Tuesday, April 25, 2006

From Philosophy to Frenzy

I was not of particular privilege as a child. Well enough - cleaned, clothed, fed, taught. Comfortable but no thought to luxury or excess. This, I'm sure, had a very positive effect on my development, responsibility, and ambition. Well, maybe the ambition. It's served me well in many respects, but it has also created a measure of drive which has been self destructive.

I can trace the origins, with some chagrin, to envy. As the not-overly-privileged youth, I encountered many who were. Acquaintances which had an abundance of the latest toys and technologies, every opportunity (as I saw it) to do and enjoy more. These were the same that were typically unhappy and bored with the same, which frustrated me to no end: how, with these resources at their disposal, could these other children be dissatisfied?

I set forth then that, were I to be blessed similarly, that I would make the most of it. Eventually I began to see this as a responsibility: if I found myself possessed of any opportunity then I owed it to others who would kill for the chance (and didn't get it) to make the most of it myself so as not to fall into hypocrisy.

The philosophy has taken me pretty far, and I've gained some fun skills and experience along the way, and also been able to add an altruistic bent to it - both literally and figuratively leaving the campground cleaner than when I found it, as it were.

Monday night's meditation touched on some of the negative aspects though - an almost frenzied push to perform, a scramble up a sliding slope of too much to do and too many things to care about but an unrelenting urge (and fear of failure) unsatisfied with anything other than progress. I've encountered this before in various flavors, and had to make adjustments to my expectations regarding my own performance. This most recent episode put it an interesting way, a visual dream-like analogy.

This thought, that I must care so much about everything and never let slip an instant, has created an environment in which there are too many Priority 1's. Too many issues which must be attended to, cannot be let go, and due to the subdivision of attention and energy will also never be resolved. I would think this lends well to visions of drowning, or running escape from some relentless pursuit.

In may case, it came as a belt. I thick leather belt, probably 2" wide with sturdy brass hardware. Extending up from the belt was a brass and leather breast-plate in an inverted "V" - rising to a point about mid-sternum. The plate was bowed outward somewhat in order to allow it to carry a payload on its interior and keep it pressed tightly against my abdomen and torso. It carried several live coals, all orange-white hot and each representing one of the continual cares that could not fail. I saw myself as a figure, clutching the breastplate tighter to myself and hunching over on knees as additional embers fell around me (though sparsely) on a dark landscape.

Occasionally the figure (me) would allow the breastplate to fall open and stare despairingly into the interior, feeling overwhelmed and incapable before hugging it back flush to feel the uncomfortable heat.

The heat did not burn, though it was hot. It primarily fed the urgency and need for a sense of movement and action, like stoking a fire under a steam engine. Combined with the depression it created a sick feeling of Rock vs. Hard Place - a need to move, and the inability to do so. Move, in this sense, meaning to make progress on attending to the coals.

The vision was malleable, allowing me to manipulate the same setting with narration and "what-if" and rewrite or change my perceptions, habits and subconscious behaviors - the whole point of hypnosis, self administered or otherwise. I was made uncomfortable at the thought of attempting to extinguish or douse the fire to any degree: they exist legitimately for their own purposes regardless of my attachment to them. The answer then was to change the nature of my relationship with them instead.

I removed the breastplate and belt and left it unceremoniously in a small clear pool of water - with a concession to the rules of this universe that the coals remained burning bright, undimmed. A small side of water has often been used in my mind's landscape as a place to put things to discard them with a healing intent - removed, neutralized, and soon to be forgotten, but at the same time inhabiting a place of life. It's a deeply layered theme beyond this entry to explore, so I'll move on.

I then introduced the concept of the craftsman: a busy and wiry figure completed by accessories and tools including a jeweler's eyepiece and a number of small, hard, sharp-tipped implements. The figure sat at his bench, intent on a single coal grasped expertly between thumb and index fingers on the left hand. The right hand worked deftly to etch intricacies into the surface before holding it up complete, burning brighter (the self illumination obscuring the detail, since no shadow or light difference existed to define it). An unseen wind then whipped it from his fingers off into some existing stream of movement before he turned back to work on the next one.

This serialization of the effort led to a greater attention to detail, an intensity in concentration, and actual movement: albeit of restricted overall throughput in that only one was being attended to or would ever be attended to at a single time. Net gain though, since it actually moved now.

My answer from this is to make my focus singular, and though working earnestly to have a realistic expectation of what I as one man can reasonably accomplish. Does admitting my limitation and setting my bounds absolve me of the requirement to continually push and do? Surprisingly, yes, to a degree. I'm certain there are other areas of my mind and behaviors or even beliefs that will still need to be rewired and may cause me some grief and recidivism as old worn paths of the mind are walked by habit.

It's a step though, and one I'm pleased with in my course of personal growth and improvement; however inapplicable to the reader.

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