Monday, June 6, 2011

Into the Darkness

I’ve engaged in a one-year journey to figure out my life and live it completely. It started with leaving a corporate world for a literary one and my one year journey of self-exploration has exposed a few things… a few proverbial chinks in the armor of my dream quest.

When all the girls in high school were getting blonde highlights and anxiously dousing their hair with lemon juice for lighter tresses, I was dying mine black. I’ve always preferred winter to summer, appreciating the biting cold and the gray skies to the sun drenched summer days. I’ve always had an affinity for thunderstorms and deep dark nights, taking long night runs under street lamps and moonlight. Even as a child I was never afraid of the dark, acknowledging that anything lurking in the shadows would never be able to find me choosing instead to count stars outside my window.



As a teenager I struggled with depression but never saw it as a weakness, rather an opportunity to explore things that people rarely talked about openly. Sadness, fear, suffering, death, anxiety, and pain. I felt very heavy and burdened by what I felt and how contrary it seemed to flow from the people in my life but as an adult, the depth of that experience actually makes me a far more joyful, appreciative, light-hearted person. My appreciation for people, relationships, love, affection, kindness, generosity have all been enriched by my brushes with the dark side of what life has to offer.

I have always taken refuge in physical pain – an attachment and comfort that is personal and often misunderstood, I like the stripped down raw connection a person can have with pain and the simplicity of the choice in just moving above and past it. There is something so liberating about surviving, about enduring, about overcoming the physical. Mastering one’s self and enduring physical pain has meaning.

“Pain, I came to feel, might well prove to be the sole proof of the persistence of consciousness within the flesh, the sole physical expression of consciousness. As my body acquired muscle, and in turn strength, there was gradually porn within me the tendency toward positive acceptance of pain, and my interest in physical suffering deepened.” – Yukio Mishima

A friend tossed a blog link my way this morning and just reaffirmed how reminders show up at just the right time for me. Never fails. It was called simply The Courage To Suffer by Robert Grunau. It was a step back into some new unknowns in my life. A step back into the darkness. Here is what I concluded upon reflection.

Following a dream is a bumpy road and can easily become a new normal of an old routine.
“I got off track. It’s easy to forget…no, its easy to convince yourself that you’re still following that ideal. That you’re actually using your pursuit to improve yourself, when you’re really just using it to keep yourself where you are really at.” –Robert Grunau

I don’t ever choose “easy” but I don’t always choose “right.”
“I was being a coward — I was actively engaged in the process of holding myself back.” – Robert Grunau

Not knowing “stuff” is a blessing and a curse. Big questions don’t have answers and I go back and forth with how I feel about that.
“I want to reach out from that momentary transcendence that comes laying yourself on the line. I’m all too conscious of when I’m not doing that.” – Robert Grunau


I ask myself “What the fuck am I doing?” at least eight times a day.
“I’ve rarely shied away from starting the work, though I’ve often turned my back when the work is at its hardest.” – Robert Grunau



Being the person I’m meant to be is going to hurt sometimes.
“A therapist told me that about two percent of the people who come in for therapy are actually broken. The rest of them are experiencing the pain of growing into different people. That pain causes them to think that something is wrong with them. In the face of that pain they pull away. They stop doing the work that is required to get them through to the next level. It takes real courage.” – Robert Grunau


That pain, that emotional pain I’m learning to better manage with the capacity and strength it’s taught me on a physical level. I’m on this path to somewhere and getting there is beautiful, disappointing, rewarding, and overwhelming. I’m terrified of it all. That tells me that it must be right.

I’m being reminded of the pleasure that comes with boldly stepping back into the darkness and finding peace there even as the familiar outlines of my life disappear. I’ve recommitted myself to not retreating when the work required to get above and past the unknown seems to exceed my capacity. I’ll just be counting stars all the while…