Social self, essential self

We had the most spectacular sunset last night.  It seemed to go on for hours, with an endless display of colors; so gorgeous!  But of course that meant we were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a ferocious thunderstorm -- the inevitable result of clouds that magnificent.  And I learned that a popular restaurant in town burned down this morning; presumably a result of the lightning.

It reminds me a bit of when my girls were in the throes of hitting puberty: any time they were just giddily happy, you always knew they were heading for an extremely steep fall.  It's no wonder we grow up learning to censor our highs and lows -- part of the development of what Martha Beck calls in Finding Your Own North Star "the social self." 

The social self is useful, of course; it's what helps us function as civilized productive members of society.  But we can't continue listening just to the social self at the expense of the essential self, the self that knows what we want, what we love, what we were born to do.  Because the essential self has a direct connection to the body, if it goes ignored too long it is QUITE capable of derailing the social self with any number of tricks. 

I feel quite certain, for example, that the fact that my knee gave out last weekend, preventing me from going to serve again as artist-in-residence at my daughter's camp, was probably my body's way of keeping me from going -- not that I knew that's what I wanted, but I did (despite my sadness at not spending a week on Orcas with my daughter) find a certain sense of relief. 

Which just confirms that thought I had a couple of weeks ago: I really need to start paying attention to that essential self, listening to what she wants.  Because (she says, having received 2 rejections, one for a play and one for photos, in the last 24 hours, not to mention the three job applications that seem to have fallen through the cracks) something isn't quite going right, and I think I may have gotten off track.  Time to listen for what I'm meant to be doing...


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