I despise cutesy titles like this but that's exactly what I'm going to talk about so I have to suffer through it.
You three loyal readers know that I've been working on what the aisle in the bookstore calls "self-improvement." Or more accurately, that wishing space where the habits and deficiencies of mind that afflict me might not be defects. For those of us who spend a lot of time conflicted about most things (Instant Oats! Steel-Cut Oats! Why Lord why?), the dingy fear is that it's us. It's not our training, not our biology, not some trauma. We are inadequate, broken or missing the original parts. Not a happy picture.
While I'm not going to ask you to invert your frown, I would like to take a moment to tell you, Billy Mays-style (no, not really) about a couple whispers that I've overheard. In a previous blog, I prattled on about how meditation had helped me understand the crazy device in my head known as my brain. That led to some half-baked ideas about changing my relationship to writing: Less force, more listening. Which lead to some half-baked ideas about changing my relationship to everything: Less force, more listening. The part of me who's watching my life's clock has been wondering whether the large investment that I'm made in selfish pursuits has been worthwhile or even makes sense. Nothing like reaching perfection then keeling over alone.
So I'm saying that it's worthwhile. I am not perfect and on some days I simply hang on. On most days, I am different than I was. In part because I have a new respect for what I used to ignore or browbeat into quiescence: whispers. Subtle little words, voices, pictures, acts where I seem to be telling myself something. It's a bit weird but I think ultimately sound.
For example, I've had this nagging suspicion that I've been missing something in my cognitive toolkit. It's not just a simple lacking feeling brought on by people thinking that I'm smart while I don't feel smart. As much as I am a self-deprecating fool, I do understand that I have some considerable skills, some abilities, some intelligences. It's the ease with which many folks understand and talk about complex processes. Recently I have had this little voice telling me that I was missing an ability that I thought was more hard-coded than learned. The voice has been saying, you just don't know how to do it. At some point, you'll identify it and figure out how to do it.
Thanks Voice! You da man! What nonsense.
That's been going on for about a year now. The kicker is that I now think that the voice is on the right track. I could spend A LOT of time describing the kind of thinking that I'm talking about and the cool evidence that backs me up. It's tied to the ability to comprehend complex information and process it verbally, logically. That's been nearly impossible for me. I see a path to that way of thinking now because I've been listening to that voice, that whisper and following it step by step. While the path might be revealed, I don't think that this will be an easy fix, but that's okay. I don't mind.
Little things like my decision to discontinue drawing or painting have their own internalized cartoon battle. This morning I was looking for a pen in my briefcase and found five art pencils and pens. How in the fuck did that happen? I had no memory of doing that. Maybe that's more a gesture than a whisper but you get my point. There's something for me to understand here that's deep and true. There's often something to understand from a quiet source. I always want to make a joke like "Yeah, understand that you are a twit and need the right things for work" but I know it's not like that.
You know when it's not like that.