Islands in the Stream of Consciousness

Islands in the Stream of Consciousness

Water isn't the only thing that flows.

The degree to which every person is a proverbial island impresses me more deeply every year, I think. Perhaps it is so blatant and frakkin’ horrible to me because I’ve had the blessing of a telepathic and empathic link with another being, in my relationship to Meridjet, my spirit companion. Every year of my life that passes finds me more skeptical than the year before about the possibility of ever finding another person who understands me and who won’t at some point abandon me. I have an intricate history of searching. Let me tell you a little about it. (Old friends of my various journals may be somewhat familiar with some of the things I’ll be saying in this post.)

Not sure where to begin, but why not throw caution to the wind and start with the facet of my experience that alienates people fastest: aging and experience. I am nearly 47 years old, and I wouldn’t dream of pulling age-rank on people the way that people immediately assume I’m doing any time I mention my age and/or my experience since I was their age. It’s not about my being smarter or wiser, or about my looking down from my lofty pedestal of Arrogant Elder Experience Ego. It’s just about sharing what I’ve seen and how it’s affected me. It’s one of the lines in the sand, or cracks in the chain, or whatever, that causes or indicates (perhaps both) that no, we’re not all that capable of really relating to each other.

More to the aging point: since my very naive youth, I have come a long way in understanding who I am and what makes me tick. This (I hope obviously) is a rather crucial facet for everyone who hopes to ever find what they truly and most deeply desire. You have to know it before you can find it. You have to know what holes exist within before you can find the qualities of self to develop to seal them, or the external whatevers to feed them. If you’re an artist, it may take years to understand what your creative urges are really pulling you toward, and then after that it may take decades to find the perfect form of expression for those driving principles. . . and only then can you ever hope to begin trying to create the masterpiece. Life is about that masterpiece, but also about the journey of discovery, right? We may die before our masterpiece ever finds expression, and it’s almost 100% certain that we will die before we feel we’ve done it. Other people may marvel at our accomplishments, but we will probably never be satisfied. And that’s as it should be. . . for art, or the perfect, unblemished epitome of “success.”

Other things we seek may be even more elusive, and some of the most elusive of all goals typically involve personal relationships. Typically, we start forming crushes in prepubescence and date through our teens, exploring various aspects of sexuality with our preferred gender, and also various aspects of friendship and trust with people we admire or who admire us. Most personal relationships, be they friend or lover, are initiated due to someone admiring someone else, and the admiree either reciprocating or at least responding in a welcoming manner. Some of the people we attach to will use us, abuse us, break our hearts, betray us, dispose of us, reject us, and a myriad of other hurtful responses. We will do the same to people we find disdainful, untrustworthy, abhorrent, disgusting, disappointing, and so on. We may even do it to people we really care about, sometimes deliberately (whether we really understand our reasons or not), and sometimes by accident. It’s how we learn to discriminate about what’s right and what’s wrong for us in choosing new friends or partners. And it takes a long time to learn.

Love at 14 years old is every bit as intense as love at 40, in some ways. But at 14, we are fresh and new and open, and we heal faster (barring real trauma) from breakups, rejections, or betrayals. At 25, hurtful or abusive relationships cut deeper, leaving scars that interfere with our ability to make unbiased choices and that find us internalizing our pain in ways that erupt unexpectedly later. We are surprised at our own behavior, and we are dismayed by it. But we are still me-focused, and our reasons for these hurt-based and now hurtful patterns seem completely justified. We don’t want to be told that we are doing harm; we only want to be acknowledged for having been victimized in our past, and coddled so that we don’t have to grow up. Growing up is hard, and scary, and there are so many ways we can imagine for things to go wrong and for our new friends and lovers to hurt us if we don’t protect ourselves. Sometimes we protect ourselves by withdrawing and refusing to be drawn out; other times we protect ourselves by lashing out and refusing to see reason. It’s a time of seeking solid footing, reliable status and most of all, security. Understanding and empathy are concepts that we have only begun to explore independently from our familial influences. We expect everyone to behave as our family members behaved, and as our past friends behaved, and we don’t know what to do when it doesn’t happen that way. These are our 20s, our young adulthood.

