Originally written Dec.2, 2012
I just watched Eat, Pray, Love. Julia is one of my faves. Not sure how I feel about the movie though. It was cheesy and predictable, a meditation on the privilege to take time for self-discovery. Yet I also ache for a similar journey to get free of myself, to forgive myself. And to travel to India, Bali, Italy would be so delicious. I felt watching it that I was looking into a mirror, a bit embarrassed by what kind of clichés I saw looking back. Has my interesting life, my many spiritual, travel and life moments just been a broken record? Too add insult to injury, I am reading Bright Sided at A’s request, a highly researched and scorching book about how the “positive thinking” movement is destroying America. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, pokes holes in the positive psychology movement and in many of my cherished “wisdoms” like “possibility thinking”, “manifesting desires”, and the "law of attraction". She agrees that being positive does tend to make you more successful and make people like you more. That’s about the biggest concession she’s given. It doesn't necessarily make you happier, healthier, live longer or cure illness. I can’t say I have changed my mind on these issues, but I have paused for sure when wondering if “things happen for a reason” or whether I will “jinx” things by thinking a certain way.
All this to say I feel like part of my rug is being pulled out from under me, and perhaps for the best. That my eyes are opening more and more to the present, to what makes up my core line of thinking (and the impact thereof). It is very uncomfortable for me to experience this kind of scrutiny, much as I claim to love “feedback”. I usually expect feedback to be good, so what’s to fear? I aim high, so if I can improve, please let me know! In Eat, Pray, Love Julia’s character says something about how if we can forgive ourselves for our "harder to love" qualities and actions, the truth of who we are will come through. No doubt easier said than done. And that relates to something else: I think my greatest fear is myself, my dark side, what I might miss or fail to prevent, especially as it relates to Ben. Coupled with that is fear of loss of Ben and A. Not so much in that daily way of worrying about their welfare and safety, although those are part of it. What is more truly a “fear”, the kind that paralyses with terror, is that it could somehow be my fault through some missed detail, some inattention, some lapse in judgement/ exhaustion/ etc. That my lifeline of holding onto what is positive negates the essential need to pay attention to life’s darker sides, and worse, my own. Admitting to her existence, to my fierce (but quickly fizzled) temper, my ugliness when exhausted, my resentment. That sometimes in the moment, I just don’t care. That I often judge others, especially A, and that I can act so superior. I am nowhere near enlightenment, nor “free of myself” such as is the aim of meditation, nor “smiling with my liver” like the guru in the movie. I am a flawed human like any other, un-peeling ever deeper layers of self-knowledge, some of them still quite raw.