Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who Am I ... part IV (The Voraciousness of Ego)

I cannot have any distractions for this trick. I cannot contemplate anything but uncovering my true self from the blizzard of beliefs I AM under. Yesterday I thought about writing for an anthology or a novella for a publisher and spent the rest of the day reminding myself that I'm not a good writer and I would only be embarrassing myself if I submitted something. This is not the space to argue whether I am or not, suffice to say this is what I believe. This is why the notion of jettisoning all my beliefs sounds pretty darn good.

When I say that I live as if there is another person standing right behind me judging me, that is exactly what the voice in my head (of my Ego?) is like. It is a pitbull of a watchdog that reminds me I am not enough. Okay, we've heard all that already, right? So what's new? (Say something witty before they all get up and leave!)

"Don't believe everything you think."

Good advice. What I  realized is that my Ego (for lack of a better word and to name the voice in my head without calling it Bob) is devious and cunning. While my Ego (Edging God Out, get it?) kept on about my writing abilities, I was completely off-focused from digging deeper toward the answer to Who Am I. Ah, very clever, right?

Some Spiritual Gurus will say that the Ego is something we created a a means of surviving a toxic childhood and it accepted all the beliefs we were taught and now we fight the Ego to come out from underneath and be our own person. Other Gurus will say that every thought you have is your own and to take responsibility for your thoughts. Let me tell you, it was much easier when I had an Ego to blame instead of accepting I was thinking those thoughts. On the other hand, all of my crucifying thoughts are as if someone is speaking to me. I never say "I'm a failure", It's always "You are a failure." Go figure.

So I ask you, how do you shut your thoughts off? What do you believe about yourself?

I was told I'm very introspective. Quite the curse, in a way. I don't think most people dwell on the same thinkings as I do.

Ah well. Enough for today. Back to I AM and clearing my head and not getting distracted. It's too easy for me to fall backward into the pit if I'm not vigilant.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Who I Am ... part III

If you had asked me a week ago, I would've told you that I was doing better, that the inner executioner had settled back when confronted with I AM because I AM says everything and nothing. It accepts no roles, identities or expectations and that was what the executioner feasted on.

All those expectations sloughed away when I became no one but I AM. I wasn't a father, son, writer, brother, musician, DJ, poet, brother-in-law, staff accountant II, husband or anything other than the organic and pure I AM. At first I thought that was a cop out. What do you mean, I AM? Bill S said that had helped him when he asked Who am I. The answer was I AM. What BS, right? I mean it's a non-answer. But that's the point. It's a non-identity and yet it means everything.


But as the week crept on, something happened. Maybe it was life. Maybe it was the overflow of negative energy that I'm immersed in. Early October I'll know if I have a job come 2014. The house that was supposed to be sold isn't and we're back to square one trying to sell it. No one around me is particularly optimistic. In trying to get rid of all distractions, I'm not writing.  Minus the distractions all I've left is me and you know how I feel about that. When there's no one else around, the executioner comes back again nice and loud. Throwing I AM at him doesn't seem to mean anything. I still don't know who I am. Repeating I AM is ambiguous with no concrete reality.

Add to this my friend, Bob Booth passed away early Saturday morning, so I'm quite sad about that.

I hate self-hate but liking myself isn't easy. If I'm not vigilant, I fall backward quickly. How's that go: One step up, two steps back. Lately, the executioner has begun degrading me as a writer: my writing will never amount to anything and there's no point in submitting it because I'll only embarrass myself. Lovely, huh?

And no, for me, it's not as simple as just stop thinking those negative thoughts. It's like living with someone always right behind me verbally beating me.

So back to I AM because there's no other choice, though I would like some other supporting concepts to keep the executioner at bay. That's about all the news that's print to fit.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Who Am I ... part 2

So then this funny thing happens. I've kicked myself to the curb and then spend a week in the curb, kicking myself some more because its familiar and easy. When I look at my track record of "accomplishments as a responsible, middle age male American", I fall way short (or so I believe): no college degree, no career track, no high powered anything, no zest to make fistfuls of money, no . . . interest in living up to expectations. Yeah. That's it.

I stop kicking myself. I'm doing time in the gutter and I'm looking at the cars, dreaming. Beliefs. Here I go again. It's this antiquated belief system. I know that. I KNOW that. Always have. But what does that really mean? Easy to say my belief system's broken and faulty, but then what? Bill S says beliefs are stories we tell ourselves, made up fictions of who we think we are. They're not real. Kathleen R says surely I have some healthy and beautiful beliefs about myself. Bill, I know. Kathleen, not so much.

