Monday, January 4, 2010

What If

You were presented with a unique opportunity today to deconstruct, brick by brick, board by board and by your own choice, every belief you ever had about yourself, your relationships, about God or not God, about the ‘reality’ of the universe, humanity, creation, heaven and hell, life after death, etc. Everything until you got right down to nothing.

And what if this process guaranteed that you not only question every belief you ever had but caused you to realize that for your entire life you haven’t known yourself at all, that you haven’t been paying attention to what is really going on around you, that you don’t really know the people around you, your family, your friends, the sales guy at the hardware store.

What if it caused you to realize that you married your spouse for all the ‘wrong’ reasons and that in fact you never really loved her/him at all. What if you realized that your child’s drug problem, psychiatric problem, personality problem, fill in your own problem description here, was the direct result not of some gene that she/he inherited from you but rather your own psychological ‘disorder’ of which is currently not even on your psychic radar. The sins of the father and all that. In fact what if part of the deal was the realization that you don’t have the first clue what might be presented to you about yourself, good, bad, ugly, pretty and how it profoundly affected not only you but all of your loved ones also?

What if this involved the loosening of all of the bonds, the behaviors, the habits, those ‘things’ that get you through the days and nights, the booze, the drugs, the cutting, the smokes, the job, the gambling, the nail-biting and the porn in the hope of something new and undefined?

What if this process caused you to be thrown into complete and utter confusion, thick fog or even total darkness about what is real and that the only path out was to actively choose every moment for the rest of your life to live in this state of confusion and fogginess, to keep choosing to step out into the darkness, not able to see what lies even one foot in front of you, constantly letting go of the concept of ‘what is’, replacing definitiveness with a continual, active and conscious acquiescence to ‘this might not be’ again with only a promise of increasing clarity, true clarity which (it is promised) will be forthcoming only a teaspoonful at a time over the course of the rest of your life. And what if clarity turned out to be something you thought you knew the meaning of but in fact turned out to be something you had never seen before?

In other words you discard completely everything you (think you) know right now about EVERYTHING and start from scratch with a blank slate all in the interest (here’s the pay-off) of finding the ULTIMATE reality, true TRUTH.

You put yourself on a path, you have no idea where it's going to lead and you have absolutely no idea what or where you're headed and you haven't the first clue what it's going to look like when you get there.

Would you have the courage to do that?


  1. Dear jss,
    I read this yesterday but couldn't reply without thinking.
    My answer would have to be that, I feel as though I have already put myself on a path to somewhere. I have no idea where it will lead and I don't think I am moving much at all. In fact, in some ways, I think I have to keep stopping and crouching down to cover my head with my arms.
    I'm not at all sure whether I will even make it to wherever the hell it is I'm headed.

    Would I have the courage to do what YOU describe though?
    In all honesty? I'd like to say yes but I have a feeling that I wouldn't come out of it alive.

    What about you?

  2. Hi WS
    I thought about you when I was writing this yesterday. I'm already doing this, as are you. I think that anybody who has made the determined committment to attend and stick with therapy for the long haul is doing this. Here's the thing. I'm not 100% sure that people are aware that therapy (with the right therapist of course) can mean everything that I've written above but I think if a person is willing to eventually jump in with both feet, than what I describe is essentially what happens.

    As I said stick with it. I've had plenty of those times where I seem stuck where I am and I anticipate plenty more. I'm not saying that isn't hard I'm just saying that I've had them and I'm still here and eventually it starts moving forward again. Or moving in some direction. I don't think therapy should be defined as always moving forward. Sometimes just moving left or right is good therapy. I am learning slowly to take the time to explore and to be sure therapy is a very difficult thing and I'm having my share of difficulties with it too - there are places I resist going on a continuing basis but you see the difference is that I can see this whereas before I could not. You have to see what you're doing before you can attempt to figure out how to change it yes? There is no turning back for me. It's hard sometimes but I'll survive and so will you. It would be like getting 1/3 of the way across a river of snakes and then turning back because I was afraid. What's the point of turning back? I still have to get to the other side. I suspect that you understand this feeling of the point of no return. We can live in misery or we can look at the knife, know it's going to hurt like hell when we pull it out but we grit our teeth and pull it out anyway because if it doesn't come out we don't stand a chance.

    Hang in there.

  3. I LOVE this post. It really moved me. Thanks!

  4. Read your reply last night and you will never know how timely it was or how much it impacted me.
    I want to believe your wisdom. I want to believe that it's still worth it and that it's not just a pointless journey into the depths.
    I'm not moving forward OR left or right at the moment but that might be because, like you, there are places I avoid going.
    I am more than touched that you thought of me when you wrote that initial post. It might perhaps explain why it resonated so deeply.
    I have no idea who you are jss, but not for the first time, I feel a little bit "known" by you.
    Thank you.

  5. Maybe it is a pointless journey I don’t know. I am in the unique position have having lost memory of most of my youthful years. One of the problems of being in this position is that I have no idea what’s going to pop up. I had one of those pop up, holy shit what the hell am I supposed to do with this moments just this past week and believe me, I am swimming in the “is it worth it” right now.

    Is it going to ultimately be worth it? I have no freaking idea but I’m going to keep doing it in the hopes that it is. This is me right now: standing at the edge of a very dark and deep lake, looking at what might be the promised land on the other side, I said what ‘might’ be, and wondering how the hell I’m going to get there. I’ve been standing on this edge for months now contemplating, dipping a toe in every now and then and pulling back each time. And you know I’ll tell you something else, I have always, always considered myself a very brave and strong person and I have been at times surprised and perplexed at my reluctance, resistance, call it what you will. But in the end I do know that I cannot give up that image of myself of courage and strength, in fact it is ultimately necessary for me to prove to myself that that is exactly what I am.

    Naturally I do not know you but I suspect you have already passed that point of no return, much the same as me. There would be no point in NOT finding out what’s on the other side now. Monsters along the way maybe, who knows, people we loved and we thought we knew but it turns out we don’t… probably. I am not willing anymore to exist in a state that is very far short of my potential as a human being. And if realizing my potential means fighting the monsters well then so be it.

  6. jss

    Your strength and your bravery ripple through your post like water when dipped into.
    I hear such determination.

    I'm sorry you are right in there in the horrors of the battle with 'the point of it all'.
    I understand what you mean by 'the point of no return'.

    I also understand what you mean by having no memory of most of your childhood, as in many ways, I am in a very similar situation. I do have memories and I KNOW, without doubt, that my mind has not 'blocked' any of the traumas that may often be associated with the the darkness I fight now.
    It must be very, very frightening to have things 'pop up' because it implies a very scary lack of control. Sounds like you never quite know what you are going to have to face next, and that must be terrifying.

    I join you at the edge of the pool, jss.
    It is dark and I have no idea how deep it is. What I do have is your thoughts about staying there and trying to dare rather than turning and running.

    I hope you know you are not quite alone there.