The Battle With the Self

I can’t possibly imagine what this battle is really about. I can, I mean, I can imagine because I have imagined for many years now—that is to say I have spent a lot of time and psychic energy trying to figure out this writing thing. Not figure it out like “be a good writer;” I write in my own voice (when I can trick myself into writing) and in my own DIY genre based on self-evisceration and public narcissism (cringe-worthy, I’m sure, to all who actually know me).
I have the Nordic rune Teiwaz tattooed on my right wrist over the scars from where I slit my wrists when I was 23. The left wrist has the semi-colon which has come to be a symbol for survivors of, and those who have been affected by suicide. Teiwaz is the “Rune of the Warrior” and is associated with the god Týr for whom Tuesday was named. The story of Týr says that when the wolf Fenrir was only a pup, the gods feared for their lives because he was growing so fast. They came with a chain to to bind him but he recoiled and said he would only let them place it on him if someone would place their right arm in his mouth as an act of good faith.  Týr was the only one willing. He offered his right arm. When Fenrir discovered he could not break free, he bit off Týr’s arm. This mutilation mirrors that of Odin’s sacrificed eye, both in service to knowledge and selfless service, and to the pursuit of a spiritual path.
I have the rune tattoo to remind me of the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of others but also to remind me that the battle of the Spiritual Warrior is always with the self.
The demonstration of this battle has manifested itself over and over throughout the years as I have tried to force myself to write and learn what makes it so very hard to do so. My idea of re-launching the blog was simply to try to get me back into regular and close association with The Page. In my fantasy I would lay out what I planned to do in the coming year to get my goals achieve starting by listing again what exactly that is. It’s been a while since I did that. I’d list action items under each goal and use the blog as a point of accountability. If I found that the actions I was taking toward mission accomplishment weren’t working, I’d regroup, reassess, tweak or change the battle plan and attack again until the goal was achieved. Sounds great, right? But what happens instead is that I have all these things I want to talk about, some personal, some political, some philosophical. I have the wild crazy life and I find it so interesting that I want to share it with others. And I want to change the world. If my mother said it once, she said it a thousand times, “Jeffrey, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, you want to change the world!” She meant it as an admonition but do you know what? She was right. I do want to change the world. There’s a lot that needs changing in the world and I’m running out of time.
Back to the battle of the page. I will win this. I’ve  self analyzed, talked with friends about it, sought professional help; I went to Colombia to do an Ayahuasca ceremony with and Indigenous Shaman from the Amazon jungle, ran naked through the woods with a bunch of other men trying to sort out our shit, joined churches and meditation groups, done yoga, prayed in the Native way, been sober, been not-sober, sought help from a mentor and a coach. Here’s what I’ve come up with regarding why it is so very hard for me to sit down and do that which I feel I was sent here to do, tell stories. If I could just walk away and do something different, I would.  But as hokey as it sounds, I actually do think I was called to write. So why don’t I? Here are some possibilities:

1) Maybe I’m just fucking lazy. Writing is hard. Lots of people say they want to do it but very few actually do. People try to tell me the stories they want to write and I only feign interest because I know they’ll never get written. Telling them with the mouth negates the need to tell them with the quill, at least for me. Perhaps it’s just an issue of immaturity and I’m just lazy.

2) It could be pain avoidance. At times, writing can be sublime and when it flows, and sometimes, when it comes, it really does flow. But I’m deeply bored by “good” writing that does not come from the heart. If I hope to hit the heart, I have to speak from the heart. Good Art, in my estimation, is created when the artist is willing to do a sort of emotional disembowelment letting all their “guts” spill out onto a silver tray (or a stage or a screen or an iPhone) for anyone who is willing to pause to look can see, see, actually, the artist’s soul. Some of that is painful. I have a huge physical pain tolerance but apparently that doesn’t extent to my head.  I’ve never been a big fan of emotional pain and I’ve had my share. Maybe I’m just avoiding pain.

3) I resist authority. I wondered for years why that was the case until finally the penny dropped. Every single time in my life someone or some institution has had power over me, I have gotten hurt. I was physically abused as a child, molested as a 12 year-old, and sexually harassed as a college student. In each case, a system or individual who was put in place to guide and protect me ended up hurting be very badly. Ultimately I put my life in the hands of US Government and that was my ticket to an illegal and immoral war. It makes sense why so many people who were abused as children ultimately find their way into the military. So when any authority figure tells me what I “should” do, I generally now run in the opposite direction. Even when I’ve become the one in charge, “You know Jeff, if you really want to see these things come to fruition you’ll A, B, C, D. and let me tell you I can’t wait to go X, Y, Z instead. If there’s something I’m “supposed” to do, it’s like negotiating with a mule to get it done. Anyone who knows me well will tell you this is true. It’s not my fault really. I’m biochemically wired that way. I’m biochemically wired that way because I got hurt, in some cases really badly.  I’m trying hard, I really am. Maybe I don’t write because I resist authority.

4) Maybe I’m trying to punish myself. Maybe on some deep level, I don’t think I deserve to achieve my goals and dreams. I’ve known Black people who held the most racist ideas about Black people. I’ve known women who could go toe-to-toe with the most egregious male chauvinist when it comes to misogyny, I’ve know queer folk who have been as homophobic as any Republican you’ve ever met. These social diseases of the mind are contagious but, guess what, no one is born infected. If you grow up where it’s raining frogs, you’re gonna get a tadpole or two tangled up in your hair. Maybe I believed what “they” told me about gay folks. I did grow up in a culture that told me my authentic self was “an abomination to God.” It’s impossible to hear that shit over and over during one’s developmental stages and come away unscathed.  Maybe on some level I think I’m supposed to suffer. Maybe it’s me doing the punishing.

There are other hypotheses I’ve formulated over the years, some hold more water than others, each seems more viable one one time over the others; most likely it is a —

Southerners are getting played like fiddles by this King of the Carpetbaggers. There was a time you could count on Dixie to have blanket contempt for Yankee, braggadocios, vulgar, whore-mongering, lying, narcissistic, sociopaths but it seems those days are Gone with the Wind.

I may have been nothing. I may have been nothing, meant nothing to anyone.
Tonight, after three days of trying to say something meaningful to somebody I have posted a blog.

 

 


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