Sunday, May 27, 2012

Letting others be - letting yourself be

Yesterday I went into my backyard and picked blackberries, and there was a wasp who was eating (or is it drinking?) too ... I took the ripe ones, while it seemed to like the really overripe ones better.

I'm not intrinsically afraid of insects like a lot of women seem to be, so I don't instinctively bat at one flying by unless it gets in my face. This wasp wasn't even making noise. So I let it do its thing.

While I was picking the last good berries, it occurred to me that we were doing much as DQ mentioned animals do all the time. Animals coexist unless one has something the other needs (like their body for food). He even calls it the law of nature. It's why I could go out picking blackberries with a wasp flying around and not get stung.

I let it be, and it let me be.


I ran across this article just now:

Nature & Abstraction

The author describes making friends with a man who likes to hunt and fish, and one day they went out fishing together. Then he said something which startled her:
... you can’t go out hunting with thoughts in your head that you’re gonna kill, kill, kill. The animals know. You just have to be chill and kinda melt into the woods. If a bird lands on you without realizing you’re there, when squirrels run up the tree without noticing you  — that’s when you know you’re doing it right. 
 This man has stumbled upon the law of nature.

It's funny the way he describes it, because while I was picking blackberries, before the wasp showed up, that's how my mind was -- still, quiet, just focusing on the berries and the colander I held them in. I wasn't seeing myself as separate or in danger or worrying about things or anything like that.

I suppose the wasp felt the quiet in me, because I picked blackberries right alongside it, within inches of it, and it didn't even shy away. It was amazing to watch.

It felt surreal, magical, yet it was completely real.


This same article goes on to talk about the abstract:
We know that civilization doesn’t work because it is too far abstracted from nature. But I think we look at our impending reacquaintance with nature as a further abstraction from civilization. It’s something to ponder academically and make up terms like “geologian” and “Gaia hypothesis” so we can seem impressive to each other. The efforts of permaculturists, Transition Towns, low-tech aficionados and the like are simply carrying forward the mythology of progress ...
Separating ourselves psychologically and emotionally from the reality of nature is what got us where we are today. Separating ourselves psychologically and emotionally from this reality of civilization won't bring us back to the garden -- it will only create a new "low tech" group of Takers who have the One True Way (and to hell with everyone else). 

You can see it already in the hierarchy, the dogma, the structure, the "my way or the highway" mentality in many of these groups -- all based off fear instead of the quiet heart of nature.

Many of these people don't seem to be able to let others just be, which is why I haven't gotten much involved with any of it -- I just lurk around the edges and learn what I can.

So what's the answer?
If there is a “correct” way to critique civilization, it is not with concepts. It is by throwing oneself down in the dirt and sobbing one’s eyes out. It is in feeling the terror and pain from which civilization supposedly protects us. It is gazing into the abyss and allowing it to gaze into us, knowing that the abyss is a spiritual artifact of civilization. Like so much else that seems the natural order of things, this particular abyss isn’t real, does not exist.
I really believe that the key to extricating is learning to feel. It is less about doing this or that with one’s money, living in this or that certain way. The squirrels and the birds and the bucks and the fish all carry on their lives by feeling — they do not suffer the burden of abstractions, they live whatever they happen to feel, right now. And the trick to getting by in civilization is to not feel what one feels at any given moment. In fact, this is the very nature of control itself.
Learning to feel might be the most difficult part of the extrication process. Intellectual honesty will only get you so far… there comes a point when all the head-smacking holy-shit moments lead up to a complex, unpleasant emotional reaction. Processing and making peace with these feelings, and sharing our own experiences so that others who come behind us might have a trail to follow, is, I would argue, more important than stockpiling rainwater or raising backyard chickens. Western civilization has at its very root a deep psychic wounding, and if we are ever to move on, we have to do the psychic healing work sooner rather than later. As far as I can tell, this is the only path from abstraction — that is, the not-real — back into reality — that is, the real. (bold emphasis mine)
As Morpheus said, welcome to the world of the real.

Wow, The Matrix. If you've never seen that movie you should. Talking about the insights in that movie is a whole other post, but it goes deeply into the nature of what's real and what isn't and what if you couldn't tell the difference?

I think this woman gets it. Dealing with deep psychic wounding is something I've been doing for years now (coming from a completely different angle), and yet I feel as if I've just touched the surface. Most people haven't even begun.

What she's talking about is letting yourself be -- letting yourself be who you are, feel what you really feel, find and explore the inner places you were tortured or shamed into bricking over.

It occurs to me that one reason (possibly the only reason) people can't let others be who they are is that doing that would shine a spotlight on the fact that they aren't being who they are, that they're wasting their lives and everything they could be for nothing but a hope of fitting in, and that's too terrifying for them to handle.