Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Discomfort of a New Skin

Hello, invisible audience,

Long time no write. Let’s just say it’s been a hell of a year for me, one filled with a lot of introspection, grief, pain and growth. If I haven’t lost you yet, I may lose you soon; this is a post about showing my new self, and she’s a little bit different.
I’ve had a series of epiphanies in the last six months or so, and they culminated in a need to escape to somewhere that I could hear myself think. That place ended up being Yasodhara Ashram, a yoga retreat and study center near Nelson, British Columbia, on Kootenay Lake. It’s beautiful here, and a good place to contemplate life’s bigger questions with other people searching for the same thing. At the same time, it’s exhausting; you’re in it, all the time, everywhere you look and whatever you do. An intentionally spiritual community like this one is focused on seeing what is behind the everyday and mundane; the people here are looking for meaning in the smallest task and the largest life questions, and I am no exception.

The ashram is set up in a way that makes you confront your coping strategies, reassess your communication tactics, and to teach you to watch your interactions as if from afar. If you’re working with someone and their leadership style rubs you the wrong way, why? Why are other peoples’ stratagems antagonizing you? What does your reaction say about YOU?
Needless to say, the types of questions that come up are worthwhile, and shed everything in a new light. I bawl my eyes out or at least wipe tears off my face nearly every day.  Fortunately for me, this is not a strange thing at the ashram; someone told me when I first arrived that anyone scared off by tears would leave almost immediately.
I love it here, and I also hate it. I keep waiting to get to the bottom of all the emotions I feel and why I feel them, but I’m beginning to realize that this whole personal growth thing is a lifelong challenge. As much as I don’t ever want to stop growing, I look at the residents of the ashram – people who have been asking themselves the hard questions for years – and I catch myself thinking, “They’ve been doing it for so long, haven’t they reached the bottom of their well of life’s questions yet? Could there really be that much MORE to look at; a whole lifetime’s worth?”
Well, the answer is yes. Of course the questions change over the years. Of course life becomes different as you go. Once you uncover one emotional barrier, dig it up and break it apart, you realize it was just covering up a bigger, deeper one. While I enjoy all the things I have learned about myself and can see how that knowledge has enriched my life and my relationships, it sometimes seems like I will never get to a point where I will be comfortable with who I am.
One of the things they stress here is the ability to love and accept yourself just as you are at this moment; not the person you wish to become, but who you are, in all your humanness. This seems to go against my very nature. I have realized that I berate myself for things I don’t know; I expect myself to perfectly perform tasks I have never even tried before. It’s amazing I’ve ever tried anything new. I think this is the reason I haven’t written you in so long, invisible audience. I am uncomfortable in this new skin I’ve been growing into, and I don’t know how to present the new me perfectly, in a way that will make her loveable and appreciated, in all her humanness. I don’t know how, so I officially give up. Here she is: the new Morgan. This one has had a hard year, and found it almost impossible to talk about. This Morgan just realized how little her life’s choices have had to do with what she really wanted, and a lot to do with what she perceived others expected of her. This Morgan is unsure where her future is going to lead her, and terrified and exhilarated at all the possibilities. The new Morgan wants your support, but doesn’t know how to ask for it. This Morgan wants to emerge, but is still apprehensive at the thought of stepping out into the light.
A couple days ago, a friend of mine was found alive after going missing on a family hiking trip. The fear and grief of thinking he had slipped, possibly hit his head, fallen into the lake and drowned made me realize yet again how short life truly is, and how important it is to live your life authentically. The miracle of finding him alive – although beat up and still with a long way to go to recover – has strengthened my resolve to let my new self emerge while there is still life to be lived. So here she is, invisible audience. This Morgan believes that life is a miracle, and every day needs to be treated as one.

Love and miraculous kisses