I used to scan my environment to try to assess the terrain. The terrain was dense. The terrain is always dense. To sense everything present in any given situation would take a superhuman level of observation, presence, attunement and attention to detail. While I am
now deconstructing this process that took up much of my youth, young adulthood and probably much of the time into my 30’s, I could not have told you I was doing this for most of that time. It happened so fast, so immediately, I was barely conscious of it. It was almost automatic, somehow out of my control. I was aware, however, of how it made me feel. I felt like a chameleon. Ever changing and adapting to its environment, the chameleon transforms itself as a means of protection, a way of blending in so as to become one with its surroundings, making it nearly impossible to see, or to single out. This protective adaptation prevented the chameleon from being attacked and devoured by predators; its ability to scan the terrain and blend in was the most essential component of its survival, and the precision of this assessment meant the difference between life and death.
Though I was never able to attain this level of precision, this exactitude in my assessment of varied environments, I continued to try, despite the almost certain reality that in some way I would fall short. And falling short meant death. So in chameleon terms, I’ve died 1000 deaths.
And while I have (metaphorically and/or in the soul murdering way) died 1000 deaths, I have also found a way to return, physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually, to myself, again and again. The external world remains elusive and unpredictable and contains many unknowns, many things out of our control and many dangers we can only do our best to confront as they appear in both big and small ways. I have learned and re-learned that facing my fears and confronting these things—the ones that seem most out of my reach, out of my control and perhaps even in some ways the most dangerous—in other words pro-actively moving into the discomfort— is perhaps the key principle in the maintenance of my own sanity, stability and self love. The only way out is through. Moving into fear and out-of-control-
ness is not a simple, clean or easy process. Even as time goes on and I practice this principle daily, while I no longer avoid things completely nor do I allow danger or fear of the unknown to completely take over any one aspect of my life; it’s still a challenge, it’s often messy and its still uncomfortable. I have found, however, that it has helped me find, own and honor with some consistency my own inner truth. It has afforded me the courage and ability to continue to take healthy risks; it has provided the motivation to cultivate in an ongoing way my evolving inner voice. Creative self expression, effectively communicating, sharing and developing new ideas and confronting conflicts as they arise.