Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Shadow Knows

I sat last night in my circle of men for the first time in several weeks. It's always an opportunity for each of us to take a hard look at our lives, and to explore those parts that are not working for us as they might. These are the parts we are eager, in normal circumstances, to hide, repress or deny, because it is usually more comfortable to ignore them than to pay attention to them. Still, unattended, they persist in causing us pain, and in standing between us and those around us; and all too often they block the flow of our efforts to achieve. It's a place to be authentic, to acknowledge the bullshit that we tell ourselves and others, to get back in touch with our integrity. I have been missing it...

So I had the opportunity, last night, to look at a conflict I had been aware of only as a vague feeling of discomfort and frustration. I have been noticing it particularly in the past few days--a familiar feeling that I'm so busy being busy that the real work, the writing, gets short shrift. And looking a bit closer at those feelings, I rediscovered the inner contradiction that is at the heart of "Persist"--the contradiction between the part of me that genuinely want to disattach from outcomes, and the part I'm less likely to acknowledge, the one that's ambitious, hungry for recognition and even, yes, financial reward. The part--I blush, but this is the point of getting past the bullshit--that takes guilty delight in counting the money after a good night's sales!

It's this kind of exploration of the shadow side that makes the work we do in our circle so important and so valuable. When the shadow is behind me, it's capable of controlling me in ways that provoke suffering and anger. When it's out in front where I can shine the light on it, it loses some of its power. I may be unable to get rid of entirely, but at least I'm less subject to its whims. The circle is a great way to make this happen. In the first place, I have other men to hold me accountable; I'm confident that they will recognize my bullshit, and hold my feet to the fire when necessary. And then, too, the work of self-accountability becomes more powerful when it's realized in the presence of others, and not simply in the comfortably private arena of my own mind. The commitments are less easy to make and less easy to break when other men are listening.

So I'm grateful for having discovered this work, now nearly eighteen years ago; and for having embraced it in the years since then. It's a benefit I would wish for every man--especially for those whose misplaced masculine energies contribute so greatly to the troubles of this world.

No comments: