Flummoxed by Elephants

February 27th, 2013 by Tim Categories: Introducing, Otters of the Universe - Tim's Blog 13 Responses

“What are you going to write about this week?” asked my friend Lindy. “Do you go into it knowing your topic, or do you just show up and see what’s there?”

I just go into my lab and see what’s there. And I did, yesterday, my regular blog day. And I actually started writing. But the piece I bit off was way more than I could chew, and trying again this morning to chew it further, I find myself no closer to clarity. I’m wanting to go back to that anger question, that impulse to “rant and rave,” and speak to the other impulses inside of me, beyond the righting of childhood wrongs. But it seems the muse has little interest in what I’m wanting these days. I cannot seem to force it, the clarity I think I want. I can’t make my thinking tidy and whole. I can’t get my words to line up on the page in the correct order. I can only slog through, it feels like, always on the path but never reaching the goal. And I can only chew as quickly as I can chew.

There’s too much. Too many things demanding my time and attention. So it’s hard for me, frightening even, and deeply challenging, to put myself into this uncontrollable, unknowable space of looking and seeing and feeling and writing and sharing. Some days in the lab I feel moments of joy and fascination. But some days I feel only confusion and haziness. I feel lost. Gray and disinterested. Flummoxed. And all I can think to do is flick off the lights and go back home.

None of that would be a problem, save for the fact that I’ve created an expectation. I have my own expectation, that I write every Tuesday. But that I can deal with. I’m actually pretty gentle with my own expectations. But as Lindy’s question makes clear, there’s an expectation “out there” as well. And when the expectation is “out there,” the whole game changes. Expectation brings the possibility of disappointment. And one of my most tender and uninsulated bits of wiring is about disappointing people.

At some point in my young life, it was made very clear to me that somebody important and powerful was unhappy, and that I was the cause. I could recall and recount people and incidents and events as “the cause,” but it’s difficult to really be sure that I’m seeing clearly. The window into my own past has always been pretty fogged and dirty, and the glass wavy and slumped, leaving me to cobble together my story with thick layers of guesswork for mortar. Perhaps none of that really matters. Whomever it was, or what it was that happened, I had disappointed someone greatly, or so I was told. Perhaps many times, with multiple people, over many years. And some part of me vowed never to do that again.

And those childhood moments were so soul-searing, and my resultant vow so powerful, that I can now, and still, spend life energy worrying about the fact that I didn’t blog on Tuesday like I said I would, and that now, even though I’m cranking something out, it’s not the “deep and meaningful” stuff my ego seems to think is somehow the most “real.” It can feel crazy making, and the only way to “dis-spell” it, I find, is to speak it out loud so that it cannot hide, trusting that, once in the open, whatever it is will crumble away in the light of consciousness. It’s like psychological cloud-busting, perhaps. It’s like lighting a fire to warm a cold room. It’s like naming the elephant in the room, with the room being my own body, heart, and mind, and the elephant being some story, belief, or assumption stomping around inside of me, tearing up the green grass of my best self and leaving footprints on my soul.

So today is not the day to write more about ranting and raging, or to sit further with the “mid-century extinction meme.” Today is a day to name elephants and flick off the lights and step out into the sun to honor the muse, rather than my ego. I can no longer live up to that childhood vow. No amount of present-day keeping of agreements and meeting of expectations will ever go back in time and heal those old “failures to be.” And there are too many big things out there in the here and now that call me to service, for me to waste my life energy clinging to such old and bankrupt strategies.

Begone, elephant. Out, fear of disappointing. Away with ye, childhood vow. Come, sun, and burn away the fog.

I’ll be back next time.


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