Following the wisdom of my ancestors, I walk the words to find the truth. Words are a path, the spaces between are the destination. To find a way between the words, you must walk the path and hear the deafening roar of silence.

"Who has not listened to hear the secret
stories of the land whisper from ruins or
forests, or the pages of ancient texts?"

Ari Berk~

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mirror, Mirror...Who am I?

It is infinitely heart-breaking to meet her glance
Who was it that said that "An unexamined life is not worth living."? Oh yes. Socrates. It's a phrase that has served as a lodestar for me my entire adult life, a philosophy that set me on a journey of self discovery that began when I was about twelve years old. Naturally at that age I had a fairly limited idea about what formed the concept of examining oneself. But I began the process of looking about to see how I felt about things in general. The sum total of my efforts at that point culminated with the knowledge that the entire smorgasbord of organized world religions had absolutely nothing to offer me whatsoever. I was astonished by the revelation. And so I was off, discovering this, that and the other thing that I didn't like, and as time went by I became increasingly vocal in my opinions, particularly about what I found wrong with the world around me. After all, wasn't I examining myself by evaluating the world in which I lived? I found that a healthy dose of self-righteousness mixed in with intelligent critical thinking was really the way the world should be viewed. And not just by me. But by one and all. And according to my principles.

I'm not sure when the slap in the face. came. It might have been in a drug-induced haze in my 20s, or possibly as a bolt of lightening that shot through me from a simple phrase in a book I was reading at the time (which is not at all an unlikely way for enlightenment to come to me). Whatever. I found myself suddenly struck by the absurdly painful notion that a self examined life meant that one actually examines oneself, looks under the hidden rocks, opens the closet doors, digs through the primal ooze of ego, shame, blame, and a lifetime full of false beliefs. So I responded to the whole idea in the only way that made sense to me. I began to drink. And kept on drinking for the next 20 years. Drugs fell by the wayside (too paranoid), cigarettes were life threatening (I accidentally set my sweater on fire when I was shit-faced one night). It was only after I stopped drinking (another story altogether) that I started reluctantly tried to put into practice the concept that had so horrified me years earlier. I had help. Lots of help. Good friends. Good therapists. Great lessons from the universe. Then, at some point I learned that this was an ongoing process, that I wouldn't wake up one morning and say "Right, got it, all examined, all fixed, let's go for tea". Depression set in. And stayed for a long, unwelcome visit like a bad house guest. 

After this had gone on for a bit I began to hear an annoyingly persistent voice, whose origin I couldn't quite identify, keep whispering in my ear, "Go for a walk in the woods." So I did. Then I went again. And again. Soon it became a regular and remembered cherished habit. I started to reconnect with nature. I had been a park ranger for nine years and had switched careers to be a graphic designer. I had spent less and less time outside. Big mistake. As I started listening to the voices of the natural world outside all around me I began to find my own inner voice, waiting patiently to be heard... And that it was worth actually listening to. I was hearing with my inner self - my spirit and my heart. When I discovered that all the voices were coming from the same source I was joyously mystified. Mystified. Steeped in Mystery. I love both of these states of being as one directly reflects the other. I love the world's mysteries, and I love the fact that my own inner mysteries are always, always somehow connected to the outer mystery presenting itself at the time. I learned a new word to describe this phenomena - synchronicity. A truly self examined life meant reflection. Inner meet Outer. As above, so below. Socrates....very cool, dude.

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