In a recent blog, I used the phrase map of awareness, and its been circling around inside my head ever since. I’m not aware of having ever used the phrase before, so it intrigues me that it sort of just slipped out and was so appropriate for what I was discussing. I even made an actual note of it in a notebook I keep near at hand to jot down just such phrases, ideas, questions that need further investigation, and tidbits I might want to use at a later time.
That little notebook could easily be seen as a type of map of awareness. Not sure anyone else could follow that map and arrive at any distinct destination, because what is there, are just notes, a few words to remind myself of things that have caught my interest, if even only for a moment. They are mile markers made exclusively for myself.
I have, most recently, spent some amount of time telling you a big piece of my personal story. That too, is a type of map of awareness. I used it as an example to underscore and explain my own thoughts about the Wild Things that come to reside within any given individual. One can readily know a lot of things, but that is not the same as being aware of how those things connect one to another. My journal pages are my map toward awareness, the specific points of interest I choose to write on any given day, the ones that seem of importance to me at the moment of writing the page itself. They are, in effect, more extensive notes than those which I keep in that notebook I just mentioned.
My journal pages are filled with emotions about the things I’ve had, or made, contact with in the previous twenty-four hours. They often include colors, smells, detailed images, weather reports, both inside and out, and the way in which I have come to certain conclusions about situations and people. They are a record of the input of my senses as I travel through my life and existence. And yes, some of them are of absolutely no importance to me or anyone else. So why do it at all? Mainly because not all of them have a lack of value in the building of my awareness.
Do you remember the four steps in the learning process (Sept. 7, of this blog)? The second step: We find out what we didn’t know, is that step into awareness, the beginning of that map I am speaking about. Awareness is the first step toward actual knowing and understanding. Without it, we can, and sometimes do, walk through our own lives, without any knowledge of who we are, let alone where we might be going. That, for me, is a very uncomfortable thought.
It immediately reminds me of that first day I came home from the hospital, and found out that nothing would ever be the same. I was changed, and all the rules had been changed about how I belonged inside of that picture called home. Mainly, what I recall is that feeling of deep loss and total disorientation. And those feelings didn’t disappear. On some levels they became a part of my person, affecting the shape and form of my personality that was still developing at the time. A very deep need to know and to understand was born inside of me that day. A Wild Thing, desperate to regain that secure sense and deep desire of knowing that I belonged.
I used the word desperate because it is the only one that fits. I became the little girl with all of the questions. Constantly asking about all things in an attempt to put them in their proper places, and to regain some control. So, all of that seems pretty natural under the circumstances, doesn’t it? Why would I define it as a Wild Thing? Because I grew up, on the tail end of that generation that expected well behaved children to not question what they were told, but simply accept whatever was handed down to them by the all-knowing adults within their environment.
In a very real sense, my personal need of the moment, became one of the Wild Things inside of me. My questing was often frowned upon, dismissed, even ignored, and on occasion, was actually answered by more telling questions. “Why would you ask such a thing, where did you get such a weird idea, or what would make you ask about such utter nonsense?” I learned through those actions, to still and silence many of the questions I was seeking answers for, inadvertently developing yet another need, that one for reassurance.
I had been through surgery, head surgery. My sense of loss was far deeper because of my own lack of understanding. I had had a hole in my head that was patched up, then sewn permanently into my person. What had escaped through that hole? What had seeped out while the doctors had debated about just what they could do to alleviate the problem I had created on that snow-filled afternoon of play with my younger sister? I had, in essence, become a complete question mark to my own person. That is not a place I would wish on anyone.
Many other issues arose from that first step in my developing awareness. Issues that also became Wild Things kept within the confines of the wilderness of my imagination. And please remember, there is nothing so imaginative, or creative, as a four year old child. Nothing.
That was the beginning of my map of awareness. I have backtracked over it, exploring the mile markers that I left in one form or another, on countless numbers of occasions. And inside of that process, I have been told that I think way too much, get way too deeply involved in introspection, know nothing of value or worth because it is all subjective conjecture, and have been called dumb, scatter-brained, and even a liar, completely out of touch with any form of reality.
Many of those things were no more than careless words, thrown out to stop me from exploring my world on the only terms I had at my disposal. Those terms were a mind, a physical brain that had endured a hell of a wallop, and might prove to be defective at any moment. That might actually prove itself to be nothing more than a Wild Thing, needing to be caged, contained away from polite and acceptable society. Oh, my.
My map of awareness has led me to the Wild Things that inhabit my own inner wilderness. A wilderness I share with every thinking, breathing human being that exists on the face of the earth. That wilderness may be as different, as diverse, as the number of those individuals. But, I doubt that, because I am aware of meeting similar Wild Things throughout my journey. Each of them has a story to tell, and they do, expressing it in whatever manner they have developed within that wilderness we share called imagination.
At the center of crisis gone on too many years, I stood there saying over and over, “I don’t know.” What didn’t I know? I’ve lived with myself my whole life, and raised in a strictly authoritarian environment, I learned all the ques for denial and dogged loyalty toward the most menacing personalities in my environment, even those I believed and claimed to be loving. What was that? Was I crazy? No, just well ensconced in habit. And how does one break this “habit” to deny self and obey? Well, they start by saying, “I don’t know!” If they are blessed with the insight and desire for whatever reason, to pick up that thread, timid perhaps at first, but with gusto as one gets a taste for the wonder of the amazing individual they are, well! High Kudos and please continue! One day it was hard. Today, it is amazing, this person I spend time learning and loving within myself. I only hope every human being has the opportunity and the gusto to dare to look for themselves and discover what I discovered.
Hi Karen, good to see you here. And yes, at some point, we must each wake up to the awareness that we are being far less than we can be. Some of us just roll over and go back to sleep, some actually take something to help them get back to sleep, while others lie awake wondering what happened to wake them up in the first place. And it goes on and on, but each of us is responsible for what we ourselves choose to do when that moment comes.