I am in love with leaves and the final explosion of color before the starkness of winter. Some people consider spring to be the time fullest of life and action. I can definitely see their point—sprouting buds and the emergence of everything green. But for me, the fall is all about life. It embodies movement and change. It is in the edge, the margin of the season before everything is locked away in ice, that I feel the real pulse of life and earth. Around my home, the leaves are changing, the bears are searching for food anywhere they can (including my car!), and the birds come and go more quickly. It is a poignant time. It is also the time of year that I relearn the powerful and painful lesson of letting go.
It is true of most things that are comfortable, pleasurable, and beautiful, I try to hold on to it for as long as I can. I find myself wishing that the leaves wouldn’t fall and disappear, that I could bask in the reds, oranges, yellows, and magentas forever. I’m sad when the leaves succumb to gravity, but it also gets me thinking.
I am dying to let go of old habits, patterns, and pain. I recently looked through all of my journals, beginning at age seven to the present. Despite all the things that have changed in my life, so much of it, on the inside, was the same. I saw the same challenges—anger, insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, and fear. But if it is so easy to slide into those emotions, why should it not be as easy to spontaneously slide into joy, relaxation, hope, compassion, etc? It seems easier to get angry than it is to get happy, but there can’t be hard or easy emotions. It is just our patterns telling us what is comfortable and routine, patterned responses to remain in the comfort of the known.
The movie, ‘What the Bleep Do We Know,’ talked about this kind of stuff. It suggested that we train our brain to react in certain ways and by perpetuating these patterns we make them stronger and stronger. The movie said that even our cells develop more receptors for certain emotions, like anger, thus making it easier for someone to get angry than to relax. I see this with someone close to me. Simply put, he has gotten used to reacting in an angry way to certain triggers, that to me, seem really easy to blow off. When questioned about it, sometimes he claims it is just how he is. To a degree, he’s right. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have the power to recreate ourselves every second.
I am a case in point. I used to be quick to anger and quite full of rage. It would manifest itself in yelling, hitting, and other childish behavior. It was a trained response to certain emotions, situations, and triggers. It was actually my friend Ty, who used to really piss me off sometimes, that helped me to see how pointless and immature it was to resort to hitting and yelling. He helped me make a conscious decision to start living in my higher nature and relax. Getting that angry about things was a huge waste of energy.
Retraining my brain not to react in that prescriptive way was tough, but so worth it. I started taking a pause when I could feel something coming on. I’d take a deep breath and try to see a larger view. I tried to avoid setting up the target for the arrow so to speak. I noticed that sometimes I would unconsciously put myself in situations that would make me angry or sad. I’d set people up to disappoint me. For some reason, there was some comfort in that; I guess I was getting used to feeling that way and it validated something within me. I started experiencing what it was like not to slide into negative emotions, and it was way better. Anger and stress are simply not healthy and they prevent us from being kind and compassionate people living well-rounded lives. Anger is tiring on the soul. I got sick of it. Plus, I used to have the “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” attitude. But that negativity has a ripple effect that affects the people around me and probably the world in general.
This is not to say that I never get angry. I’ve just learned better ways to deal with it. Punk used to be my only real outlet for all the anger inside me. But, as the years have passed, I associate punk music with feeling good and happy. For me, punk music is a positive thing, even though the lifestyle at times may not be (addiction, fighting, backstabbing, etc.)
Though I used anger as the example, people have patterns for everything—sex, love, relief, contentment. Through journals, poetry, thinking and experiencing, I’ve pondered a lot on these subjects. I approach self-reflection with the utmost curiosity. I like to try to understand why I do certain things, why certain things always happen to me, and other mysteries. Trust me, I don’t have too much time on my hands. I want to try to get the most out of my life. Habits and patterns keep us enslaved. We become robots doing different things, but acting the same. The same things will keep happening to us, until these things have taught us what we need to know. For example, a poignant exercise for a lot of people to get them thinking is to look at their past relationships. What characteristics do most of the past partners share? Are they needy? Insecure? Emotionally unavailable? Overbearing? Promiscuous? Abusive? Passive? Have addictive personalities? Then ask what it was you were attracted to and why it didn’t end up working. What does that person say about you and how you live your life? What drama are you replaying over and over? What is the lesson you have yet to learn? It’s probably not obvious at first, but usually this kind of revelation really wakes you up.
I realize that a lot of you out there will think I’m full of shit or think nothing about these kinds of things. That’s fine. I take no responsibility for anyone else’s life. But if one person can be inspired to change life for the better, make it more exciting and real, it’s worth the rolling of the eyes. But, I must ask, if you are rolling your eyes, are you just scared to look closer at yourself? Scared of what you might find out about yourself?