In our 30s, we are driven to succeed and to show our judges (parents, ministers, teachers, and anyone we admire or see as an elder) that we’ve got our shit well together. We strive to finish our education, to gain recognition for our intelligence and our wisdom. We came through our 20s and survived, and by god, we are going to take over the world. Or at least a little piece of it. If we are career-focused, then we take inventory every December to determine how we measured up to our January resolutions or our yearly plan. If we are family-focused, we are horrified that we haven’t yet married or had 2.5 children, or we’re horrified that we’ve been divorced and are now societal pariahs. In either case, career or family, we judge ourselves harshly, as we imagine (or hear) our panel of elders to be judging us. We agonize over every little failure, making them into huge, irreparable, nearly fatal horrors that will doom us to an eternity of mediocrity. Nearly every relationship — personal or professional — that we enter into is inventoried in advance for its potential harm/benefit to our overall plan of action. Typically, not a lot of time is spent on the real connections of those relationships or how they soothe our hearts or souls; it’s only the lucky ones who find true friends or mates in this decade, and the deep relationships formed at this time will very likely stay with us forever.

In our 40s (and my experience ends with this decade, so this post won’t go on forever, honest), we have come to realize that success doesn’t have a universal template, and that we are the only people who ever need judge what is good for us. Worries about what we should be doing to please the elusive powers that be are minimized, while understanding what makes our lives meaningful is maximized. We know what we want, and we are content with it, even if it’s not a billion dollar company or a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and even if we didn’t marry into money or prestige, and even if one of our 2.5 children has Down Syndrome. We feel that our lives have meaning, now. And we find the Zen of being who we are.

Sure, we’ve got unfinished business, unreached goals, unforeseen problems. We’ve got regrets, or we’re liars. We’ve got bittersweet memories of loves lost and friends misplaced along the way. We’ve got a rich past, and a promising future. But more than anything, we have right now, today, this minute, and it’s what matters. We’ll be living it with everything we have, whether it’s a challenge, a tragedy, or a radiant moment of bliss. We’ll even take two, if you’ve got ‘em. And the lucky ones who found their best friend or their soul mate in their 30s, and still have them, well, I don’t know what they’re doing. I’m not them, really. ;) But I know that it’s rarer still that a couple will find a level of comfort and understanding together that transcends typical understanding. And it’s much more common that the rest of us, we 40-somethings who love our lives and our little mundane hobbies, our spiritual expression and our guilty pleasures. . . we know that we are islands, we are very alone and untouchable in any real way, and we may never find anyone who can breach our shores, get past our defenses, win our hearts, face our difficulties, and still be here every single day with the same commitment and dedication as they were at the height of their passion. We’re still looking for that, but only with part of our attention, sort of out of the corners of our eyes, because despite the fact that we’re alone, we love who we are.

And life becomes a tapestry of feelings and experiences, and the feelings, no matter how small, are what make life life. If we manage to connect with someone and share one in passing, it’s a triumph. I’m not sure we believe we’ll ever find a connection with longevity. Some days we feel the lack of it more than others. Some days it’s pure hell. But at the end of those days, if we’ve lived our lives striving to “Know Thyself,” we always go to bed knowing that we transcend our little island prisons, and someday, somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away. . . we will find home.

(And this is how you start a post in cynicism, and end it in hope.)

Sheta Kaey About Sheta Kaey

I teach people to perceive, communicate, and work with spirits. Beyond that, I'm kinda normal.

Sometimes I write things. Sometimes I edit things. Sometimes, people even see them.

Comments

  1. You have to know what holes exist within before you can find the qualities of self to develop to seal them, or the external whatevers to feed them.

    I need to do this.

    This was an amazing post. Now I know what I have to look forward to when I’m 40. Wrinkles and the feeling of content :)

  2. Thanks so much. :) I feel all warm and fuzzy now. lol.

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