08 December 2010

Where You Stumble

I'm good at pushing - really, really good at it. What do I mean by pushing - attempting to MAKE something happen, to change how things are, to FORCE, direct or otherwise manipulate to get what I want, or what I think I want.

What I'm best at pushing is myself. Lots of practice. Lots of opportunity. The curse of perfectionism, probably a lot of other isms as well

I've given up pushing myself to stop pushing - accepted that there's a Gatekeeper (who will identify itself only as The Critical One) of long residence who will probably always - automatically - give the first shove just about the time I start feeling comfortable with how things are - with how I see myself and my life. I've figured that fighting this G. - trying to get rid of it - is REALLY a waste of energy - sort of like the pushing.

But I've also figured out how to catch the pushing before it gets me deep in the poo that I used to live in all the time. And somehow it seems as if the Gatekeeper doesn't fight back so hard at being caught as it does if I try to stop its energy in the first place. Makes sense really - at least to me. Kind of like a little kid who will throw the tantrum of the year at being told "no" but who will behave more civilly if just given some time or space to do what they want for a while.

What brought all of this up is the understanding I came to only yesterday that I'd been pushing myself to submit poems and other pieces for any number of wrong reasons.

I'd been noticing for a while that I really seemed to have little to say, in writing, to 'the world' - example #1 being that I just couldn't think of things I wanted to blog about. Oh sure, something would show up in my day that I'd connect to and write about - but I didn't feel any juice for getting it in shape to share.

Then there were my dreams. Night after night I'd show up in a scenario where my words and actions took me to the front of a group, into a leadership position with everyone expecting me to produce, to get results - but without the tools necessary to the job and, most notably, by acting as an automaton. Then, when things fell apart, predictably, everyone and everything that was important TO ME about what I was doing was derided and scorned.

Clearly my energy for what I wanted and needed was being subverted into the "shoulds" I was following instead.

Even my Morning Pages - Julia Cameron's term for the journalling we need to do whether we are doing our 'real' writing or not - were telling me what I wanted to be writing, and to whom. There I noticed that each day's pages read like letters to some aspect of myself - even to the Critical One Gatekeeper - asking questions so common to letters.

I'd been submitting pieces to 'others' - to journals and contests - when I needed to be writing to, and for, myself. And I'd been doing it because of the 'shoulds' and because pushing myself to accomplish, to justify the time I spent writing, to 'act like' a 'real' writer (whatever that means) is what the Gatekeeper does so that I won't spend the time and energy going down into the abyss of myself. The G. will do anything to keep me out of there.

Yes, I only saw most of this yesterday. But then, nearly immediately, and inexplicably, as usually happens, I got some assistance from an unexpected source which helped the lesson deepen. In the daily quotes that show up in my e-mail I found the following - and it all fell together.

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

- Joseph Campbell

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