Becoming conscious means changing the rules by which we live and the beliefs we maintain. Our memories and attitudes are literally rules that determine the quality of life as well as the strength of our bonds with others. Always, a shift in awareness includes a period of isolation and loneliness as one gets accustomed to the new level of truth. And then, always, new companions are found. No one is left alone for long. – Carolyn Myss, from her book Anatomy of the Spirit.
I will turn 41 in two more days – old enough that I am starting to see things weaken like eyesight yet young enough to realize that my life is now half over and I get to spend the rest of it actually doing whatever the hell I desire. I am no longer afraid of surviving – I know from enough painful experiences that I have what it takes.
There’s something curious that happens when you age. You stop caring about pleasing everyone. You stop caring what people think of you. You start to shed friends who are no longer good for you and love the ones who are deeper than ever before. You start to demand the presence of adult conversations in your every interaction no longer equipped with the time or energy to waste time or energy. You stop contributing your presence to people or situations prone to drama, negativity and judgment in favor of those who actually show up, whom with you can embark on a mature and evolutionary relationship together. You start to grow a long and lean miraculous spine. You stop dancing all night in empty bars hopped on cocktails. You start running and doing yoga. You meditate daily. You start caring about other people in the world more than you care about the size of your paycheck. You stop taking jobs just to make money just to get by. You start to put all of your effort into doing what gives you joy with copious amounts of good blind trust. All of these things happen to you if you’re lucky and then you get to decide how you’re going to make the rest of your time here on this planet matter.
For the past nine months I have lived in a sort of silence—pulled myself out of the social whirl and onto a hill where the only person I see daily is my partner and the only things I commune with are the dandelion weeds and vegetables growing in the garden, the trees along my jogging path, the empty canvas and tubes of paint in my studio, the computer screen full of the words carving out my next book and the steep hiking trails that have born my feet daily in becoming this strong and graceful being in love with the natural world.
Self-imposed hermitude can be a scary thing. It’s full of the night’s blackness and loneliness but it’s in the clarity of that very darkness where you start to hear your true voice calling your name, the one which never left you but that has been hanging out in the bottom of your soul waiting for you to call it back. The one that came with you when you were born, the one that loved drawing on rocks and sewing random pieces of trash together and dancing behind your closet door for hours where no one else could see you. You remember that being and re-embrace her with all of your heart.
You realize that you’ve spent your whole life just trying to be seen but that now, after years devoted to healing and self-renewal, you just want to see. It doesn’t matter if someone hears what you have to say, reads what you have to write, or wants to buy what you have to paint—you are happy just doing it anyway. You’re content with that and you know it’s okay.
So you sit and you ruminate in the quiet some more. And as you sit you start to ignite with consciousness like you never have before because you realize that the only voice you hear is your own. There’s no denying it, there’s no mistrusting it because it’s loud and clear like a bell.
Down even deeper there’s a fire in your belly, rumbling away with its crackling flames. It’s the fire of communion and community –the one that knows you are part of a larger humanity. One that knows that humanity is so very fractured with people, all separated out into their circles of ideology, religion, creed, and cultural sociologies ranting and raving from their perspective pulpits. You love your family and friends with all your heart but you want to love the whole world too, and you want it to love you back. Not in an ego gratifying way but in a mutual way, where you all inherently understand that we are all here on this earth together and act accordingly. You’re tired of lines being drawn, boundaries that you are forbidden to cross, doors being closed between peoples who are only and simply different in externally important and non-essential ways.
You know if you close your eyes and start to dream you will look down upon yourself to see that the body is only falsely deluding you into believing we are all not one.
You know it’s important now to reach others beyond just your choir, to extend yourself out of your comfort zone and the people who surround you and speak the same language. It’s important to get off the computer, out of the isolated desk chair, and the spiderweb networked world of socially peripheral pinging tweets. That all has it’s time and place but now it’s time to go into the world, human to human, voice to voice. It’s time to meet people you may never have known, to meet people you may never have liked, to meet people who make you feel fear and anxiety and pleasure and delight and to connect with them face to face and share your stories while listening to theirs. It’s time to relate in the chaos, to embrace the polarities and blend each pair of opposites with authentic will, love and grace. It’s only when we embrace our dualities that we will find true integration of the human spirit and stop being so afraid of ourselves and each other, so utterly hopeless about our own future as a callous, consuming, uncaring and greed-fueled species. It’s only when we can look into the mirror, with compassion and humility at our own true ugliness that we can start the reparation process.
For the next half of my life, I’m committed to do the best I can and to live by example. Barriers need to be broken down; conversations need to take place. There is no more room for fake smiling in the grocery line at the person standing next you. A hello is now perpetually in order.
Article written by Kimberly Nichols
Newtopia managing editor KIMBERLY NICHOLS is author of the book of literary short fiction Mad Anatomy and as a conceptual artist has exhibited throughout California for the past decade. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines and media internationally. She was a founding editor of Newtopia in its former incarnation. She is currently at work on her novel King Neptune’s Journey. She has recently embarked on a journey of study in shamanic and medicine lore and wisdom under a series of respected teachers. Follow her on Twitter @LITGFOA or her arts and literature blog.