On Surviving–Inner Work Exercise

Here’s a fun thing to do that’s also very instructive—a kind of inner work. You notice what’s bothering you and you let yourself first focus on it, on what about it is really bothering you. Then, keeping that in the background, you let yourself get kind of fuzzy and diffuse and notice what happens. Just stay with it without trying to be rational or “think” about it. Just notice what happens and let the images come. Here are a couple of examples:

 My Partner Can’t Make up his Mind

One day I was miffed that my partner was so indecisive. “Why is this bothering me so much?” I wondered.  Sensing that the source of my irritation was actually something in me trying to come to awareness, I decided to find inside me the one that wobbled so much (instead of putting it on my partner). I closed my eyes, left everyday consciousness behind, and traveled way into my center, letting the visions come.

 I moved from side to side within a picture frame and suddenly found myself dodging bullets!  They whizzed beside my ear like target-bees and sang the air near shoulder, arm, and thigh.  They missiled toward my toes and periled near my nose.  To avoid them, I found I was spending my entire life alert and jerking to and fro.  “I have to focus my whole and only attention on survival!” Suddenly, I felt free. For me, this was a powerful realization. “I’m allowed to look out solely for my own survival!”  Rather than all the time worrying about “how will this affect him; what will she think of that; will they be happy if I say this or that?”  It blew me away. 

I Am Alone

Another time I went into the pain of separation and aloneness.  Of being left, not being wanted.  When I let my imagination go where it went, I was all of a sudden the son of a ghetto mother, left by her boyfriend to work for nothing and over the years to suckle and diaper and teach to walk and walk to school and cook a meager meal and give lessons in manners to a baby-young-child-teen.

Of course, she couldn’t do this all alone, and so she didn’t.  She left me, her son, alone—sometimes for days—when she despaired and wandered the streets in search of a way out for herself.  At first, I was afraid, constantly afraid and crying.  No one heard my hunger, my fear at night. No one saw my dirty face, the shredded clothes I wore.

After a while like that I understood:  this is what is. I became tough, hard, cold.  I knew what I needed; I knew what I wanted.  I knew what to do to get it, and I did what I had to do.  I roamed the streets.  I learned everything about those streets and the people that roamed them, too.  I learned about the shopkeepers and how to get them to give me food.  If they wouldn’t, I knew what time they left for the night and how to steal in to their stores and to steal out with the food.  I knew where to find clothes and warmth and even luxuries.  And I did.  “I do what I need to do; I am a survivor!  You can’t stop me, because I know all about you.  I’m smarter than you.  I’ve watched you, and you have never watched me!”