A Month in the Sub-Tropics

It is always the inner conflict that is most painful.  A short definition of pain might be in order.  This is what is currently on Wiki, “Pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”[1] It is the feeling common to such experiences as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodineon a cut, and bumping the “funny bone“.[2]

Well that sort of does away with my premise.  When we talk about pain in psychological terms we are not referring to the “bumping the funny bone,” we are referring to another kind of discomfort that is associated with not liking something very much.  I very much do not like ambivalence and because of that, I refer to my conflict as a kind of psychic pain.  A bumping of a kind of mental funny bone.  But from this perspective the entire idea of pain is a metaphor.

When we talk about all pain being an inner conflict, I think we are talking about a pain that is not necessarily connected to tissue and to nerve endings.  The pain that is associated with inner conflict comes from the essential characteristic of fear.  Fear leads to a kind of pain because it introduces a certain chemistry within that has us imagining pain.  As we begin to calculate how awful something will be or how awful something was, we tend to call that association pain because it has in common with physical pain the notion that we do not like it at all.

Coming out as an artist is often painful for people.  Coming out as an artist is big business for the soul and all too often the ego does not want to encourage this idea and it begins an internal dissent.  The ego fights back with words, “you are not an artist, you are not a writer!”  There is a deflating vengeance that the ego can have toward we changing a mental construct about ourselves.

This winter I am in the sub-tropics giving myself an artistic interlude.  I am here to make peace with my inner conflict, to subside the psychic pain involved with reinventing myself at the age of sixty-five.  I am here to gently nudge my soul away from the precepts of the ego that tries to steer me away from becoming comfortable with a new me.

The idea is not so much to convince myself of an identity.  I can do that very well on my own in my traditional settings.  The idea is more one of convincing myself that authenticity is itself a form of joy and a form of success & that I need to practice authenticity internally as well as I need to sell it to others externally.  I feel prepared to let myself be a creative writer.  I have allowed the thought to simmer now for some time and I think the sauce is ready. Listening to the small inner whisper, the internal voice that is meek like that of a child’s, gives my soul a hint of the permission it needs to eventually amplify that voice into it own authenticity.

As I think about the process of authenticity i find that there is as much letting go as there is newness involved.  Letting-go of deliberate outcomes in exchange for accepting things as they are provides us with enough faith to believe that change will occur when it is time for it to occur.  The caterpillar  has no intention of becoming a butterfly. When it is time the metamorphose will happen.

This deliberate letting go of outcome, I find difficult to reconcile with my egoic self that has always be so directive and controlling about what i want and how I propose to get it.  The simple idea of letting the world happen to me requires that I have a faith in a process that I have little to no experience with.  I am here in the sub-tropics letting the world happen to me and I am finding that it is equally difficult to call myself a writer even when that is all that I am doing with my life.  The ego gets up with me every morning and when it hears the sound of the pounding surf several hundred feet away it begins instantly to command and make demands on me that sounds more like the voice of a drill Sargent than it does that of a gentle nudge.

The aspect of my creativity that I have long postponed was that I thought I needed to know where i was wanting to go.  I thought that the desire had to lead in the way of a guide rather that in the manner of a muse.  In fact i am discovering that my creativity resides much more in the concept of allowing myself to be authentic in the moment than it does about knowing directions.  Who I am and what is important to my life happens in a moment by moment manner and there are days that I wake up discouraged in myself just as there are days that i wake up feeling enlightened and even wise.

In most of my professional life I have surrounded myself with intelligent, scientific types.  I have enjoyed using the phrase research fellow as it enhanced my idea of value.  i do not want in any way to have to dismantle those ideas and those times, but I do want to add a different flavor to my repertoire.  I am encouraging my soul to listen to the sound of the pounding surf and i am encouraging myself to think and to use words in ways that are not necessarily accurate; rather they are used to convey feelings, to create portraits & landscapes that are pleasing to the soul.

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2 comments on “A Month in the Sub-Tropics

  1. Colleen says:

    BRAVO!! I am in awe at the beauty of your gift… thank you!

  2. .Nicki says:

    Al, your writing brought me to a very peaceful place by the ocean and stirred my inner, undiscovered artistic self within that is waiting to be unlocked. Love your piece…Nicki

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