smooth sailing

You know, whenever things go really smoothly for a long time, as they have been, I get suspicious.  Not because I'm a pessimist and I think something horrible will happen at any second just based on probabilities.  Nothing like that.  More like, if I'm not having any problems with my life, what am I missing? 

It's too easy to slide into kitsch.  To forget yourself.  When things are going well we run the risk of living just on the surface, no matter how deep our lives may appear to be.  I write all the time about deep topics, I talk about spirituality on a daily basis.  I talk about hope and pain and beauty and suffering. 

But even that feels like kitsch.  I know I believe it with my whole heart, but right now my whole heart doesn't really want to get behind it.  It's as if I still know all that I've learned, but I don't *know* it like I did before.

And, as usually happens, these last couple days as I've started to notice my problem, I've been mildly depressed.  But the interesting thing is that because of that depression my eyes are open wider.  I'm taking in so much more than I was.  I have moments where I sense that I can't get to that radical feeling of hope unless I start from here.  From suffering.

Relatively speaking, I'm not having any sort of problem.  It's bullshit really, compared to others, and compared to pain I've gone through before.  But that doesn't mean I should ignore it.  I feel like I need it.  I feel so much more real, so much more alive.  Time isn't just passing for me, I am actively engaged in it. 

I know that only by accepting my feelings and entering into them and letting them hit me with full force will I be able to get back what it is I feel like I've lost.  In giving it up, I'll get it back.

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  1. Kudos to you for continuing to challenge yourself. That's how you find answers. There's nothing more aggravating than someone who thinks they have it all figured out. The fact that you keep searching for the next stair and can readily spot the kitsch means everything. Excelsior!Time isn't just passing for me, I am actively engaged in it.Awesome.

  2. This is so fascinating I dont even know where to start. A question? A celebration? A discussion? A Kudos?Congratulations … I am flummoxed.

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    • November 28th, 2007

    I always love the idea of the Catholic Calendar – at least how it was presented to me way back when I went through RCIA. The way I understood it is that it is a spiral. We have seasons that are warmer and closer to the light and seasons that are colder and further away from the light. And so go our lives – constantly spiraling toward the light and away from it. And because it is a spiral, we are moving inward so the movements away and toward the light get shorter and shorter as we remain on the journey. The movements don't necessarily go away, but because they become shorter, it gets easier to recognize the pattern and know when we're in a dark space that the light is waiting for us to make our cyclical journey through the darkness.The key, I think, is to do exactly what it is you are doing. Accept where it is you are at (something I'm not so great at doing!!) Live the question, as Rumi says, because there is nothing to do but grow into the answer.

  3. but what if you enter into your pain, let it hit you full force, and it's too much? what if it takes you too far? is everyone able to bear whatever pain they're hit with, and if so, is that because there is still some measure of protecting yourself and not letting it go too far?is the trouble with suicidal people the fact that they go too far into the pain, and then don't find a way out?

  4. I think the problem for suicidal people is not that they enter into the pain. In fact, what looks like entering into it is actually a means to control it. By wallowing in it and keeping it around you, you know what to expect. By cutting yourself you give yourself control over your pain. It's avoidance, it's not acceptance.The only thing to fear is fear itself right? It's the fear of pain that makes pain hurt so damned much. I'm trying to relax and let it wash over me and pass through me peacefully without trying to wrestle with it. Like the Buddhists say: hold, and let go. I'm trying my best to not protect myself.

  5. I am by no means, good at letting go.But when I feel sad, I tend to rush towards it. Its like i want to embrace it and swim in it for a while. Until it subsides. Jump in and *be* the sadness for a while.So I put on sombre music. I write melancholically. I sing the sad songs. I cry if I need to. I punch pillows. And think depressing thoughts. And just let it be for all it is.For some reason, I feel like this is more healthy than trying to deny the sadness. It seems like I get over it faster.

  6. so, does accepting the pain mean accepting the things that cause the pain? not that you haven't explained it a lot, i'm just having a hard time grasping or understanding the difference between accepting the pain and wallowing in it. so far, they feel like the same thing to me, but that's probably because of the fear issue.

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    • November 28th, 2007

    My main problem has always been that I feel guilty for feeling sad so it is very difficult for me to "be" with my sadness (or "be" sadness as you say). It's very difficult for me to believe I deserve to feel sad. I think if I could just allow myself to be sad, I'd be able to move out of a lot of stuck areas in my life. I think you are probably right – that embracing it is far healthier than trying to adjust your attitude toward it. American society, at least, isn't particularly fond of suffering so feeling sad is not always easily tolerated. Being happy is the name of the game and if we are sad, we are very often expected to get over it without going through it.

  7. Haha, it's funny cuz I just now realized that was you Heather. I mean, obviously I knew you were here, but the name didn't click until just now. ;)I guess the difference is subtle, and it doesn't necessarily show from the outside. I think it's an inner movement. It's the reasons for it I guess. It's all very twisty psychological stuff. ;)But basically I'd say that kitsch and wallowing depression are two sides of the same coin. Both involve a denial of reality to make it easier to manage. The kitsch person denies the pain so that it can't touch them (which always backfires, of course), and the wallowing person keeps the pain close so that it has less power over them, so that they know what to expect. Kitsch expects good, wallowing expects bad.But it's best not to expect anything at all, and to accept whatever comes your way. We can't deny any part of the experience, whether it's the pain or the good. It's always inexorably mixed.

  8. Yeah, it's hard to be genuine when it comes to suffering when we live in such a kitsch world.

  9. you have extraordinary perceptiveness (and some wonderfully real *grit*). thanks for sharing, and i don't mean this to come out the wrong way, but i hope you enjoy your suffering again. :)I love this outlook, and it's one that i try to keep to myself. i find that, for me, it slips easily into passive acceptance, it becomes almost comfortable to not suffer the suffering (to expect the bad as you said). and when that happens, the opportunities for going deeper are missed and the potential within yourself that the opportunity offered to explore is lost too. once again, thanks!

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