Finally…Acceptance

In April of 1992 I left a marriage of 26 years that for me had been dead for a long time. I spent the next 16 months trying to fill the loneliness with another lifeless relationship. I was petrified of being alone without a woman in my life. In September of 1993, right after this relationship ended, I rented a house on Long Beach Island and spent a week alone; writing, reading, running, walking the beach and obsessing over this woman who had helped me make the break from my marriage. I must have known but refused to admit that this would have been another dead-end but fear of being alone kept the obsession alive.

During this week at the shore I read Robert Pirsig’s “ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE”. I wasn’t wild about the book and, to be honest, read it only because it had been recommended by my therapist. The last paragraph in the book made the effort worthwhile. It reads: “Trials never end, of course. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but there is a feeling now, that was not here before, and is not just on the surface of things, but penetrates all the way through: We’ve won it. It’s going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things.” There I was, alone and afraid and yet beginning to feel that it, whatever “IT” is, was starting to awaken in me. An unfamiliar feeling of wellness was present and somehow I understood it as being in my power to maintain it.

A month or so later, on another recommendation from my therapist, I read Peter Matthiessen’s “THE SNOW LEOPARD”. The book is about a 250 mile trek through the Himalayas that Matthiessen took following the death of his wife after a long battle with cancer. Early in the book there is a Carl Jung quote that took my breath away. I read it and knew that although I didn’t know where I was headed, I was on my way. Here is that quote. It’s very important to me and I think of it often and ask myself if I’m being true to the mysterious force that guides me to me.

“The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing….He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths…. There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices. “You are no different from anybody else,” they will chorus, or, “there’s no such thing,” and even if there is such a thing, it is immediately branded as “morbid.”…. He is at once set apart and isolated, as he has resolved to obey the law that commands him from within. “His own law!” everybody will cry. But he knows better: it is the law…. The only meaningful life is the life that strives for the individual realization-absolute and unconditional-of it’s own particular law…. To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being…he has failed to realize his life’s meaning.”
“The uncovered vein within us is a living part of the psyche; classical Chinese philosophy names this interior way “Tao,” and likens it to a flow of water that moves irresistibly toward it’s goal. To rest in Tao means fulfillment, wholeness, one’s destination reached, one’s mission done; the beginning, end, and perfect realization of the meaning of existence innate in all things.”

All of my life I have tried, at once, to fit and to fight because I didn’t. I tried to fit because I was living according to the law of should and I fought because I knew I didn’t fit. I always felt out of place and awkward. I thought the laws of convention, of style, of the church were the law. I believed that living according to my law was impossible but it kept calling me but I continued to pull away and become less and less. I had never asked myself what I really believed. I suppose it either never occurred to me or, more probably, I didn’t think it mattered. Once I started writing my truth began to show itself and as it did I was hooked. I couldn’t stop.

My soul ached and refused to give in. I began to have my own friends instead of those of my “circumstance”. I began to take less conventional suggestions like writing and reading the kind of books mentioned here. I wanted to be happy in my own way. Not the smiling, glad handing kind of happy but the quiet, accepting, peaceful kind. Today I am happy and am well on the way to knowing what makes me tick. I am sort of comfortable with my “quirks” and a bit less so with the irrational fears that continue their drive to control me. Even today they pop up and tell me that I’m a coward, that I’m not good enough, that I’m fat and stupid and all the other nonsense that used to run me.

Teilhard du Chardin said that we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience but rather we’re spiritual beings having a human experience. I like that. It rings true to me. There is some “I” within me that has always wanted to be recognized and I’ve spent a long time quelling it.

Posted May 22, 2007

3 Comments

The insights you share in this piece are powerful to me. Thank you.

Phil,

How utterly “unpolitical” these are and utterly relevant they might be to all “politics”. It’s funny that I should get to these today. Your “truths” have fed me today, and lightened me.

Thank you again!!

i have always lived according to what others think is “in” or right or cool i havent followed my thoughts when i look in the mirror i look with their eyes not mine i dont know myself i have no power over myself but just the realization of this and what u have written is helping i m evolving into myself Thankz

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