I feel like I am in a burning down phase right now.
That’s the phase where enough of my emotional garbage has surfaced to allow for a good clear burn off. The disgusting gunk is spread out on the ground so that the sun can dry it out, then raked back into piles and ignited with a flint, a tinder, and a little rage.
And then I can just stand back and watch it burn away slowly. Like a peat fire, it’s smokey and smells pretty bad, but when it’s done, everything is clear and clean and better than before. The system has been purged and for a while, I can feel the sun.
Eventually, though, that deep inner process will drive more gunk out of the system and onto the surface, and the whole cycle will begin again.
It’s not as zero sum as it seems, though. That deep inner process is slow but its results are final. The dead intentions and smothered feelings and grimy memories are gone for good, and the system as a whole runs better now that there’s less of my personal bullshit clogging up its pipes.
The burning hurts. But it also feels good. The feeling of relief makes the pain more than worth it. And some kinds of pain are not that bad.
Fear of pain does more damage than mere pain ever could. We are not and cannot be free until we learn to choose pain and thus free ourselves from its tyranny. The ability to say, “I know this will hurt but I am doing it any way because I want the result” is the first and probably the most important step towards adulthood and maturity.
To the childish, animalistic mind, choosing pain is madness no matter what the result might be. After all, animal instinct’s biggest rule is “seek pleasure and avoid pain”. It’s such a basic part of our minds that we can even convince ourselves that blatantly short-sighted and self-destructive actions are the “intelligent” or “sensible” in a deeply cowardly way.
But then again, intelligence has always been able to cloak its cowardice in virtue. Even when the choices cowardice makes are stupid as hell.
Once we can not just choose to do the painful thing, but to do it with eyes open and with full intent, we can cross the threshold and claim our reward.
Because this is not about mindless self-denial or some abstract notion of self-discipline for its own sake. This is about enabling our own happiness by expanding our powers to get what we want regardless of how we feel or whether or not it involves pain or sacrifice or scary, hard decisions.
The voice of immaturity will try to convince you that whatever is painful (or scary or whatever) can’t possibly be worth it. After all, you’ve done without it so far. And what kind of idiot chooses to suffer? Better to avoid it.
But imagine you have a toothache. You know damned well that the only way to get rid of it is to go to the dentist. But going to the dentist is scary and hard and dentists do painful and weird stuff to you.
So you just sit there and suffer due entirely to your own cowardice.
That’s a pretty cut and dried example and most people wouldn’t do that. But people do the equivalent all the time. Including me. Especially me.
Anyhow, that’s all old news. Where was I? Oh right, the burning.
There’s this image that recurs to me from time to time. It goes like this : there’s a place up in the mountains, a kind of natural temple where people can climb a twisting path up and down the bare living rock to a place at the end of the path, where it dips down and then just suddenly ends.
People go there and stand on the lip of the abyss to sacrifice their pain and suffering and damage to the gods as a way of declaring themselves to be free of them. They go there and they scream it all out in brutal honesty and call upon the gods to take their burdens from them and set them free.
But this is not an act of servile contrition or self-abasing supplication. This is an act of a very deep kind of pride, the kind that drives out unworthy feelings and puts them in our hands so that we can hold them high over our heads, roar our challenge at the sky, and let them burn away into the air in a wrenching act of incendiary sacrifice.
I can see it clearly in my mind, as if I’d dreamed it very recently. But it’s not a dream, or at least, not the kind you have in your sleep. It’s something that pops into my head fully formed now and then, and each time, more details are added.
That;s what creativity looks like from the inside, at least for me.
Poetically speaking, I guess you could say it’s a place inside of me. I think of it more as a place I wish existed in the real world. Some place where you can sacrifice your pain and sorrow and all the other things we need to shed if we are to be light enough to fly free.
My desire for personal growth, for spiritual evolution, is very strong. It is, in a sense, what I desire the most, although my methods for seeking it might seem rather circuitous or at least indirect to an outside observer.
I learn. I think. I experience things. And I grow. Not as fast as my ambition desires, but I know of no other way.
Perhaps if I had the capacity for spirituality, I would grow faster. With spirituality (or mysticism, or religion, or faith, or whatever you want to call it), transformation is possible, as is the option of facing your demons directly.
But alas, I must forever toil in the cold light of reason’s ignorance and that means doing everything the hard way.
But at least when I get there, I will remember the route.
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.