exposure, grief & integration

It began to dawn on me late last year, that I had changed ‘spiritually’ again – that in the way one’s palate develops with age, I had begun to crave new flavors of life, or more sophisticated blends of the flavors I’d been drawn to before.

Vegetable Paella
(Food Network)

As with food, this often means working with contradictory ingredients to discover the new. An intuitive chef begins to know how ingredients are brought forth or subdued by context, and is able to flow with that knowledge to great effect!

That’s the upside. The downside is that it can be super confusing too, and one can make ruinous mistakes. When holding tightly to what one has already learned about what the ingredients mean and are supposed to do, it is hard to be experimental without feeling wasteful.

—– Once, someone threw a surprise party for me. They brought together people from my family, my hometown, then church and work place, to celebrate my, if I remember right, 24th year of life. It is hard to remember right, because I spent the entire evening in a haze, completely overwhelmed by disharmony reflected back at me, suddenly aware of the many selves I’d constructed and the many walled off lives I’d been leading.

Each person seemed to see a different me, and I wanted not to disappoint any of them! Afterward, I actually felt angry at the person who had gone to all the trouble. COULDN’T THEY SEE it would be a disaster? DIDN’T THEY KNOW me at all? Ever since then, I’ve been working on integration.

The truth is, it probably wasn’t a disaster. That sense of things was probably me amplifying every small confusion, which made it seem so. I just didn’t know how to facilitate the connections, or work with the chemistry of the situation to draw out the complimentary and complex flavors. Not in them, and certainly not in myself.

And, far too aware since childhood of undercurrents, I gave the many questions I sensed others asking, too great a spotlight, feeling responsible to answer each one fully in some way.

No wonder I burnt out.

There is a lot to see here, my experience as microcosm, about the dramatic change and sometimes really ugly process that our fragmented society is going through now. Social media (for one) has thrown everything in a big pile for us to sort out, revealing more than we ever wanted to know.

Now our personas beg to be opened up into more dimensions.

glittering mosaic shards with the appearance of glass
Image from JasonBrickhill.com

The hardest part so far? For me it has been accepting that my idols are imperfect (some are even sex offending monsters(!), and that emperors are not always duped. Some are actually proud of having no clothes, and delighted to have so much power they can make humiliated others join their farce.

Some idolize a more compartmentalized time when much more was hidden and controlled, but we can’t go backwards. There are also LOTS of reasons we should not want to.

In some ways I have to recognize fragments of myself out there, reflections of my own valuing and idolizing without question, and not wanting to know more. And I have to wish for their personas to be shattered to themselves as well, so the patterns don’t perpetuate indefinitely. [“me too”]


In relation to Shiva, she [Kali] appears to play the opposite role from that of Parvati. Parvati calms Shiva, counterbalancing his antisocial or destructive tendencies; she brings him within the sphere of domesticity and with her soft glances urges him to moderate the destructive aspects of his tandava dance. Kali is Shiva’s “other wife,” as it were, provoking him and encouraging him in his mad, antisocial, disruptive habits. It is never Kali who tames Shiva, but Shiva who must calm Kali.[11]

(Wikipedia), (image: Buddhagarden.com)

I think we have to find some way to recognize the expressions brought forth, without disconnecting from the reality that humanity is hecka-flawed. We have to appreciate what “sparks joy”, and keep a place for it, while exposing the rest. The time between exposure and letting go will be longer than sorting our sock drawers. It is a grief process.

Perhaps there is a next level to things where both the dark and light are held openly with ruthless compassion, rather than pretend forgiveness based on hierarchies (who has the power). If so, I wonder how long it will take us to get there.

Also, why have I been singing “Send in the Clowns”, since yesterday?


2 responses to “exposure, grief & integration”

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