Thursday, January 19, 2012

Late Night Conversations™: Letting Go

[edited slightly to be more readable]

Not Me:
Coincidentally, this is one of the reasons I've always been shy about the idea of pushing boundaries, pushing limits. I should think the best environment for letting go is one that is at all levels completely safe and comfortable, where you can know without question, or hesitation, where you can really feel that you won't ever be put in a place where you don't want to be, so you can surrender that need to protect yourself more comfortably. Do you have thoughts about that?

I think that the idea you describe is partly (partly, mind you) an illusion. No matter how well-meaning others are, and no matter how much they love you, they will sometimes push you too far, or in the wrong direction, or say something wrong. In that sense, there is no such thing as a completely safe environment. I have said things which unintentionally set you off before, but you feel no less safe with me.

The point being that safety is not really about being safe. Surrendering that need to protect yourself comes when you feel comfortable enough with your ability to communicate your needs. Because the whole point of lowering those barriers isn't that there is some guarantee you won't be hurt. It's the slow (as slow as it needs to be) process of realizing that hurt happens and what's important is that we are with people who listen to us when we say "hey, that hurt," people who will respond to our needs, try to help us and help themselves.

So I guess what I'm saying is that yes, in part one should of course do one's best to safeguard the environment in which one does this sort of work. But there is a cliff of uncertainty no matter what, and I posit that instead of only coming up to the edge and stopping and remaining completely safe, one should, when one is ready, bungee jump. Because that is how we grow.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I watched the Sherlock season finale and now I find myself desperately craving chocolate. Is that what it means to be human, to feel so deeply even though your mind knows that there is no real reason for it? Is that why we are storytellers and poets? We cannot help but feel, and attempts to suppress it bring most people sorrow.

It probably doesn't help that I just finished the book Foreigner which is literally all about a man trying to translate between two completely different sentient species: human and atevi...who don't have emotions in the way that humans do. And the main character spends pretty much the entire book trying to understand not only what it feels like to be an atevi, but also reflecting and seeking out what it feels like to be a human. What are we, really? Why do we feel the things we feel? What is feeling?

Sometimes it all swirls up and overtakes me and I wish I could curl up by a fire somewhere and lose myself in happy stories and never have to feel sad or afraid. But then, I wonder. Is it really so bad, to feel pain and sorrow? We are trained practically from birth to process sadness as 'bad' and happiness as 'good.' But many of my experiences in life have led me to question that foundational assumption. To be clear, I do not think that just feeling itself is enough, that sad and happy are the same. I still think that my objective in life is to seek happiness. But, in what may or may not be an unusual way of seeing things, I believe that sadness doesn't cancel out my happiness, and that in order to continue to pursue happiness I actually have to feel sadness sometimes.

Sadness fills me with compassion, sadness breaks down the walls of my inner self and opens me up to the sadness and pain of the universe. Sadness is not what creates shells around people, rather people build walls around themselves to try to keep out the sadness. But I think it's within all of us, walls or not. And if we brick ourselves up we're just locking ourselves in a room with our own fears. If I open myself up, and let myself feel sad, I gain new understandings about myself, and the world. If I tell myself not to be afraid of the intensity of my feelings, to let go the need to be in control of my emotions...I'm free of myself.

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