|Cover of book by Jonathan Mary-Todd|
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Friday, 12 July 2013
Knowing oneself enough to shoot down paranoia
It is not easy to enter into a new culture. No matter how many times one has done it before. One knows only too well the rings of fire to jump through, but they are all slightly different. Last time they were jumped clear, and this time? I am comfortable almost in being uncomfortable, entering into new groups of people, into new relationships; but it does not stop me being afraid.
Boulder is a great place. I love it. But it does not reduce the fear, nor the psychological mind fucks. If anything it increases them. There is a great community of people here, who are pushing through their boundaries, in that paradoxical way, to find their own centers.
Everything is so different in this bubble within the US. There are unspoken bike rules, the way one talks in a group (here all must be in the first person to only vouch for one’s own personal experience, whereas in other places it would seem somewhat ego-centric). Here people are expected to be ‘cool’ and accept as perfectly common place such practices that in other cultures would be simply and utterly taboo: naked bar-b-cues, omm meditation where the man who could be a stranger gently rubs the woman’s clitoris for 15 minutes as she meditates the experience, and poetry readings left, right and center.
It is a place where I realise I have been unconsciously heading toward for a long time, little facts suddenly start to make sense, like standing up in a hairless urban society for underarm hair. Learning to dance free in a safe environment on a Greek island suddenly transforms into a useful, if not necessary, tool here. Miles of cycling are remembered in my aching calves. And thank god I can do energy talk.
It is a place where I would like to stay. Suddenly I wonder: Can I? Will I be accepted? Am good enough? Will I be allowed back?
So the defense mechanisms come out to further confuse the day. Extroversion goes into turbo mode. “Scotty, Scotty turn on the extraversion defense shield!” “Aye aye Captain!” and then I am left, after jabbering on in a group of new people, alone, wondering if they had understood what I was saying, how they saw me and if this time I have made an absolute and utter dick of myself.
I was in one of those moments yesterday.
There is a trend here for ‘Threshold Choirs’ which are little groups of people who go to hospices to sing to those on the threshold of living, entering into the other world. Singing eases their way into conscious dying. Given our singing we will definitely help them to go faster. There will be a mini presentation which could also be called a concert next week in a synagogue, in front of doctors. In the rehearsal our leader as much as she was trying to stay calm, was nervous, and it showed. Memories of past last minute rehearsals sprang to mind. I felt her emotions in me, twisting through my stomach.
I didn’t know that I was on the edge of ovulation and unconsciously opening up to the world - to all of it, not just the nice cherries on the cake, but to the roots of fear.
After the rehearsal, sat on a sofa, one of the singers wondered why she was so tired when normally, after singing, she felt invigorated. I mentioned stage nerves. She denied them. I mentioned concerts where beforehand I had thought it would be completely embarrassing, only for it to turn out reasonably well and that ... She got up, nodding and saying ‘Yes, yes’ and left mid-sentence.
I felt like a right dick.
Rejected, mid-sentence. She didn’t say goodbye.
Ovulating, I wondered if I was really so rejectable. Should I have been so truthful?
But then, a thought broke through the clouds of my mind. I had had it a week before, entering into other groups. I had had it once before then as well, telling my new love that he was the only one responsible for his relationship with me, that it had nothing to do with me, and that I was the only one responsible for my relationship with him. They are mutually exclusive. It is something that I have learnt to believe now for years. It started after seeing how Melanie in ‘Gone with the Wind’ maintains her faith and trust in Ashley, to the point of apparent absurdity in the face of reality. However it was this faith and trust that kept Ashley faithful and trustworthy against the onslaught of Scarlet. Melanie keeps her relationship safe in her vulnerable innocence, staying as a lighthouse for him in the middle of wild torments.
We are only responsible for our relationship with the world. We are not responsible for the world’s relationship with us.
And there I had it. This simple, but powerful feeling of keeping my energy, my own perspective, grounded in my center. I kept faith and trust in my own viewpoint, instead of hysterically running out of my own safety zone trying to work out what others thought of me.
I sat there, post stun, regained posture and realised, ‘I like her. She is fine’. I like that scenario, I feel comfortable liking her, even if she is tired and possibly negating nerves. I want to have good relationships with people from my point of view.
And that is all that I needed to know, because I believe that having spent 38 years with myself I have a better picture of who I am than she does after having known me for a single rehearsal. Paranoia shot down square on.
I sat there knowing what I had said was from a good heart. Perhaps she had misinterpreted me. But that is her responsibility.