What Are You Searching For?

It’s Mystery Week here at Dignitary’s Retreat: this week we’ll be examining mysteries within and without, so put on your best sleuthing cap and let’s start putting the pieces together! As regular DR readers understand, re-booting is all about solving some sort of puzzle in our lives, whether it’s a conundrum within ourselves or finding a better, more effective strategy to understanding those around us. The yearning to uncover, to know, to comprehend is a universal one, but pursuit of the answer can feel so terrifying, confusing, or burdensome that many adults simply shut down that line of inquiry.

What part of yourself are you afraid to acknowledge?

The thing about our personal, private mysteries is that they aren’t entirely unknown to us—we’re simply dreading finding confirmation of what we suspect. For instance, I like to think of myself as a fairly conventional person who enjoys schedules, predictability, and fitting in with the herd. This sort of group identity feels very reassuring to me and I stare in envious wonder at the mass of humanity who enjoy this sort of solidarity. Except, underneath my Regular Jane longings, exists an enormous risk taker who has stridently marched off in the opposite direction for most of her adult life, taking me kicking and screaming with her. She really is an enormously inconvenient person, and I can’t figure out why she insists on being so stubborn.

Alas, this indwelling rebel has staged a coup in my life over the past few years and appears to have no intention of letting her control slip. Believe me, I have tried hard to convince her to heel. She’s obstinate and ornery and doesn’t give a fig about my preferences. (We argue about this a lot.) What a pain. My point in sharing this with you is to demonstrate how this part of myself that I don’t fully understand is not entirely unknown to me. Though loathe to admit it, I know I’m a risk taker; I have been for a long, long time. I like exploring new territory, heading off in a different direction, thinking on my feet, and the thrill of crossing the line—you’d never know it looking at me

So, now let’s focus on you. What furtive part of yourself exists within? What part of you bobs and weaves inside? What does this hidden part compel you to do, however contrary to your regular existence or persona? Like me, you may not entirely understand this part of yourself, but you reluctantly accept the fact that these different elements occupy the same real estate.

In the privacy of your own mind, who is this mysterious person inside of you? Does thinking about it make you feel uneasy? Why?

What I am exploring has little to do with hypocrisy. As Shakespeare pointed out so many times, we humans are contradictory creatures. We want and don’t want. We long for predictability and acceptance while craving adventure and risk. The allure of the forbidden should not be underestimated—in any arena of life.

Is any part of what I’m saying making sense?

Life is complicated. We’re continually confronted with diverging paths, forks in the road which lead to entirely different destinations, and not all of us are clear which way we want to go, what our real priority is. And then, one day, we impulsively do something (seemingly) random that doesn’t fit with any of the things we say we want or value! We confuse ourselves while desperately trying to maintain a predictable presence for those around us. Don’t forget: the purpose of re-booting is to get a more full-bodied and honest idea of who we are and what we want beyond the superficial circumstances of our lives. Our contradictory thoughts and actions reveal more about who we are than we realize.

So, let me ask you again: what part of yourself do you know exists but you’re a little intimidated by? Under the still water that makes up your public persona, is this mysterious current flowing strongly? Is it responsible for some of your impulsive acts? Well, is it?

Uncovering the mystery that is ourselves is core to the re-booting process. You’re not an open book; none of us is, but it serves us well to try to pry open more of who we are beneath the cover. The truth is, we cannot hide from ourselves, no matter how hard we try. In order to make the best decisions for us and for those close to us, we have to know who we’re dealing with. But the more we acknowledge, the better our chances of reaching a place in our lives where things begin to fit better than they do today. And isn’t that why you’re interested in re-booting to begin with?

Today’s homework assignment: spend a few quiet moments allowing that inconvenient part of yourself to speak. Don’t run away from it. Don’t pretend it isn’t there. Try turning that page.

Turning the page

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