How to Reclaim Yourself
“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.”
― Audrey Hepburn
Sometimes I think there’s an order to this chaos…
Sometimes I think there isn’t.
Catch me on a day when I think there is and I can probably make you feel good about all the bad which has happened and is happening in life. I can take your crazy and make it less crazy, depending on the story I can make the insane seem in sane.
A skill which I learned fairly early on in life was make sense out of nonsense. Bring order to chaos. I was required to make excuses for the mistakes, failings, lies, delusions… the crazy of others… on a regular basis.
Making excuses involves explaining something from a different perspective, seeing the positive potential held within an apparent negative. I got very good at doing this, so good at doing it that I lost myself, lost my perspective on being anything or anyone other than something or someone designed to serve others when they needed my services.
It’s a long and sometimes very boring story which I’ve told many times from a variety of angles.
Another thing I learned a little bit later than fairly early on in life is that one skill leads to another or the need to learn another to make up for the shortcomings and consequences of the previous skill.
“We are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna
Catch me on a day when I don’t think there is an order to chaos and you’ll most likely wish you hadn’t caught me on that day. What is wrong with me, why am I not being the person you thought I was. Have I deceived you or have you deceived yourself about me… chaos may ensue.
I usually try to avoid people on days when I don’t feel like making sense out of nonsense, when I don’t have the energy to find the positive in the negative, when I feel crazier than all the crazy I’ve met and made seem less crazy, when I don’t care if chaos has an order or not, when I have no excuses to give someone who wants them for whatever they want them for… I do have explanations but they are not ones you’ll want to hear.
Strangely enough it’s on those days when I reclaim myself.
Why is it strange?
Because most often when I’m at my least lost is when others think I’m at my most lost…
They see things from their perspective rather than mine (as we all tend to do with others) and they may believe that I am lost to them (which I am on those days as I’m focusing my attention on myself and not on them – I’m not in service), or they may judge me based on themselves (a skill which may yield accuracy or may not… depending on factors which may or may not get factored in, and parameters used, such as personal bias, and faulty logic postulated on imperfect data collection*).
When you learn a new skill it can be awesome in all meanings of the word.
First it requires of you that you take a terrifying leap into admitting the unknown exists – that you don’t know something, don’t know how to do something, and that scares you.
Even though you may be skilled up the wazoo on all sorts of matters, life always finds a way of throwing something at you for which you lack the required ability and knowledge… you’re back to square one – a baby faced with learning how to walk and talk.
There’s this thing in front of you, call it a challenge, that you have no idea how to handle because you’ve never needed to learn how to deal with it before. Now you do. And somehow everything you have dealt with before is useless when faced with this, the skills and knowledge which you are certain of having may even be making things harder.
“While we cannot live without history, we need not live within it either.”
― Amartya Sen
Perhaps you look around you for someone to handle this thing for you.
Maybe you find someone who says they can do it… at a price. You’re going to owe them, but you don’t mind about the price (unless it’s too much and then you do mind very much for many reasons – if you can’t pay it then you’ll have to find someone else to do this thing for you, or you may have to learn how to do this thing yourself… but you don’t want to do it yourself because that terrifies you), you’re just relieved that someone says they know how to fix your problem for you. You can hand the challenge over to them and they’ll meet it for you, sort it out and then hand the result and ensuing rewards over to you.
But people say a lot of things… and they don’t always mean what they say, or they mean it but they can’t actually do what they think and say they can do. Yet you won’t know that they can’t do it and don’t know how to do it because you don’t know what that kind of knowing looks like.
You may have an image in your mind of what it should look like… but looks can be deceiving, especially when their appearance is inspired by imagination, hope, desire, fantasy.
Even if you manage to find someone who genuinely has the skill you need to help you out with a challenge, at some point you’re still going to have to engage personally in understanding this unknown.
You need to reclaim yourself from the wreckage of not having known something, of not having a necessary skill (which made all your other skills seem unnecessary), of not being who you wished you had been, and for things being chaotic rather than orderly (or at least your version of order which made you see something else as chaos).
How do you do that?
Bit by bit.
“Inch by inch I conquered the inner terrain I was born with. Bit by bit I reclaimed the swamp in which I’d languished. I gave birth to my infinite being, but I had to wrench myself out of me with forceps.”
― Fernando Pessoa
The other day I visited a local reclamation yard – where old things go to die, be lost, be found, live again.
As I wandered around the bits and pieces, old treasures which at the moment looked like junk (but were waiting to be treasured once again), piled randomly, sometimes as high as the buildings in which they once lived and of which they were an essential part… I got distracted from my actual quest – which was to find vents to place in the plasterboard walls that are covering the actual walls of my house so that the walls behind walls could breathe and not suffocate thus causing the structure to eventually crumble and collapse – this is a short term solution offered by an expert on such matters. He also advised a much more drastic long term solution for which I will need to learn many new skills, and work with people who already have those skills.
One of the things this expert said while examining my house and diagnosing its problems was – It’s a pity you didn’t buy this house before it was ‘fixed’ up by the previous owner.
That kind of thinking… is how to bring chaos to order and lose yourself in an ocean of unclaimed parts.
That kind of thinking is similar to – It’s a pity that I’ve lived the life which I have lived, that I didn’t get to myself before others screwed me up and damaged me while they were fixing me up to suit their vision of who I should be according to their version of themselves and who they needed around them to maintain that.
As I lost myself in a sea of unclaimed parts which were waiting to be claimed…
I was reminded of a scene from a TV show where a young woman who had been violated was taken through a ritual to call herself back to herself. The ritual didn’t work because she did not believe in it, she was doing this because others needed her to do it for them – they felt helpless to help her and needed her to help them feel less helpless.
They were trying to bring order to chaos, while she lived chaos and saw no order to it. Their attempts to order her chaos was just more chaos to her, more of the same even if it tried to look different.
She eventually found her own way of helping herself.
That’s how and when we reclaim ourselves.
“Don’t you think scars make better stories than tattoos?”
― Craig Johnson