It's Halloween, and the stores and streets are littered with skulls, ghosts, pumpkins, black cats, witches, and endless variations of black and orange. It's all about what scares us, and of course a lot of what scares us is death.
But lately I've been listening to CDs of a Pema Chodron talk called "Getting Unstuck," and I have to say -- coming up against your own "stuff" can be every bit as scary as one of those Halloween symbols. And -- wouldn't you know it -- as soon as I hear about it, there it is, staring me in the face!
So she talks about "shenpa," a word that means stuck, attached, caught, trapped; those thought patterns that keep you going round and round... And this morning I found myself thinking "I'm stuck on a shenpa merry-go-round: I keep going up and down and round and round and I can't seem to get off the track, out of the rut."
It's a simple thing, really: I tried out for a play last week. I made callbacks, they gave me three scenes to study, different roles to prepare for, and I showed up excited about the parts. Only I didn't get to read for any of them (though other people did). I only got to cold-read something I hadn't prepared for; something someone else had clearly already prepared for and done better.
And it threw me onto that merry-go-round, I'm embarrassed to say: I kept going round and round. Why didn't I get to read? Had I offended someone? Did the perfect people for those roles show up after my audition? Or are they so familiar with my work they don't need to see me act?
I could say they screwed up, but really -- they only have 3 hours for callbacks and a lot of roles to fill. If there are things they already know, they just confuse the issue and waste time running scenes they've already secured.
It's not them, it's me. So I get to watch myself on the merry-go-round, watch where I go, watch myself get totally stuck, completely debilitated by my desperate urge to please, my fear of conflict, my projections of authority, my insecurities -- you name it, all the haunts and shadows that plague me are dancing on that revolving platform, personal skeletons clattering out there in plain sight while I hold onto that little wooden pony, thrust helplessly up and down and around...
I'm better now: Pema Chodron at least helps me understand what's going on -- which allows some wiser part of me to step off onto solid ground and watch the rest of my brain spin out of control. With time and a little distance it even becomes amusing -- and of course, it helps that I got the part I cold-read for. But it's always amusing, when we think we're finally getting it together, to see how easily we can be derailed; how easily the demons can be unleashed.
But, oh, boy. Talk about scary! The mind is an amazing thing...