My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Comes the Inquisitor

Another day. And another. I want to understand what I'm so afraid of. I've many large goals, large projects I'm trying to undertake. However, all that happens is the occasional burst, the occasional day of creativity. Those are good days; but I always fear that they will be isolated events, and rightly so. Without practice, without set habits, these days are random and disconnected. The big things never get started.
I have to face the fact that these isolated 'bright' days are, basically, worthless and wasted. One day alone means nothing. It becomes clear that my heart is not in the right place. My desires and sense of purpose are not clear to me. If they were, I could not help but do all the things I so desire: read, write, practice the piano, meditate, and so on. In reality, I have to push myself to make even the smallest effort to emerge from my daily routine of Babylon 5 re-runs, computer games, and general lethargy. It is not my heart that drives me to create, but the feeling that I should, because that's the sort of person I want to be. Why? And if I truly want to be this sort of person, truly want to do these things, why am I so unmotivated to pursue them?
I live with so many distractions and deceptions. That once my life 'settles down,' then I'll be able to get on with things. That I'm stretched too thin with taking care of those around me. That I am tired and need to rest. But there will always be someone who is falling apart, stricken with grief, or losing their sanity. Or I will be. And there will never come a time when everything simply settles into place and I am suddenly transformed, without effort, into a creative machine.
It has to do with fear.
I'm afraid of many things. Chief among them is the fear of questioning myself, my heart, my motives; also fear of leaving the comfort of complacency. I've gotten by all my life without inquiring much into my nature, without truly looking at the whys and hows. Instead, I set up an ideal self, projected to the outside world: admirable, kind and good, but primarily on the surface. I wished people to love me and want to keep me around. It's led to a rather strong feeling of disconnection from myself, and a willingness to carry on in quiet misery and acceptable apathy until that self that's within me, wherever it is, gets so nauseous and disgusted that its scream is all I can hear. Then I am again reminded: this is not the way. Why do you do it this way?
And again I have no answer, and am silent.
For what might seem to be a right action, if done for the wrong reasons, is really the wrong action. If the heart behind it is not pure, the deed is corrupt. It's become painfully clear recently how little I truly resemble the man I present myself as and wish to believe I am. I present myself as open-minded, tolerant, and kind; but almost daily I find myself full of anger and judgment. I feel I am cultured and intelligent and refined, but in my heart I know I am driven by a desire to feel superior to others, and to condemn them. That my desire to give gifts to those close to me is motivated as much by the need for manipulation and control as by generosity and love.
It's a problem.
A friend recently told me a very true thing: that the kindness and compassion we extend to others when they err (as humans do), we must also extend to ourselves. It is much harder to do this than it is to forgive others. But we must do so.
I do not think I'm an evil man. I know that in my heart I am selfish, childish, and manipulative; but they are what they are and there is more to me than that. However, I'm unable to deceive myself any longer about my 'noble nature.' The heart is empty, the show has been everything. I know it; now I must deal with it.
I will assume the role of the inquisitor. Demands the whys of myself. The real reasons must be grasped. Part of me worries that such extreme self-analysis as I have in mind will be detrimental... but it's necessary. Without examining myself, I'll continue to drift along, never sure if the things I am, and do, and desire, are pure. Are true. It must be extreme: without demanding that I account for myself, I would too easily slip back into my old bad habits. It wouldn't really be living anyway.
Which brings me back to the disciplines. The big projects. I feel, or hope, that when I've come to understand my drives a little better, the rest of it might fall into place a little more easily, for better or for worse. I know there's no simple cure. Understanding is just a foundation; hard work will also be required. I'm not afraid to work for it. I've never been lazy, but if there was no meaning in the things I did, I could scarcely lift a finger.
Perhaps this is an attempt to redefine the meaning in my life. Perhaps once it is done all that has seemed so overwhelming might be brought into a manageable perspective. I've already taken a few steps. The nonelectronic day of rest (for lack of a better name) ritual has begun, and already I am healed slightly. There are many things I can do to help myself. Remember the lesson of NaNoWriMo: that the largest, craziest projects can be accomplished if we take them one piece at a time.
Remember to dance:

And remember to laugh at yourself. From laughter, there is wisdom.

The inquisitor comes.

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