But it gets me thinking, you know? In a world where I feel so small, I can't stop thinking big right now.What if I just jettison all my beliefs. Right here and right now. No more. Bye bye. Who-hoo, see ya. From this moment I have no beliefs about myself.

Then the notion of roles comes front and center. See how that happens? I am a father, husband, writer, son, brother, musician, friend, coworker, staff accountant II (really???) and I can add a dozen more from all the years of my life. Those roles define me, define all of us and tell us who we are based on our understanding of those roles. As a father I am this. as a son, I am that. As a writer, I'm this and that and the other thing over there. In other words, all these roles come with expectations of who I should be as a father, as a writer, as a husband.

But wait! There's been a slaughter here! That's right, kids, if the beliefs go, so do the expectations of my roles. Slaughter them all! I'm still all those things, but once I remove the expectations of each role, I'm left with ...

Hear that? It's an explosion of a supernova's worth of expectations in the vacuum of space. Don't hear it? Of course you don't. There is no sound in space!

But I digress.

Take away all the beliefs and all the expectations and all the defined roles (though still being those roles) and who am I?

If you took away all your beliefs about yourself and let go of what's expected of you because of each of your roles, who would you be? You'd still be a parent, spouse, worker and whatever else, but if you were sitting on a mountain by yourself with no responsibilities to anyone but yourself, who would you be?

Who Am I ... part I

Welcome to my self-discovery. First, a bit of history and then we'll see what happens next.

I have hated myself the greater part of my life. I have used the phrase self-loathing often. I am not enough. I have failed and disappointed everyone around me. I must be perfect or I’m worthless. Or so says my demon. Actually, it's a broken down, decrepit belief system as corrupt as former NY/NJ governor Edward Hyde (though no women's clothing is involved) that's been in use since before I was conscious of its existence.

In the years since, I have experienced therapies, lectures, seminars, The Omega Institute, books, cassettes, CDs, weekend retreats, The Open Center. I have experienced John Bradshaw, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, don Miguel Ruiz, Debbie Ford, Sheri Huber, Julia Cameron, Rick Jarow, Mia Farrow, Thich Nhat Hanh,Tara Brach, Pema Chodron and other spiritual gurus. And in the now of those experiences I am whole and clearly see my higher self, my calling and my perfect-ness as a spiritual being having a human experience. The demon is silenced.

But after the experience ends – the CD is over, the book is finished, the lecture is done – something happens (a moment of imperfection (being human)) and I fall back into the familiar embrace of the demon. The judgment and criticism come roaring back louder and more intense: “You’re a worthless piece of shit.” “You’re a failure.” “You’re a useless piece of garbage.” “Nobody cares about you.” “Why don’t you do everyone a favor and die.” “Can’t you do anything right?”

See, it's like this: Where most people write off mistakes, stumbles and gaffes as being human, that’s not acceptable to me. I must be perfect or people will see what a failure I am. This is shame: I don’t make mistakes, I am a fundamentally flawed mistake.

Some days/weeks are better than others and some are particularly brutal, with the demon screaming self-loathing epithets at me. All of this comes from thoughts borne out of a belief system that says life is difficult, that says I’m not enough to succeed, that says I should accept mediocrity, that says if enough people say I can't do a thing, then I can't do that thing, that bows down and worships the phrase "I Can't."

But for all the self-condemnation, I’ve kept going. I have a list of accomplishments that include two traditionally published novels, a cassette of originals, a lot of gigs, a cycled century and a couple of metric centuries and many other things. You’d think I would’ve gotten over myself and my hate. But no matter what, it’s not enough. People have published more novels, have ridden more centuries and are better musicians. Yes, I know that in this world there will always be people who’ve done more and many who’ve done less. I know that I shouldn’t stop writing or playing because there are people better than me. Yet because I believe I am not enough, I’m constantly thinking to give up. But I have not. I kept going and I’m still going, even with the self-condemnation I experience almost daily.

But wait ... in the darkness of my self there's a pinprick of light, the tiniest of flames and I focus on it and look to it as a means of letting go and "getting over it." But will I or will I allow the same demons to crawl out of the black and pull me under once again?