The Spirit and the Squirrel

Finding life’s edges

“If you don’t know the language, you don’t know the people; If you don’t know the people, you don’t know the food.” It was another Uber trip to the Doctor’s office, and on this occasion the language and people were being represented by someone from Libya. In Libya they speak in their own dialect of Arabic was my lesson that day. That saying is one that I came up with after years of cooking, and by using that segue, I have been able to broker the universal language of food into one that helps bridge a quiet ride when you feel half dead and wonder what is going to happen next? The last six months have been filled with longer reaches, stretched out anticipations, and expectations of things that just don’t arrive. It is a master class of sitting in your own self, dealing with the dirty corners and lofty ideals of life and whatnot. Within that struggle is an abundance of truths, insights, and even epiphanic moments, yet they don’t carry the same luster without the ability to throw them at the wall like spaghetti to see if they’ll stick. Almost a character study in a vampire’s life, there’s nothing looking back at me when I check the mirror.

Photo by Mariana Blue from Pexels

While we as a species are individuals, the content, and context of our lives is highly influenced by society, interactions, and expectations others have of us. It is the way our motivational engines are stacked up, part of the next correct intended action, it is the inroads to understanding oneself and others. So when those inputs go missing, get cloistered up in their own bubbles of cause and effect, a lot more goes missing than what is cognitively known. Because although a sense of self is highly individual, the sense of self itself is also highly influenced by community, by environment. Yes, the lack of company was understood, and a strange thing to get accustomed to. But I don’t think it is something that humans can stay accustomed to. Because the vampire analogy is more appropriate than I suspected when I penned it. Our stacks of life, and our daily engines, are built off of that interaction, whether nuanced or overt, the necessity for some kind of external compass, reassurance, and positive reinforcement, is imperative for any kind of proper mental health.

How do we reflect on society? How does society reflect us? Are we outliers, or common? In the program we would say that there’s no accountability, no reinforcement of the practices. This is not recovery though, this is the real world and this is life that has changed, gone askew. While we notice it, and recognize the meaning of some things, those things are different now. So without the reflections of those around our various circles of life, some of what the self looks like disappears as well, very much like a broken mirror. So as the months have passed and the various changes have happened, there was nobody there, no wall to throw the spaghetti against. A fuzzy silhouette instead of a stark representation, a losing yourself to the best adulting you can muster because there aren’t any restrictions… accountability, that has to be upheld.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

Trying to spot this pattern over the previous months was like trying to catch that shape from your peripheral vision, the one you know isn’t there but your mind thinks there was. It is a squirrel darting from limb to limb that you lose sight of as soon as it stops. It was also incredibly frustrating as well, as it kept itself in the center of my creative processes, halting the machinery until I figured out where the wrench was. Yes, the world is out of kilter, it has changed irrevocably, but there was something else, a part of that undoing that was poignant as heck to my sensibilities. This was it, it was the loss of the reflection, the effect of the disconnect that was pinging at my noticing sence’s. The reason why it was pertinent and deafening in its ability to halt the creative process was also epiphanic, those very reflections are a vital source for my creative energies… Without the interactions and daily meeting of the minds, the corrective and calming reassurances that we get and give, there was little to pick from as far as patterns. That bit about patterns was the other eye opener. As with anything, the longer you go through something, the more perspective you’ll have on it. Over my lifetime, I can honestly say that I notice patterns in very sensitive areas, overt patterns, and the ones that try to hide. So by default I utilize those patterns to make sense of the world, to write about its edges, and to keep myself and world in alignment. You don’t have edges to write about if there is no reflection of the edges you own.

Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

In recovery, and in life in general, there is a notion of self that is greatly misunderstood, mischaracterized, and leaves us open to a number of variables that we don’t always know is there. Self, as in that incredibly wonderful and individual thing that you and I own is not something that you, nor I, truly own outright… It is a construct depending heavily on environment, people, society, and beliefs, that create the simplest route to sense our minds can make of it. At the same time, our minds can make us believe any number of things to create that sense with our surroundings, our feedback, and our desired expectations. This is part of the formula of how being powerless seemingly empower us more than ever thought of before. Because in that powerlessness things such as these appear, they allow us to see the problem as a construct that can be disassembled, an actionable course. In this case, it was the pattern theory that broke open, an appropriate end to this battle of self that has run its course over the last few months. A noticing of the lack of reflection, and in it an awareness to create some substance, some solid pieces of life to look back upon. I do not know what world will be looking back at me tomorrow, but I do know I will know more of who is looking out at the world. Just someone who is also trying to make sense of things, and one who will always examine, the spirit and the squirrel.

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