Self, Deconstructed
Written by
Cyndi Briggs
January 2011
Written by
Cyndi Briggs
January 2011

This is today's post from my blog, The Sophia Project.



I have about 12 years of journals stacked up in my bedroom. Every now and then, I pull a few out and go through them, reading over my past thoughts, struggles, and triumphs. It's like a message in a bottle in reverse: seemingly unsolvable problems now long forgotten resolved in that magical progression of time.

Last summer I had a lot of stuff going on in my life, to put it mildly. I'd decided to quit my job, I was in the process of finding a renter for my beloved house, and I was transitioning from a structured life to a fluid one, without bosses or deadlines or external expectations.

In addition, I found myself at the end of a short-lived romance that had started with so much promise. Confronted with the massive internal overhaul I was undergoing, the little flower of potential got utterly crushed. I felt sad about it, and wrote in my journal, "I am built to be bulldozed and resurrected. It is how I know my true worth."

Bulldozed and resurrected. I'm losing count of the number of times in my life I've found myself at an unexpected crossroads in the middle of nowhere, completely lost and startled to find myself off the planned path. Again.

My career and my life are built on a passion for self-exploration and introspection. I love the conversations that last til 3am, sorting out the meaning of it all. I actually like feeling lost, because it means I get to let go of old expectations and get creative in my reinvention.

But in my profession, we disguise change behind a facade of ease and predictability. We write books with "Five steps to healing your heart!" or "Seven secrets to a satisfying life!" I buy these books because they make change look so sanitary and sane. I feel some relief in the idea that an outer expert can tell me, in 250 short pages, how to completely transform my self into something sensible. Ordinary.

These books are like a big bowl of steamed broccoli in a world longing for steak sauteed in butter. Sure they seem healthy, but they lack flavor, spice, weight, calories. I read these books, and just like eating broccoli, I'm starving again an hour later.

I want to change the way we see change. Our emotional experiences are deep, powerful, and mysterious. Reducing the complexity of them to simple steps or arbitrary stages relieves us of the magic we so inherently possess. The absolute passion and power that seizes us from the inside and forces us to fall in love, move to a new continent, write poetry, and consider death. It is through being bulldozed that we might be resurrected. It is not a simple nor tidy process, but in my experience, it's the only thing that really forces us to look deeply at ourselves and revolutionize the way we are in the world.

In his poem, "Self Portrait", David Whyte writes:

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.

If you know despair or can see it in others.

I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you. If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand.

I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of sure defeat.

I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.

By virtue of being alive, we have been place into this amazing, exquisite, painful, unjust, chaotic journey. At times, we are brought to our knees from the grief of it. Other times, we stand exalted, triumphant and sure.

I used to fear my highs and my lows, because they made life feel far too random. Now I simply breathe into them, knowing each is temporary and likely to be followed by the other. It is through love and loss and communion and solitude that I find myself, again and again, bulldozed and resurrected.

And in the words of David Whyte, I can look back with firm eyes and say, "This, this is where I stand."

Peace to you on your journey, as you forge your own self in the fire.

Let's be friends

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