Thursday, November 10, 2005

examining the unexamined

I read a compelling autobiographical novel recently, in which the main character had to painstakingly examine his past in order to move on spiritually. In his case, the effort was worthwhile- he ended up with a life of abundance, joy and freedom.

The frustrating thing about the book was that the reader was not offered even a glimpse of what was uncovered during the man's self-examination. I have to assume that he had made poor choices, such as greed over fullfilment of destiny, for example.

Regarding my own life, I have many times tried to completely identify any and all problems, issues, and/or shortcomings, covert or overt. I specifically recall once listing over 500 people whom I had "hurt"- sometimes by an offense as trivial as thinking envious thoughts about my "victim". It was actually a list of every person I had ever met- nobody was safe around me.

I was young back then. Now I'm hopefully better equipped to uncover the highlights of my past which led me to where I am now.

I spoke of Miss Bitchard, my Kindergarten teacher in a previous post. Surely starting school before I was ready contributed to my lifetime of shyness, and shaming teachers like Miss B loved to prey upon quiet little children. There were teachers who did the opposite, who built me up like a human skyscraper, unlimited. James Cardin (2 posts ago) was one of those. He ordered me to enter an essay contest which I won. The prize was that I was featured for 30 minutes on TV with a bunch of NY politicians in Washington, D.C. Boosted by the confidence of my admired teacher, I held my own in that terrifying situation, flying back home a foot taller.

The upshot of all that is that I became reliant on others, on outside validation (or disapproval) and direction. I didn't even receive much, if any, direction from my own family. My mother heaved one huge sigh of relief when I first walked through the doors of Lincoln Elementary, considering her work finished forever. I looked to Miss Bitchard for my self-definition.

This is definitely a feature of my current life. Just today I was asking TA if I should sell my house and move closer to downtown. This is a question that most functional adults can answer for themselves, I presume. Not I.

If called upon to identify my main shortcoming today, that would be it, I think- the tendency to look outside myself for direction and even validation. (Fellow bloggers- that means I rely on your comments! Keep 'em coming!)


garnet david said...

B- Just by writing this, you are guiding yourself. Keep writing. We rely on ourselves as we rely on each other. It is the same. We move en masse. Hobbling together. Voices emerge, then recede. Listen, watch, trust, repeat.

Betty said...

Garnet, thank you for humoring me once again as I attempt to distill my life into its bare essence.

garnet david said...

You do not attempt. You distill perfumes daily from weeds. The essence is not bare, it's florid and rich.