Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on May 15, 2014

Something that I find incredible, as in "hard to believe," is how change can sweep into my life, turn my apple cart upside down, and shatter my self-image into a million pieces. And often it takes me a long time to even realize this is happening!

And when I finally do, like one of those old re-animator movies where the monster heals himself, my tired-old self madly moves heaven and earth trying to pull itself back together again so that it does not feel so naked. I call this my "Humpty-Dumpty Self," but in this case, Humpty-Dumpty does manage to put himself back together again... and usually as fast as possible.

Those times during which the self is shattered and I am kind of wide open, naked, and twisting in the wind, tend to be brief in the greater scheme of things. And it pays to relax when this happens. I make an attempt to look around a bit because those open windows in time soon close and I am soon back to business-as-usual once again, lost in my daily distractions. These are called gaps.

In those times of change, those gaps when the self becomes shattered or transparent (I can see through it), I tend to be disoriented, off track from my usual bent, and literally just upset. When a loved one dies, it is like this. Those times when we have lost our normal compass, however upsetting, are actually (at least for me) refresher courses in how to be alive, how to live, so they should be treasured, not feared. This is what I try to tell myself, but there is no one listening, because my usual self is exactly what has been shattered and gone missing.

During these time-outs, when I have fallen off my normal groove (or rut) and am once again a free agent for a day or part of a day, even a week, or, as has happened recently, many months. I no longer care about what I usually care about, and find myself losing interest in avenues I have been fiercely traveling up to that point. I am suddenly alone and, as the bard said, "with no direction known." And we all go through these times. I am at a loss, but of what?

If I look carefully, it is not so much that anything is lost (at least not permanently), as it is that I have momentarily let go of my death-grip on what 'I' think is reality and am forced to do a little free fall, like it or not. I love this quote of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

"The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground."

Those times when our self-image gets shattered (and we all have them) are like that, a free fall, but one we not only recover from, but we come back refreshed and better able to manage life than before 'IF' we will relax and just let it happen. After all, it is happening.

Of course if I struggle against change, as my first dharma teacher taught me, I am like the Cling Peach, where the pit tears off flesh as it is removed. With the Freestone Peach, the pit just naturally pops out. I thought about that one for years. I have always liked the Freestone variety myself.

The moral of this little story is that we do recover; the self re-animates and does come back, warts and all. We all-too-soon become our old (or slightly modified) self again. And although for most of us this out-of-the-body experience is a terrifying (and usually relatively brief) ride, it is something I am slowly learning to treasure, not fear. Sure, it is disorienting, but it may be my only opportunity to get outside myself long enough to actually learn something new and get away from my constant dialogue with none other than our own self, for the self is all about (you guessed it) only itself. There is more to life than that rat race.

So, when we vacate (vacation) and this loss of self happens, I try to tell myself to have faith, to lean back and feel the breeze when I am in freefall, and to just let it happen. I know my normal self will come back sometime, just as the Sun comes back each morning. You can count on that. In fact, it is unavoidable. However at the time, the emptiness freefall can be deafening.

In this world, not all is as it appears. Things sometimes can be upside down from what they look like. In retrospect those self-shattering moments are more of a blessing than a curse. My guess is that enlightenment, if I ever get there, is learning to enjoy the freefall more than my normal ignorance of it. In other words:

It is only in the last few days that I have begun to realize that I am coming out of a time of immersion in the cosmic ether, one that has gone on now for many months. And the instant I find my self finally taking control again, at that very moment I simultaneously realize, like the fly who has just stepped into the spider's web, that this familiar sense of myself that I have been missing is a trap I just stepped back into.

How ironic is that? LOL