Yesterday I posed this question: who or what is it that lies buried in the tomb within? And how amazing is this, that just in asking, answers begin to come?
The ferry Wenatchee was out of service yesterday, so our ferry schedule was cut in half, with every other run canceled. This meant -- since I had a 3:00 appointment with my advisor in Seattle -- that I actually had to leave home at 11:45, which (because all the boats were carrying a double load of passengers) put me near the end of the line for the 12:20 ferry -- which was running 18 minutes late -- which put me into Seattle 2 hours ahead of schedule. (There WAS no 1:10 ferry, and the 2:05 would not have gotten me in in time.)
That was probably more than you needed to know. But suffice it to say I had lots of extra time on my hands, so I brought along a notebook intending to research this who-is-in-the-tomb problem. I started by working on the assumption that it might be about the death of a dream, so I listed all the dreams I've had for my life (that I could think of) that might have fallen short.
But even as I made the list I could see, not just the ways they've fallen short, but the ways they have been realized. So I made a second set of lists, one for each dream, listing the ways they had come true and the ways they had not. And without even walking through all of them, a pattern immediately became apparent: in each case what was missing was some sort of recognition or affirmation -- and in most cases it was a relative affirmation.
For example: I dreamed from the time I was young of becoming a writer, and am disappointed that I haven't been published. But actually I have been published, but some part of me is saying "Yes, but...", as in "Yes, but that was just articles" and "Yes, that was a book, but you were asked to write it and there's no wide distribution" and "Yes, but that was just self-publishing" and "Yes, but that's just a blog."
About the time I was coming to this realization the ferry arrived, and I got busy dealing with traffic, etc. and set my concerns and discoveries aside (and tore the lists into tiny pieces and stuffed them in my purse).
Continuing ferry challenges meant I missed the 4:40 back from Seattle, so was doomed to wait for the 6:20 (the 5:30 having been canceled); I spent my time reading textbooks on systems theory given to me by my advisor. When I finally got home at 7:30 (see? living on an island sounds so romantic, but it does have its challenges!) it was to find the book about super-ego that I'd ordered Tuesday after hearing about it in class had arrived: Byron Brown's Soul Without Shame: A guide to liberating yourself from the judge within.
My daughter was lounging on the couch in the living room, finishing the last of the Harry Potter series before heading off for her summer as a camp counselor (at least ONE of the five of us will have an income!) so I decided to join her, and settled into my favorite rocker to see what Byron Brown had to offer. And this is what I read in the very first chapter:
"When you feel lifeless, unchanging, and at the mercy of external forces, you are no longer aware of your soul nature...This soul loss is often not noticed until you begin to feel your experience pervded by a lack of substance or inner meaning. When this happens, you have come to a point where your identity is so much about familiar forms that you have lost all contact with the living, dynamic substance of who you are. There's no juice left in your life. You find yourself saying, "this can't be all that I am. There must be more to life than this." Many people consider this indicative of a midlife crisis. In fact, it is the cry of your soul reminding you of your soul nature."
Brown goes on to explain that part of how this happens is tied in to your own expectations and demands for yourself; that the hunger for affirmation and respect cannot be met by external forces but rather is a sign of your own inner sense of a lack of self-worth, which is triggered by the constant criticism and comparisons of your inner judge.
Okay. BINGO! So now -- with Brown's help -- I get to go on a new journey -- to resurrect (or maybe just awaken) my own sense of soul. My first mission, he says, is to spend a day assessing my motivations for my activities and behaviors. And then, at the end of the day, I get to list them all and assess which are motivated by the desire to avoid criticism (both internal and external) and which are motivated by the desire to gain approval (again, both internal and external).
Hmm. I suspect I've been dancing around this subject ever since that list of 40 shoulds I made back on Ash Wednesday. But I'm psyched: the connection has been made, a new opportunity has opened, my meditation was rewarding this morning in a way it hasn't been for a while, and it feels like there's a little light flowing into the tomb.