Monday, June 2, 2014

Stop Looking Left!

I would like to share a fascinating analogy (to me) that I experienced today, a metaphor for a better way of seeing the world.

I met a friend of mine that I had met at a meetup group a couple months ago this afternoon. I had some trouble getting myself together, so we only had about 90 minutes, but it worked out. The air was bothering me for some reason, so we ended up sitting in the car talking. We decided to go to Deering Oaks Park, and as I feared might happen, not only ended up *near* the apartment building I used to live in last summer for 6 weeks and have some rather traumatic memories of, but right across the street from it. In the exact spot Rob used to park when picking me up or visiting me. Oy, talk about triggering.

So there we were, sitting in the car. The Deering Oaks fountain was on our right. We had a perfect view of it. The Deering Oaks fountain makes me think, viscerally and instinctually, of happiness.... It makes me think of festivals, and joy, and glee, and discovery.... mostly of gay pride festivals, which always took place in Deering Oaks and always delighted me. That was on our right. On our left, if I looked over to see that green awning and defiant street number, the visceral memories of me, last summer, going up those steps and the details and emotions of the life I lived last summer would wash over me to an extent that I was re-experiencing them, and would re-experience them even now if I was to write further about them.

Last night, I was reading a great book called Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You. One thing it talked about was the concept of duality - being able to hold uncomfortable feelings and positive feelings at the same time  and not feeling the need to label it as one or the other, or to feel as if you needed to cover up the bad feelings, but feeling as if you could tolerate them and be aware of the good.

It suggested doing a gratefulness excercise to pair positive stimuli with the negative stimuli, but I was not able to overcome my negative stimuli enough to do so.

Upon musing upon this interesting dichotomy that I found myself literally right in the middle of at Deering Oaks, I realized something - I was right smack in the middle of a perfect duality exercise. Negative stimuli on the left, positive stimuli on the right, it was a perfect living example of how to hold two opposite things at once. (And then some far more calming stimuli in the car with me that helped me to process all this..) I thought about what it meant to take the positive stimuli and associate it with the negative.

When I told Tim of these musings, his response was a little less analytical than mine but no less profound... I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed some more. He had the perfect response. His response was "Don't look left!" Simple, yet profound. Perhaps in life I am spending too much time looking left - and forgetting that the option to look right even exists. It is very difficult to resist the allure of looking left.. but I will try to remember that "right" exists. I don't want my option to analyze or get more comfortable with the emotions that looking left entails to dissapear... but I would like to occasionally remember that I don't have to always be doing it!

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