Friday, 31 December 2010
Happy New Year
Friends, may 2011 be a year of blessing for you.
Just now many threads and strands of thought are muddling round in my head. I'm working on a novel with some elusive and complex ideas in that has delicate and not-so-easy passages of interaction and dialogue to write. And I've been asked for some complicated editorial bits and pieces to lay some inconsistencies straight in the fiction series I've been writing. Christmas and New Year have meant a difference in household routines etc, and family time and encounters, that all take up head-space. So my thoughts are a bit muddled and random...
One of the things I've been thinking about is the whole concept of personal history. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall to behold an interaction between me and my Badger yesterday; it would have been very educational for you.
You know how there are some things that run in families, or in a life, things with a History? A bit like old Aunt Ada Doom, in Cold Comfort Farm, who had to have her own way all the time because she Saw Something Nasty In The Woodshed when she was a little girl? So those things run like a tape that comes to dominate relationships and trains of thought and likely outcomes to conversations.
Well, a sequence of events set me off on one of those old tapes. A moment passed me by like a snake slipping quiet under the grass into the bushes, that I could have caught if I'd been alert enough, but I let it stay in my peripheral vision and didn't lay hold of it. That moment said to me, "You know, you don't need this. You don't need to do this." But in the interest of being honest or just unwilling to let things go, I set off on old complaints and clung doggedly to old hurts and injustices.
In the past, it would have escalated into a row, and me and Badger would both have been defensive and said hurtful things; but we didn't. He heard me, and he understood, and asked me what I wanted him to do that would make things better; and I couldn't think of anything. And we stayed in a place that was honest and loving, although fairly painful.
This was all about old family stuff, difficult things from the early days of our marriage.
And then this morning, it came to my mind what Carlos Castaneda had said about personal history in his book Journey To Ixtlan:
I have no routines or personal history. One day I found out that they were no longer necessary for me and, like drinking, I dropped them. One must have the desire to drop them and then one must proceed harmoniously to chop them off, little by little. If you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts. It is best to erase all personal history because that makes us free from the encumbering thoughts of other people.
Now of course if you really have no personal history at all you might have trouble finding your way home or remembering which brand of muesli you might want to buy in order to enjoy your breakfast tomorrow morning. But that isn't what he means. He's talking about letting go of the domination of relational tangles, allowing life to slip through your fingers like the water of a mountain stream, clear and free, unhindered and wild, like it was mean to be - not snarled up with recriminations and grudges and old resentments.
And I realised in a visceral way that hadn't come to me before (though I'd known it as an intellectual proposition) that I could let go of the painful history that had soured and poisoned some of what we'd passed through. I didn't need it any more. To retain it or let go of it was my choice.
So at the crossroads between the decade that has just gone and the one just beginning, I think I prefer the road to freedom. Goodbye to all that. I cut the ties of this pack I've been carrying, and it can roll down the hill into the sea. Eternity is only ever approached through the doorway of now. Eternal life has no yesterday and no tomorrow. The same is true of joy. The only access to joy is in the present reality of now. Nursing old grievances, the things that someone said and did, whether they meant to or not, is incompatible with joy.
So as I step into 2011 I am choosing to leave my personal history behind. It won't be needed on the journey. If I'm made in the image of God as Jesus said, then I am what I am, and the past has no dominion and isn't even very interesting either.
Peace. Simplicity. Friendship. Kindness. Understanding. These are what I choose.
God bless you in 2011. May it bring much laughter and many happy times. May you remember not to take yourself too seriously. May you have the space and the love you need to be the person you were meant to be. may you be happy. May you be whole. May you be free.