Giving Up My Safety in Obscurity

by Megan M. on July 15, 2009 (Blog) |

“Take yourself, for instance,” he went on saying. “Right now you don’t know whether you are coming or going. And that is so, because I have erased my personal history. I have, little by little, created a fog around me and my life. And now nobody knows for sure who I am or what I do.”

Reading Castaneda last night, I realized that this is what I’d done. It feels so good to know that no one can pin you down! You can do whatever you want, if you have the guts (and the stamina) to make it work. I was making it work. I was equal parts intensely proud of myself… and running myself into the ground. I didn’t want to give it up—I still don’t. But geeze, there will be more challenges. This isn’t the only hard thing I can do in my life. This isn’t the only place where I can persevere and prove myself.

Ooh-hoo, not a chance.

Navigating the Trenches

I’m visiting my parents in Youngstown this week, and I’ve been almost constantly conscious of the weird impulses I get just because I’m in an old, familiar place with old, familiar smells and the associated familial people behaving in familiar, familial ways. It’s reminding me of how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time. Obviously I’m not this person anymore. But who am I?

Damn good question.

Driving around town to go to lunch and pick my mother up from the airport I noticed that I vividly recalled every single spot where a car I was piloting had broken down. Here is where the drive shaft fell out of my Volvo on the highway. Here is where the copper-colored Ford LTD (that BOAT!) puttered out, thick white gouts of smoke streaming out behind. Here is where I hit the deer in the middle of the night, here is where I spun across the ice into a ditch. Here is where I bumped the curb and blew out a tire.

Such small memories, almost completely inconsequential to my life, and I remember them in perfect clarity. Almost certainly because my amygdala categorizes them as Dangerous and Worthy of Note, but still—interesting, isn’t it? And it reminds me how valuable it is to make a point of remembering good things. To stick them in our heads and repeat them like a mantra. To paste them on the walls, loop them in our iPods, write them in lipstick on mirrors. The good parts, what are the good parts? Otherwise, what do we remember about a place? The awful hammering we woke up to. The dust of construction. The friendships that fell out. The dog bites. The busted fingers. The bad sushi. Oh, the bad sushi. I’ve got some clarity on that one, I’ll tell you.

All those times the car broke down, that’s not my LIFE.

But that fact is still something I need to consciously remember.

Realizing That I’m Real

The real kicker, I’ve noticed, is to realize that there is a real core of me that isn’t affected by external pain. Although my body remembers the bad stuff, the bad stuff isn’t me. It’s a bizarre trap we all get sucked into, and, a la The Power of Now (which I’ve just started listening to and is probably going to be one of my Favorite Books Ever), I am currently all about reminding myself that there is a part of me that isn’t touched by any of it. Not even just a part—my whole real self. How’s that for metaphysical!

And along those lines, it’s my whole real self that is still me even if I can suddenly describe myself to someone who doesn’t know me. My whole real self is still me even if I decide to continue building a fog, obscuring or removing personal history in order to stay “safe”. Safety doesn’t make a difference to that core Megan, anyway. Safety is overrated.

I’d rather live a brilliant, meaningful life than just be safe.

And so I took the fog away.

It’s getting clearer all the time!

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