By Christine Ford
Warning! Proceed with caution! Right now, my mindset is not in a very positive, integrative, nor even close to an equilibrated state. Trying to think of a topic to write an article on for this Edition of Spiritual Climate was exhausting! As I pondered and questioned which way to go, random lyrics from an old song (Both Sides Now) kept spinning around in the mix; you know how that works? A few words here, snippets there; it wasn’t until I had completed the article that enough of the song surfaced in my conscious awareness to recognize it as Both Sides, Now by Joni Mitchell from way back in the late 60’s. The lyrics, the words, to Both Sides, Now defined that which I was experiencing in a way that only old memories, brought to the surface by a determined Subconsciousness, can provide. Even more astounding to me was that Dr. Strickler had chosen the most outstandingly appropriate picture to go with my article before I named it! Thankfully, I will never cease to be amazed by these experiences!
Confronted by attempting to select a topic for my article was not, however, the only process that I have recently found to be exhausting. Getting up and going to work each day is exhausting. Dealing with disrespectful students and sometimes peers is exhausting. Keeping up with the overwhelming demands of documentation that my position requires is exhausting. Going grocery shopping and having to deal with the insanity/ignorance of the general public, be it shoppers, clerks or cashiers, is exhausting. Just getting my shit together, making an appointment and going to get my taxes done is exhausting! Simply reading and hearing about the craziness of the milieu, the stupidity of the general public as Trump skyrockets and the Republican Party hints at blaming President Obama for their collapse is not only exhausting, but disgusting! And speaking of disgusting, I have an enormous list of those, but for now, let’s not get too complicated and just stick to the aforementioned “exhaustings”. I think you get the idea; the simple fact is that I am reacting to my experience of events and people outside of the sanctity of our home as exhausting and that I have made the choice to give it that kind of control is rather confusing, as well as distressing to me.
In checking out the definition of exhausting, as that just seems to be the word to sum it all up, according to Dictionary.com the definitions are right there in line with what my Ego, personality and body are currently experiencing.
Exhausting [ig-zaw-sting]: adjective, producing or tending to produce fatigue, weariness, or the like: an exhausting day; an exhausting child.
Exhaust [ig-zawst]: verb (used with object) to drain of strength or energy, wear out, or fatigue greatly, as a person: I have exhausted myself working. 2) to use up or consume completely; expend the whole of: He exhausted a fortune in stock-market speculation. 3) to draw out all that is essential in (a subject, topic, etc.); treat or study thoroughly. 4) to empty by drawing out the contents: to exhaust a tank of fuel oil. 5) to create a vacuum in. 6) to draw out or drain off completely. 7) to deprive wholly of useful or essential properties, possessions, resources, etc.
Yes! There it is in black and white! The experience I am having is one of feeling fatigued, weary, drained of strength and energy, used up, and consumed. I find myself arguing with myself in regards to experiencing so many events and people as exhausting; I remember a time when I could take such events and persons in stride and concoct a bright side of situations, no matter how bleak they appeared to be. I could easily plod along with a smile plastered on my face and a song in my heart, knowing that this too would pass, and the calm would come again; the veil would lift and for at least an indeterminable amount of time, I would have the desire and strength to meet the demands of the outside world and carry on. I could ignore the bad and the ugly, and concentrate on the good! I was only looking at half the picture, but what the Hell? It worked! Sure, daily demands and situations may have been trying and draining, but never was the feeling of exhaustion so overwhelmingly the emotion that I felt.
Ah-ha! Perhaps there is part of my answer! As my self-talk reveals to myself that I am not referring exclusively to physical exhaustion, as one might surmise with the given age of my body, but more in the line of emotional exhaustion as well! Perhaps therein lies a subtle difference and a clue to this dilemma! Yes, physical fatigue is a part of my experience; admittedly, these old bones aren’t as young as they used to be. Dealing with the aches and pains of a body that just ain’t in its prime comes into play, but not exclusively for this article. Instead, as has just been my discovery, this process that so disturbs me at the present time also has a predominant emotional aspect to it.
I am, I know and am certain, on a Spiritual Path. Being an Adept, I should be better than this; I should be able to rise above it, look around, and just accept the state of affairs as what is. In searching for an answer as to why I allow myself to be made so weary by the mainstream chaos that seems to surround me when I move out into the “real world” (tongue in cheek and chuckle totally intended), I need to ask why am I so thrown out of kilter, why do I seemingly lack the balance and stamina that I see exhibited by those around me who think the Great Work is a job that pays over $100,000 a year? What the Hell do I think I am doing?
As I read again the definitions above, I find I have missed a clue to what might also be at work here. When I begin to look further down the definition of exhausted as all that is essential has been drawn out, empty; as if a vacuum has been created there is a sudden stirring within that part of me that I have come to recognize as the real Me, the part that is eternal, wise and strong, exhaustlessly limitless! My True Self perks up and starts clapping its hands, remembering what Dr. Strickler has pointed out is the significance of an empty space, a vacuum. There is a need for that space to be filled; the question to always hold in highest regard, however, is being discriminating to the utmost degree as to what you make the choice to fill that empty space with.
All of life, whether one is on the Path of Return or the Path to being the very best asshole he/she can be, is composed of ebbs and flows, cycles, ups and downs, highs and lows. The secret is to find the point of equilibrium, the point of centeredness, where there is just the right mix of exhaustion and exhilaration. My error, in looking back over the discovery process that has been shared is pretty much summed up in my thinking in the erroneous statement that I made previously; “Being an Adept, I should be better than this; I should be able to rise above it, look around, and just accept the state of affairs as what is.” How arrogant, how ignorant and egotistical is that statement? Do I think I am God? Can I really do anything to change the experiences and events I must participate in if I am living in this negative plane of existence? Hell no! Can I totally ignore them and pretend they just aren’t there? Hell no to that as well. Either of those is a form of lying to myself and an extreme, out of balance statement.
What I can and will do is choose to make a conscious choice to fill that emptiness; my choice is to do the best I can as an Adept and a human being to help when I can, to make comments when they seem appropriate, to ask questions, to be mindful of experiences and events around me, but to let go of whatever control I falsely surmised I had over the resulting outcomes when other is involved.
The only world I can save is my own. I have said these words before, shared them with others, actually, repeated them ad nauseum, but now they have truly taken on a new meaning for me. I am not God, I am not all powerful; but I am able to look at both sides now. I will make choices for myself, and use that power of choice to fill that empty space with a renewed understanding and dedication to fulfilling the desires and direction of my Soul’s purpose.
Statement 4 of the wisdom of The Pattern on the Trestleboard reminds me that the Truth about the Self is that the Limitless Substance from which I draw all things, both spiritual and material is exhaustless; it is not my Soul and Spirit that suffers from the “exhausting” experiences, but the personality, ego and body through which I function and express in this physical plane. I did not come to this discovery on my own, but through dialogue and table-talk with Dr. Strickler and the members of our group that I have had the chance to walk with thus far. Though this process may be uncomfortable, always, in the final analysis, it is worth the tears, confusion, embarrassment, and sometimes shame felt as one becomes brave enough to speak the words needed to uncover the truth of the matter at hand.
May you find the desire and strength to look at both sides as you explore the idiot areas of your psyche and the ability to be honest with yourself and those around you.
Editor, Spiritual Climate Newsletter
Copyright © 2016 by Institute of Spiritual Climate LLC
— the End of April 2016 Spiritual Climate Newsletter —