a constant reminder of just how far you fall short. Right?
I know. I know. I've walked that road. It blows.
But, really, my love, when was the last time you stopped yourself from those automatic responses and took the heat out of it? The shorthand responses we've developed for negotiating our way through the bullshit and tumult of living are incredibly effective defense mechanisms. They help. In the short term. In the short term only. But, listen, you are not a short term project. It's going to take a goddamned lifetime for you to finish your work. So, ease off that pedal and start thinking past those responses and see what you come up with.
* * *
The first step, as near as I can tell, is to admit you don't know a goddamned thing.
If you're fucked, if your life is fucked, if you are wandering in circles, then, baby, you don't know a godddamn thing. You have let your fears and wounds dictate your life and all you know is fear and hurt. That ain't shit. That is the bottom of our experience, lizard brain shit. You are more then that. Wildly more and the automatic response, by definition, is thoughtless. What the fuck use is a frontal lobe if you don't use it?
Breathe. Think. Know. Yourself.
It ain't easy and it is as easy as pie. The risk you must run is letting what is thoughtless drop from your shoulders and have the grit and grace to embrace what you find waiting for you. It may be a palsied thing, it may be weak, wan, sallow, it may be bloated, unwell, but there begins your healing, there begins your knowledge and from there begins your unfucked life.
* * *
And to do this, there is one absolutely essential element that must come into play. Without it you'll cycle back out into the wasteland of unthinking responses to the challenges of living the life you have. You have to forgive yourself for not knowing sooner. Gnashing your teeth, feeling embarrassed for not getting here sooner is just another ego trick, a protective response keeping you trapped. It happens because, in that moment, when you are face to face with the frailty and magnificence of your life, of all life, you wish to unknow your mistakes, to unknow your soon enough death, to unknow the days that have slipped through your hands. Ignorance seems so much nicer. And it may be for some, but not you. You want to know. You want to move in the world free, unfettered, your losses no longer defining you. You want your life to take hold. How do I know this? Because you are reading this.
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