Follow the White Rabbit
Posted by Amanda Gray on August 13, 2013
So I finally have the job situation I always dreamed about – working 3 days a week, at something generally enjoyable (customer service) – and having 4 days off – to do whatever I want. Yes, I finally have the perfect work/life balance situation… but what have I done with my 4 days off every week for the past 2 months? Nothing. All inspiration has completely dried up!
So, my left brain has done what it’s always done: tried to fill the perceived lack. It frantically sought for an activity to inspire and fill my free time. First, I thought I’d make another short film, but I couldn’t come up with any interesting ideas. So then I looked to the past: I bought a book and downloaded some software, hoping to resurrect my computer programming skills from 13 years ago. Yet, the ambition has been sporadic. I dug out my cooking books from when I was a professional pastry cook 19 years ago. I examined the recipes, thinking that I might rent a kitchen and make some cakes to sell. But that ambition dried up too.
Then I was invited to guest teach a drama class at the local school. Again I picked a few books from the bookshelf, dusted them off, and resurrected my professional acting skills from 21 years ago.
The day I spent with the kids was amazing. First, I spent a couple of hours trying, with difficulty, to motivate, a very unmotivated, group of teenagers. I did my best, and enjoyed the experience with them, for what it was. Still, at that point, when I might have felt disappointed with the outcome, I was asked to present my acting exercises again with a larger group of, far more motivated and energetic, junior high kids. Later, when I considered the two, highly contrasting, experiences, I could see how the aperture of life – energy, experimentation, and joy – that the younger group displayed with abundance, can close down in our teen years – just as we start to feel self-conscious and begin to judge ourselves (and everything else).
I can now see how the teenage period of life can magnify a fear of expressing. For most, it’s a fear of judgement, or rejection by others. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I hurt someone’s feelings? What if they misunderstand me? And mostly, in my life, I’ve preempted my self expression right off the bat – just blocked it, entirely. When I look within, I find nothing… just a solid black wall… so I believe that I have nothing important or valuable to express. As I became habitual in my disregard for my own creative imagination, and established a belief in creative poverty, I spent my life searching for a specific form (i.e. “acting”) that could restore it. Always regurgitating someone else’s ideas and words, yet desperately wanting to create something unique – and express my true self. Yet, I felt that I couldn’t: What can I say if I don’t have anything to say? On the other hand, if I don’t value my own ideas, who will?
– Now I see why I developed a major migraine at the monastery last year when I was helping to paint the tipi. I became sick as a denial of my creative expression.
– Now I see why I couldn’t stay to participate in the Strawberry Fields Music Festival. Because I was jealous of the ones who could openly express themselves.
– Now I see why I had to meet Ben when I went to San Francisco. He’s FULL ON expression, all the time! And because I could see my greatest desire in him – to express without fear – I loved him and was able to join with him in the spirit of that love.
Furthermore, as I’ve continued to inquire into my desire to express, I’ve used the population at large as an experiment group. One day, my question was: How honest can I really be with my customers at work? All day long, I allowed myself to say whatever was on my mind – even if it was, in my opinion, rather rude, and, in the past, I would’ve censored it. Surprisingly, I learned that people could take all kinds of honesty – and even seemed to appreciate it – as long as it was said with an attitude of humour, a tease, or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Then, it didn’t come across as rude, it was funny instead, and a shared ‘truth-joke’ between us. My experiment failed only when my statements were fuelled with a sour attitude, a judgement of the other person, or anger used to defend and attack. Then I was belittling, or patronizing, and it was no fun at all. I judged myself most harshly when I made the mistake, felt horribly guilty, and expected to be punished. I wasn’t punished, thank God, but I had to move quickly into forgiveness to restore the situation, and I learned that no one is ever fooled with the underlying intention – particularly myself. Acting shmackting!
And I started to ask: what does it really mean to express myself? Does it require a particular form? If I’m walking, talking, moving, thinking, drawing, singing, working, doing dishes or shovelling shit – am I not always expressing myself??? I listened to an Adyashanti radio show where Mukti (his wife, also a spiritual teacher) said, “We meditate to express ourselves.” I had never thought of meditation in this way before! Could I be ‘expressing myself’ in meditation? Well… not if it’s only FEAR that’s allowed! That’s the nothing – the black wall – that I’ve experienced within. I’ve been afraid of myself!!! I’m blocking myself!!! From what I really want!!! ARRRRRGH!!!
– Now I see why I kept manifesting painful pimples around my mouth. I felt guilty that I wasn’t participating in the ego story: that I be an actor (or artist, or rock star, etc.) – and then I’ll be great and famous – and then people will love me – and then I’ll feel loved and be happy. I was fixated on a particular and preferred, but also very limited, ‘form’ of expression – and when I participated in activities that haven’t perfectly matched that form, I felt guilty and punished myself with pimples. I felt envious of the creative expression of others (also in particular forms)… and punished myself with pimples. The bottom line, of course, is that I’ve been denying expression that could’ve been going on all the time, regardless of form. Also, I’ve been more interested in ‘getting’ a particular outcome (ultimately, love) than I’ve been in the expression itself. Which – paradoxically – can only come from a natural extension of our truth – being LOVE. Haha! Twisted!
What if… I open my mind… and remove all limited ideas of a particular form or activity for my life? What if I allow my burning desire to express, allow it to arise from the depths of my guts, and ask it how IT wants to move? In THIS moment?
What if I follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole?
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