inner light

I'm going to shamelessly borrow from Quaker phraseology and talk about my "inner light."

Roughly a week ago, I came to the realization that my inner light was depleted.  I've been increasingly negative and pessimistic.  I've been self-critical in a bad way; I keep dwelling on things that I've done wrong or might have done wrong.  I've been over critical of myself in social situations: I see myself as too talkative or opinionated and I kick myself over bad phrasing or poorly contextualized statements.  I muck up stories that were once funny, and I end up playing devil's advocate awkwardly.  Academically, I'm in a self-esteem low and have been focusing on how much I don't know.  But then I end up being overly academic in other situations.   At church, I've been paying attention to the statements I disagree with rather than picking out the good things.  Like I said in my last post, it's just so much easier to focus on the things that need improvements, and this has been going on in all areas of my life.  In fact, I've been feeling a little bit of this breed of pessimism about that post: I didn't articulate my points well and I was too negative, blah blah blah.  It's sort of a downward spiral.  I'm negative, so I feel bad, so I'm negative...

Just coming to this realization has helped a lot.  I still slip, but when I do, I just have to let it go.  If people take things the wrong way, oh well.  I'll do my best to both honest and loving and everything will sort itself out.  I was trying to come up with things to lift myself up: meditation, gardening, miscellaneous recreation, but it was just a shift of mind more than anything else.

This week I re-read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  It reminded me that people tend to be too self-focused and that I am no one.  I reminded me to try and see the word as it really is, and that I'll never be able to see and understand everything, at least not mortally.  It taught me that nobody should be able to take away my joy.  It taught me that focusing on the negative is really just focusing on the self, and it reminded me of my mantra to be the person you want to be, right now.  A quote:
"Hell is a state of mind--ye never said a truer word.  And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell.  But Heaven is not a state of mind.  Heaven is reality itself.  All that is fully real is Heaven.  For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains."
I had a taste of Heaven once.  I was sitting next to someone I didn't like and didn't want to be with, hearing him go on about things I didn't care about.  To escape, I started thinking of the vastness of space and suddenly, I felt an incredible about of love.  For the person I didn't like, for everyone at the table, for the world.  We were all God's children, we were all equal, and hating anyone was silly.  The feeling of joy lasted for hours, maybe even days.  But in time I stopped feeding it and it faded.

I got a bit of it back this week, and the Lewis book was mostly responsible.  Writing that last post, though, was like throwing water on the flame.  While honesty is important, I think that I need to focus on goodness for a bit, until my inner light is strong enough.  With a sense of joy, things will take their real form, and thus my honest criticisms will be distilled (e.g. into what needs to be done for change) instead of occurring for enjoying the process of criticism.

The journey will certainly be interesting, but ideally, I'll never lose my joy, my Heaven, for too long ever again.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

I think about the vastness of space a lot as well, but in a different way. The earth is just one rock around a run-of-the-mill star, one of billions in our galaxy, and our galaxy is one of billions of billions of galaxies in the universe. The observable universe is just a part of everything else. For some reason, this is comforting to me. I feel less important, and less observed. I have always remembered something I heard in a child development class at BYU. The professor said that teenagers are so self-absorbed that they believe everyone is watching them at all times, that they are always preforming, so when they get home at the end of the day they just want to retreat to their rooms and close the door to re-charge. In reality, all teenagers are scrutinizing themselves so intensenly, and they believe everyone else is paying as much attention to them as they are to themselves. I think I have always remembered that because I saw myself so clearly in it.

Anyway, to finally tie these two points together, I think that our society promotes extreme naval-gazing with facebook, myspace, blogs, etc., we are always promoting ourselves. There is so much information that we feel like we need to have an informed stand on everything that we must be prepared to clearly state at any time. I think the church adds to this pressure too - we need to make correct choices at every minute at every decision point because someone is watching. It doesn't help us radiate anything out or focus on what other people are hearing rather than what we are saying. And so when I think about how big space is, and how much creation God is worrying about (Billions and Billions), it helps me remember my place. After all, we come from dust and to dust we will return. For most people that's depressing, but I like it :-)

And I don't mean to imply that I think you specifically are self-centered. I don't. I have these thoughts all the time too. I just think that modern Americans as a whole are self-centered.

Does that make sense? Anyway, that was long. Sorry.

You and I should get together some time to knit. I think we could have a lot to talk about.