Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Whose In Charge?


I keep waiting for my guest to go, but nearly six weeks later, there’s no sign of him leaving the house. He’s eating up all my thoughts, putting his dirty feet on my furniture and every time he’s around, my heart starts pounding in a way that’s making me nervous— this can’t be good for me. If it happens just before bed, I know I’m in for it, jolted awake by my guest’s loud music at 2:30 in the morning.

At the same time that I’m fed up with him, I’m fascinated by this heart-pounding signal. It’s a surefire sign that he’s telling me something profound that I need to pay attention to. It’s entirely out of my “executive function” control. I can’t will it away with rational thought, subdue it with meditation, step to the side of it with Scarlatti on the piano, send it away with wine, whiskey or other substances (none of which I partake of anyway). It helps a little to walk and ride my bike, but not much— he’s right there with me every step and wheel turn.

You know the fairy tales when the evil person dumps a bunch of seeds on the ground and says, “Sort these before morning or else” ? This guest is a seed-sorter and writing, writing, writing helps a little bit. Talking helps as well. But the guest won’t leave until he dances with the right people and if they aren’t following the steps, he sits in the corner and waits. Eating all my food.

If wine doesn’t help, neither does whining and in the midst of pain and suffering, I’m fascinated by these bodily signals (heart-pounding) that have their own wisdom and agenda. We have this illusion that our rational minds are in charge, but the Gnostics, Freud and others suggest that there are many voices conversing in our heads and hearts and Mr. Executive isn’t always the one to pay attention to. Ah, there’s a seed-sorting. Which voice is worthy of our attention and when and how much? If you have an answer, drop me a line. Meanwhile, be still, my beating heart. 

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