Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on May 17, 2014

Strong inner psychological events can shatter our sometimes fragile sense of self, forcing us beyond conventional societal norms and into a period of extreme vulnerability. Recovery from those states pretty much defines us as a shaman. Failure to recover drives us a little crazy and condemns us to forever orbit society at a distance – a singleton.

Strong outer events, like the death of a loved one or other great losses, shatter the self for a while, until it can heal itself and reform. I covered this in the previous blog.

But there are still greater events, low-level changes to the self, almost subliminal in nature, surrounding particular rites-of-passage events in life that we go through and experience, not always consciously. I call them sea changes. The "Prime of Life" is one of those, but there are others, one of which I am now going through and will share with you. I might as well give you some of the personal details.

What I didn't know until recently was how broad-based and stealthy deep change within the self can be. I was (as we all are) used to short-term upsets, you know, a few days, maybe a week… that kind of thing, even though one of my favorite selfie-quotes is "The straighter the line, the finer the curve." In other words, there is no such thing as a straight line. Sooner or later everything comes around in a circle or a spiral. Yet our ROI (return on investment) can take a very, very long time. That is what karma is all about, long-term investments and returns.

As mentioned, I find that there are some "self-shattering" eruptions that implode within us in what can only be called slow motion, and the fallout from that kind of implosion takes months or even years to come to our attention. We don't see it because it is we who are imploding and we are mistakenly looking outside ourselves for the causes.

But like the title of Neil Young's album "Rust Never Sleeps," deep-sea changes within ourselves work away on us like some kind of acid-eating brine, leaving us somehow psychological detached, yet totally unaware of that fact. We just don't feel like our old self, and for good reason, because we're not. We are changing despite ourselves.

I confess that I don't always see these sonar-like changes coming. It is not like a police siren or even someone flagging us down, but much more invasive than that. The reach of these slow changes embraces everything, including any early-warning systems we may have set up. It is like one of those hurricane-like shear or straight winds that sweep across the plains of life, except it is stone silent. In my recent case, I never saw it coming. It was not like me seeing a storm coming out there, because it was the self in me (the one who is supposed to be doing the looking) that was changing. I saw nothing coming, but I was changed by it nevertheless. I hope you are still with me.

As pointed out above, it was not similar to one of those tragic events that happen in life, like the death of someone we love, an event that registers and upsets whatever train we are on, while we witness it. We are present. This change I am describing was much deeper and more pervasive than that, and I finally realize what caused it. It was as simple (or profound) as my retirement after fifty years of clinging to the job of staying alive and supporting my family, and all that means. And we each have some similar scenario working for us.

I had long ago sublimated (and forgotten) how traumatic it was for me, a rather sensitive young thing, to drop out of high school, forgo college, and walk the tightrope of life without a safety net, while all those around me wagged their fingers goodbye at me as regards having any security in the future. I had completely forgotten how painful and scary that time was. Like one of those sensitive-to-touch plants, I had drawn in some of my feelings and held them tight all these years. Now that my entrepreneurial career struggle is over, I find that I am starting to emerge, but who am I?

And although my formal career ended on a particular day and time last summer, the letting go of the fifty-plus years of struggling to exist set off a groundswell inside me that, like a tsunami, has been a long time coming to consciousness, but when it hit, it was ten-feet tall and just flattened me. Letting go of such a profound and deep-seated attachment (grasping) found me swirling into the current of my life's events without a rudder. I was immediately just swept away and I didn't even know that until recently. I am just waking up now, as the dust is settling and the stars are coming out again. Talk about Rip Van Winkle. Part of me has been asleep or in a death-grasp for fifty years!

I just had no idea how much I had clung to my routine all these years, like a man clinging to a stone in a hurricane. When I finally retired last summer and could afford to let go, of course I was just swept away. I am now a recovering retiree, re-forming in this cold spring of 2014, pulling myself back together and trying to figure out who I am once again, older and hopefully wiser than before. "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger," is the old refrain.

I always thought that it is the challenges out there in the world that I have to watch out for. It never occurred to me that simply letting go of deep-seated life-long attachments (like a career) could precipitate such a free fall. I thought letting go of attachments was liberating, and so it is. Of course, how could I have any idea what liberation of this kind entailed? Liberty and liberation had always been pretty much pie-in-the-sky talk on my part, you know freedom… being free. What exactly is that?

This actual experience of liberation from my career attachment is NOT something the self is going to appreciate, it being the arch-conservative that it is. Just the opposite! I like the analogy of my retirement as letting go of the one rock that I had been clinging to all these years in the rushing stream of life. Letting go was just that, letting life go free and suddenly finding myself carried away in the torrent of change, with nothing to hang on to or grasp, no routine. I am used to grasping and struggling.

So there you have it. Here I am, floating free, no longer attached to making a living, but also I feel suddenly at sea without a paddle. All this happened last August (2013). Let's see, it is now May of 2014 and I just got my head above water for the first time in these last few days. That's about nine months for the cat to come back, for me to come up for air, which is quite a swim! It's like when your computer goes off to think and takes a long, long time to return.

Anyway, it seems I am "in process," letting go of fifty years of struggle and attachment-to-survival, you know, providing for myself and my family. The process of detachment I am experiencing is not a gentle thing at all, but it is transformative. I will have to wait to see how I turn out.

Working with my first dharma teacher back in the 1960s, Andrew Gunn McIver (who worked as a travelling initiator for a Rosicrucian order)… he would repeat to me certain phrases, and even have me memorize them, sometimes calling me out to recite them in front of others.

One of the most mysterious of these phrases was something about the word "liberty" and liberation. He said that in Scotland that word or its root "lib" meant to cut off or castrate. All these years I never understood why he told me this. But I now feel it is linked to this process of detachment I am describing. I believe Andrew was referring to how all of us are bound and attached to our sexual energy. Like turning off the career attachment, detaching from our sexual energy I am certain is an even greater letting go.

Everything that is bound will be released in time. How many other circles (or cycles) am I on right now that are still sublimated and yet to return? That's life.