The Thrill of "Aliveness, Per Se"
Monday, February 22
Foreword: I am not satisfied with this entry. There are too many words and the ideas are somewhat abstract. I include it in its raw form simply to share where Pat and I are in our emerging couplehood.
In our silent time preceding Pat’s and my daily morning sharing over coffee, my inquiry turned to experiencing pleasure in the NOW, loving what is in the NOW, no matter what the “what is” is that I am to love. I then inquired about what blocks my experiencing pleasure in the NOW per se, that is, what blocks my experiencing pleasure in the NOW independent of circumstances. Can I just enjoy the experience of being alive?
In our sharing time, Pat indicated she was also on this page, and had been reflecting on the pleasure of being alive. She asked herself, “What if I open to the pleasure of right now?” Pat said that she was restless during the night, her mental plate loaded with worry, and as a result, she awoke this morning with heaviness in her emotional body. Her mind was all over the ballpark – full of thinking, thinking, and more thinking.
Then, before her feet touched the ground, she paused and asked herself what would happen if she let all of that worry and thinking go. She thoughts to herself, “Here it is, Monday, 2/22/16. We have a full moon, it would have been Mom’s 94th birthday, We have our session with our couples counselors Sage and Anthony, and I can choose to be open to this day and all that it brings!
“It came to me yesterday,” Pat shared, “that you and I lead an unusual life, a precious life. It is useless to worry about how much longer we have.” She then shared that part of her angst last night was due to her reading yesterday a troubling article in the Modern Love part of the Sunday New York Times. The article was titled What “Husband” Means Now. It describes a couple, now in their sixties. Both had been divorced for decades. Then four years ago they met, fell in love, and married. They had wonderful and adventurous plans for their golden years. Then two years into the marriage, the husband developed a life-threatening pancreatic cancer condition. The article concerns how serious illness changed their relationship. It was obviously a gripping story, and one Pat could relate to as it applies to our situation in so many ways – the question of “How long do we have?”
To prepare for our 3:00 PM couples session with Sage and Anthony, we re-listened to the last fifteen minutes of our previous Sage and Anthony call (we are so glad we record these biweekly Skype calls and take the time to listen to each session at some point between sessions – and sometimes, like here, we listen to sections of a session twice).
Gary: From listening to this portion of our last session I recognize my great longing to be seen in my essence, as my authentic self, warts and all. This longing to be seen in part drives me to write my blog entries. In the session it related to a piece I wanted to share with them about where I was since our previous session — so much goes on between sessions.
Pat: What I realize is up for me in listening to the session is trust – not being able to trust you and other key players in my life is a major block. You could see that hypersensitivity from my anger at you when you came home from a friend’s house much later than I thought you would. Gary: Yes, I was shocked at your reaction, it was so unusual.
Pat: So we know these pieces in each other – you longing to be seen in your essence and me not trusting you and others. We can respect these parts in ourselves and in the other. Yet we dare not hold these parts in fixed ways – we realize we are growing “our young ones” up. You won’t be so “needing to be seen” and I won’t be so “hypersensitive about trusting.” But in the meantime we are accepting where each of us is, in our respective young ones, holding these growing ones in gentleness and love as they mature.
Gary: There is another aspect to my young one. In addition to screaming for attention to be seen in my essence, for example in writing my blog, I am also terrified that in revealing my authentic self I will either not be seen in my essence (i.e., no one reads or “gets” me in my blog sharing), or that I, being seen in my essence, will be dismissed or rejected. For example, I revealed some sensitive matters about myself in the piece of writing that I wanted to share with Sage and Anthony, and when I asked you to read it I felt “brutalized” when you criticized something I wrote that was self-revelatory.
And yet on the other hand, I do notice that there have been a few positive times in my life where I was seen in my essence and was received and encouraged. These were great times, and so unexpected (unexpected since I’m sure I shall be “brutalized”). I notice just how energizing such unexpected positive experiences have been. Pat: So you notice your delight when you are seen and respected for who you are! Gary: Absolutely. Every once in a while someone comments on my blog, they really “get” and even “respect” and “appreciate” what I share – my sense of who I am, complete with some of my assets as well as my human faults. They honor my openness, and I so appreciate that. So yes, I realize how much I delight in being seen. This is the flip side of my fear of being “brutalized” when I am seen. So there are both sides: the longing to be seen and accepted on the one hand and my fear of being “brutalized” when my real essence is seen on the other hand.
I also notice a third factor in this longing to be seen, and that is where my longing to be seen turns into a demand to be seen! That demand becomes both a forcing current with others, as well as part of my self-centeredness – emphasizing my separateness and feeding my lower-self pride and vanity.
From listening to our session I realize there is still another dimension of our relationship that came up in the session. It related again to my feeling “brutalized” by you when you criticized my writing. At one point in the session Anthony said that I perhaps participated in my experiencing your “brutalizing” me when you objected to what I was intending to reveal to Sage and Anthony before our call.
Anthony named this as my creating a constellation of brutalization in the field of us – in other words, my fear of being seen in my essence and then “brutalized” became an energy in the field of us of “fearing that I would be brutalized when seen in my essence.” So I put “brutalization” in the “field of us,” and this “attracted” brutalization from you, even if it was not your intention (and here it certainly was not your intention) to “brutalize” me. Because of my unconscious “invitation” to you to brutalize me, I was not really a victim of what I experienced as your brutalization but rather a cooperating energy that drew out your brutalization. Thus I manifested my own brutalization in the field of us.
So in part I have to overcome my inhibition to be seen in my essence, my inhibition to be seen as a “monk” or “armchair philosopher” on the one hand, and on the other hand to be seen with my human foibles, faults and weaknesses. And then I need to be self-aware enough of my immature “demanding to be seen” so that, with this awareness, I can smile at myself and not demand that you or others see and respect me as a monk or philosopher, albeit one with a list of human faults and weaknesses.
And further, again with awareness, if or when others do not see and respect me as a “merely human” monk or philosopher to not react with feelings of being brutalized by the other but rather consider that I may be helping to constellate brutalization in the field. And finally, with awareness, then being careful not to let that feeling of being “brutalized” lead to feelings of my worthlessness or rage – the “adding insult to injury” tendency in me. In short, there is a lot to be aware of here!
Pat: Just so you know, I quite like “the monk pouring over the Pathwork lectures” and “the armchair philosopher with ‘big ideas’ about Life, God, and the Cosmos.” From the beginning of our relationship 15 years ago, our interests in theology, philosophy, psychology, and the like have been our most immediate connecting points.
And I am now curious about who am I in relationship with you, that is who am I in relationship with this “merely human” monk, philosopher, and cosmologist. You experience wonder and awe at these streams of energy coming into you, and I can be in awe and wonder at the one who is experiencing awe and wonder. But who am I in this relationship?
I realize that the part of me that is filled with this awe and wonder at you the philosopher is so different from the part of me that is my essence. How can I find my essence and offer that to our relationship?
I so value our relating and connecting. Is that my essence, my offering? In each of us, then, there are streams of aliveness, and it is important that we are with those streams of aliveness.
These streams of aliveness (my longing to connect and your longing to be seen in your monk and philosopher self) got cut off so early in our lives. I just want to yell, “Lazarus, COME FORTH!” to both of us. You are calling yourself to come forth and I am calling myself to come forth. And we call each other to come forth! And the stream of aliveness in each of us is the Christ in each of us. We are “one with” THE Stream of Aliveness!
Gary: So beautifully said! I have always intuited that part of your stream of aliveness is in the love, emotional connection, and sexual arena – the arena of relationship and connection that I, too, so long for. So from the beginning of our relationship I was attracted to your longing for connection. Let me read aloud part of Lecture 44- The Forces of Love, Eros, and Sex that I just finished. I’ll read the pages where the Guide spells out the role of the woman being that of opening the world of feelings and emotions to the man as she seeks a deeper connection with the man (I read aloud Lecture 44 page 53 paragraph 35- page 61 paragraph 39).
Pat: Yes, as this lecture says, our roles go back and forth, first one leading and then the other leading. But then there is the matter of control!
Gary: Ah yes, control! This dance of connecting is about relinquishing control of ourselves and then opening to the spontaneity that lives each of us.
Pat: We are “teaching” our inner kids about living more spontaneously! I had a dream in the past week that fits. You and I were teaching a lot of children. It seemed like it was the end of the world, and you and I were the only adults remaining in the world. Our job was now to teach the children. I wasn’t sure what this dream was about at the time. Perhaps it was about you and me teaching our own inner kids!
As I listened to Adyashanti, these words floated up… It is OK to be with the fear of being my authentic self. In being with my fear, I experience “the thrill of aliveness per se!” I have the capacity to be silent in the fear. And in silence I begin to feel the aliveness per se. It seems that awareness of the aliveness per se, is deeper even than awareness of breath. Thus we ended where we began.
We would have our next session with Sage and Anthony that afternoon (Monday).
Shared in love, Gary