So, instead of rewriting that inspirational piece I crafted and subsequently lost, I will go in another direction:
What happens when you wake up one day and realize that you lied to yourself for so long you don't even remember doing it? It can be about something big, like a relationship or a job, or something less important, like believing yourself to be a great athlete when you can't throw straight, or thinking you have other talents or skills you simply don't have...but BELIEVE you do (much to the chagrin of others...).
Kind of scary to think about, isn't it? One day this month, or maybe it was sometime in February, I sort of woke up to a similar reality--one where I recognized that a significant part of my life was nothing more than a deception. It's very difficult to reimagine your life once you're in a kind of pattern of comfort and familiarity. Maybe you've lived in the same house or apartment for decades; maybe you like to go to the same grocery, the same post office, dry cleaner, or restaurants because you know the people there and it's just easy to run in and do what you have to do. We all have our own comfort zones; when in your own "wheelhouse," no matter what is wrong with your life, with your work, or with your relationships--things just FEEL better. Unfortunately, we construct these "wheelhouses" as an unwitting (in most cases) illusion. It's actually a very proactive thing to do--create a safe place for yourself to regroup, where stress is minimized and you can refresh before facing the world again. But what happens when we let these constructs, these comfort zones, go too far? What happens when we do remember the truth???
I'm not sure I know yet. Do you stop living the comfortable lie, or do you bravely go where your feet have yet to take you? There's a great deal of this type of duplicity in the human condition. Sometimes we call it "compromise," other times it's referred to as "selling yourself short."
I'm guilty of often selling myself short; and I generally don't lack confidence--it's really not that. For me, it's about facilitating others--when I examine my duplicitous state, it's with the recognition that I chose to make compromises where I don't use my full potential so I can help others. This doesn't sound like a bad thing--unless you've been doing it for a very long time and wake up one day, very unhappy, with the least relevant question in the history of humanity on your lips: WHY?
I call it the least relevant question because, whenever we ask it, we almost ALWAYS already know the answer. It just makes us FEEL better to say it out loud.
I knew why I woke up with "why?" on my lips recently. I even knew HOW to solve the apparent duplicity. But the resolution would take me far afield from my comfort zone. In fact, there would be nothing comfortable about it at all.
So now what? THAT is the real question. You see the illusion you created for whatever your reason; you recognize that it has contributed to your unhappiness. But even in that recognition, perhaps some good has come out of out it--maybe not just some good, a lot of good. More duplicity. More compromise.
I used to lecture about Joseph Campbell in the classroom, particularly in relation to heroes in our popular culture. Campbell believed that to truly be the "Master of Two Worlds," a hero had to TRANSCEND the apparent duality (good v. evil, etc.) by finding the underlying singularity (the connection betwen the two dualing sides)--kind of like in quantum physics, where two different particles (the duality) come together in an entaglement (the underlying singularity) and you can no longer tell one differing particle from another. Or perhaps with Passover and Easter here this week, we can use the theological example of the body and the soul (the duality), connected by the underlying singularity, God.
Whatever the duality is in your life, by seeking the underlying singularity, you may find that you are comfortable with duplicity, mastering your two worlds--whatever they are; OR, you may choose to begin what Campbell called a "trial," where the hero must face difficulties, at the end of which, the hero moves closer to transcending her duality.
Trials are hard--they involve things like being in the "Belly of the Whale" and "Ritual Death and Dismemberment." Some of us "heroes" have faced SO MANY trials already, that when faced with the trial of duplicity, it seems incredibly daunting.
We're all the heroes in our own life stories. There's no right answer to the problem of duplicity in our lives. Compromise is necessary to keep our jobs, to get along with others, to live life in a way that allows for small spaces of joy to be captured in moments like a beach vacation, or buying that motorcycle you've always wanted, or taking a cooking class, or buying yourself a canoe--those things that help you to enjoy your life of duplicity, the things that we convince ourselves make the compromises worth it.
I guess I'm now wondering if it is--worth it. In the meantime, we keep moving forward, keep making strides to improve our lives. This week, I learned several new things to honor the new week--including the Kaballistic tradition surrounding the symbolism of the Tree of Life, learning a few new recipes, and beginning to learn how to recite the Rosary in honor of my late grandmother, Mary Conley Thomas. Unfortunately, I did not stick to my writing schedule; it's Passover and being a multicultural household, cooking food from scratch for almost EVERY meal for the last five days has taken a tremendous amount of time. It makes me believe that the women of the early twentieth century and all the centuries that came before it, were total WONDER WOMEN!
Good luck on your continuing journey...until next time!