Thursday, May 13, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough

Into each life, a little rain must fall. As Kenaz points out in his Hagalaz post,* sometimes it's frozen, weighs a couple of pounds and hits you in the head at terminal velocity.

It seems like there's something going around these days where people are dealing with their fears, insecurities, and other general anxieties more than usual. It's like there's been a hail storm going through some people's spheres of influence that leaves them wounded and wondering why.

My personal method of dealing with these kinds of issues is "Suck it up." I tried to explore my own issues in a sensitive and compassionate way for a while, and I quickly realized that life sucks as much for honest pussies as it does for braggadocios. All that introspection and looking for rational support for my momentary anxieties just left me with more resentment towards my parents than they objectively deserved.

These days when the hail comes I deal with things like a man: I mask my fear in anger, and then when no one's looking I go to the bathroom and cry like a baby.

Once that's out of the way, I start trying to put things into perspective. Clearing out my mind of the momentary wash of emotion and illogic helps get me to a point where I can start planning my way out of the situation using magical or mundane means as necessary. Getting to that point is the hard part.

The following techniques help me out a lot.

Know what you Fear - The root of all fear, I think, is "ignorance of outcome." When I get scared, I try to remember that I've been through shit before, and I'll have shit to go through again. It might be miserable while I deal with whatever's going on, but then it will pass and I'll have some breathing room before the next shit storm cometh. The worst thing that could happen probably will, and I'll probably get through that too. I have so far, anyway. No reason to expect it to be any different this time. If I do die, get fired, get beat up, or even worse, get publicly humiliated, in eternity I really won't be bothered by it anymore, so sooner or later... This too shall pass.

Compassion - When dealing with those who have wronged us, it's easy to look at their actions and pretend they're completely and totally as evil as they must be to do whatever they did to us. I try to take a step back, and remember they're an extension of the same Source that I am. Yeah, they may be fucked up to fuck with me, but I'm damaged too. For them to be so hurtful, they must have either misunderstood me, or they're just mean because their lives suck. This understanding eventually leads to forgiveness. Most of the time.

Compartmentalize - One of the nice things about being a magician is that I can take a look at things and figure out what planetary or elemental sphere they are exhibiting most at any given moment. The process of analyzing a thing or a situation, putting it into little boxes with neat little names reminds me that things are all working together according to a system with rules and behaviors that I have studied and am familiar with. As a result, I can get a better perspective.

Detach - Once things are compartmentalized, I like to see how I'm attached to them, and if it ain't right, cut that bitch off. Detachment isn't a negative trait, it's a really good one when applied properly. Some people think the result of detaching from desires in your life results in apathy, and that's not true at all. That's just an illusion that keeps you trapped in your desires. Look at what's making you scared, or angry, be brutally honest with yourself. It's always something that you WANT that you aren't getting. (Like, to LIVE when you're getting beaten to death, yous selfish bastard.)

Detach from the WANT. Accept that things are going to be exactly what they are (I promise you they will be regardless), and that even if you don't think you WANT them to be what they are, there will be something about the real life reality of what you GET that is enjoyable, unless you're all attached to what you wanted it to be instead.

I've been accused recently of not really caring about people and things in my life because I don't get all worked up about most of it. What people fail to see is that I have detached from the desires for things to be other than they are, and as a result I can fully enjoy what I have for what it is.

You can't be stupid though, and believe me, I've been stupid before, it sucks. Not being attached to a desire for things to be different is not the same as not wanting to improve things to have them reach their full potential. You just have to make sure that you understand what a thing is, and what its true potential is. You can't lie to yourself or cling to hope that an El Camino can become as cool as a Stingray if you paint it smoke gray and tint the windows. It just ain't gonna happen. But you can take your El Camino and fix the engine, change the fluids, repair the radiator, throw in some shag carpet and dangle balls, chop it down, throw in some custom hydraulics, paint it white and have a custom big ol' picture of the Sacred Heart of Christ painted on the hood and roll out on a Saturday night having a good time with your cholos.

You know, keep it real.

Detach from the lies of your WANT, and you're free to address what you have.

* Kenaz' posts on the runes are awesome. I love the treatment he gives each one, and even though I don't use Runes, I actually wanted to start after reading his posts. He understands that each is not a symbol of an impersonal force, but an actual spirit who can be conjured. Realizing this about the Aleph-Bet revealed a lot to me a few years ago, and in his treatment of the runes, Kenaz provides a wealth of information that can be gleaned no matter what tradition you operate from.