I once attended a training taught by a man named Jim Mitchell. A tall, robust black man, a former bank executive who gave up that life well before people were hungry to hang bankers, he'd dedicated himself to training men to deal with their emotional baggage. One of his central ideas, in the training at least, was the idea that there are interior reservoirs, of grief and anger. He told us, if you want to get clear about who you are, and what you are doing in this life, you need to dive down into those reservoirs and drain them.
That made sense to me, on a visceral level. I was working at a Fortune 100 at the time, at their world headquarters, paid more for less work than I'd ever done anywhere before, and yet I didn't feel right. I had dedicated myself to a path of healing two and a half years prior to that, and those years had been productive; I felt better and more clear about who I was than I ever had in my adult life. But still, something wasn't right. I didn't want to be working in a climate controlled tower surrounded by sound deadening cubicle walls and profoundly conventional people. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but it wasn't that. So I took that training, and I thought about what Mitchell said, and I set about an intention.
I took some time off work, and fasted and deprived myself of sleep for three days, at the end of which, six of my most trusted friends came to my house, and they sat in a circle on my living room floor, with me in the middle. I fasted and sleep-deprived myself because I figured, the weaker my defenses, the more I might be able to get to the core of what I was looking for. I also had severe symptoms of Lyme disease at the time, which I didn't know was Lymes, which exacerbated my physical strain immensely. My friend Snake facilitated, and I went about exploring the depth of my grief. I was a mess from the beginning.
I wrote about that experience in my first book, The Dream That Must Be Interpreted. Free to download, such as it is, if you don't read any other part of the book, and want to know what a grief reservoir draining session might look like - there it is, chapter five, Initiation. Suffice to say, I did not know I was that deep. Nothing very pleasant about it, I might add. But such is the nature of personal growth, dealing with unpleasantries.
A young woman who goes by the handle Karpatok said it well, about grief, with these simple words: “How could they...HOW COULD THEY!” in the Doomstead Diner forum recently, in reference to the hideous destruction of the mountainous land of her birth and childhood, West Virginia, by mountain-top removal coal mining. Grief, in it's generalized form, about what has been done to me, what has been done to the earth, and also, consequently, what I have done to myself. The constant breaking down, the demands of obedience, the cruel critiques, the minimizing, the petty and not so petty tyrannical pressure to conform, the physical and psychological abuse, the irrational command and control aggressiveness of Authority. The Destruction of the biosphere in the name of self-interest, the systemic toxicity, the burning of fossil fuels wantonly and the denial of the consequences, the constant enforcement of separation, the predations of the monied. All the stupid petty things I have done to fall in line, to debase myself, to make myself small.
Of course, the other side of that is anger, for all the very same reasons. If you want to know what my anger has come to look like, I'll refer you to my recent post 911, which I wrote shortly after I came to the belated conclusion that 9/11 was a false flag, inside job to initiate a war of Terror on all the people of the world, that cannot end or be won, any more than the drug war, which never was about eradicating drugs or drug use, but about the control of the people. What I would like to do, to the defilers! There is a thing in me that desires to kill every last one. But in case you haven't figured out, and I haven't been clear enough about it, I am NOT encouraging you to explicit violence. At most, I am encouraging you to explore the depths of your anger. Because if there is to be anything like a change of course, driving humanity in a direction away from mass extinction and the destruction of the biosphere, IMHO we're going to have to get clear about our anger. As is, it's coming out sideways mostly, directed by Authority at anything but Authority, or directed at Authority impotently, or bottled within and tearing us apart.
Mitchell talked about draining that reservoir too, and he's right. I don't think one can think or be clearly, as long as that reservoir remains full, spilling out over the sides. I think we have to drain it. And at the bottom of those two reservoirs I think, are pearls of forgiveness. Because we have to forgive, or it isn't the thing we wish to destroy that is destroyed, but ourselves instead. And the thing about that is, forgiveness isn't anything like giving up, giving in. Forgiveness is like freeing oneself to be in love with this life fiercely. To be in love with this earth, to be free to do what one can to nurture and protect it, each other and ourselves
So I think if you really want to understand how deep you are, how deep down you really do go, you've got to dive on in, into one's own depth, inside. Nothin' pleasant about that work, necessarily, but real change rarely is.
And if you do that work, if you're anything like me, you may just find, the hardest one to forgive is myself.
Note: There is a fundraising drive going on for me, at the Doomstead Diner. A couple of my posts have been featured there. It's a great crowd, a great resource for dialogue and information about the collapse of Civilization. I find myself in a bit of a financial bind, my utilities long in arrears and threatening to open up another confrontation with city governance over an attempted condemnation of my house. RE, chief admin there, found out, and offered up the idea. I accepted. To anyone who gives, to help give me a little breathing room while I figure out WTF with this house, and myself - THANK YOU! Whether you come from the Diner, or from my blog, drop a note and I'll reply. Blessings, with gratitude.