Credit for the title goes, of course, to Mötley Crüe. From time to time, I’m asked why it is I listen to music–particularly the stripe of music I lean towards–so loud and so often. One of the myriad reasons (besides the whole love music thing) is that music can help me drown out the committee in my brain for a while. Now, it’s not always this reason, and I can’t afford to use music strictly to hide, as I did with alcohol, but I vividly recall practically living on Godsmack’s “Whatever” while fighting with my first major professor while writing my Master’s thesis (and, if I recall correctly, before my comps for that degree).*
In the course of meditating, I’ve found a couple of repetitive habits of mind. There are, naturally, song cycles, often dependent on what I’ve been listening to recently, but, and not infrequently, the iZazen™ will queue up something that I need to hear, but have been ignoring in day-to-day life. Sometimes I even get blessed moments of silence, when the committee decides to cease commentary for a few moments. Stuff that I’ve shoved into my HP box–you know, the stuff I’ve turned over?–will generally pop up, particularly if there was something I kind of hoped would come of an event or action, even though, in theory, I shouldn’t concern myself with what happens, since that part is outside my limited sphere of influence.
Also, I will almost always–particularly with longer meditation sessions–think about blogging. Some idea that at that moment is guaranteed to be THE MOST IMPORTANT THOUGHT EVER (those of you who have made forays into psychoactive substances may find this particular habit of mind quite familiar. To quote a favorite guitarist**, “I cure cancer and then forget how I did it”). I think (I can’t be sure, since I don’t look at the clock) that this particular habit pops up when I’ve been sitting for at least 15 minutes–about the time my brain decides that we’ve had about enough of this madness, thank you, go do something!
Invariably, I can’t really recall what it was that seemed so necessary to write, or, as with today, the I recall the topic, but not the particular flights of utter brilliance. See also Shel Silverstein:
I wrote such a beautiful book for you
‘Bout rainbows and sunshine
And dreams that come true.
But the goat went and ate it
(You knew that he would),
So I wrote you another one
Fast as I could.
Of course it could never be
Nearly as great
As that beautiful book
That silly goat ate.
So if you don’t like
This new book I just wrote-
Blame the goat.
Or, for the more Romantically (yes, that is capitalized on purpose) minded of you, go check out Coleridge’s preface to “Kubla Khan”. In other words, I can’t possibly be held accountable for this drivel.
One of the other habits of mind is not altogether unrelated from something my sponsor told me the other day. “You know,” she said in her terribly calm, perfectly poised way, “you really shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.” It happens that, though when she said it I had to stop myself from crying like a hormonal 16-year-old fangirl (I know something of that particular stripe), the LOVE OF WHOSE (whom’s??) LIFE HAS…(oh, just fill in the blanks. Got married, had sex, fired a band member, been fired, you name it. All met with similar flights of tearful rage). I stopped myself because we were in public, and I do try to not scare the straights.
My response to her remark struck me as a tad odd (though, on the whole, I’m feeling about as raw as the above mentioned hormonal 16-year-old), because I don’t necessarily think of myself as exceptionally self-critical (except, you know, when I am) because I tend to regard myself as too lazy for self-criticism.
Go ahead. Read that again.
While I am meditating, my resident librarian, who is also, of course, trying to get me off my duff (smirk) to do something, also pitches all manner of things to remind me of how much I suck. How lazy, thoughtless, unkind, you-name-it-I’ve-got-an-example-of-it I am. I should, for example, find something meaningful to do with my life (not that I have any concrete notion what meaningful is supposed to be, but apparently it has a great deal to do with martyrdom). That I simultaneously regard myself as too lazy for self-criticism and engage in it constantly shouldn’t surprise anyone, since I am fully capable of believing contradictory thoughts; for example, I’m not smart enough to have a Ph.D. Let’s unpack this for a second, since I do, in fact, have that particular degree. My assumption about myself necessarily implies that I was either brilliant enough to snow my graduate faculty or that they were equally stupid, suggesting as much misanthropy as self-criticism. Or (this is a personal favorite), I’m not worthy of his love. This particular assumption holds at its heart an incredible devaluing of someone else’s capacity for love and or judgement. Again, either I’ve snowed him (’cause, you know, I’m so good at that) into believing I’m someone else entirely** and/or he’s a fool. Again with the misanthropy.
One can extend that to whomever and however. I can completely melt down over an assumption that someone is only pretending to like me (and, imagine what this suggests about them and me–why would anyone bother? What in the world do I have to offer that would necessitate or encourage such mendacity?).
And I know that I am not what I think (that was a stunning realization for me)–these thoughts crop up, but if I let them go, they really will wander off of their own volition.
So, my confession (which ya’ll already knew, but I’m supposed to say these things): I can’t stand my Self (whomever that may be), even though I find my Self to be, at times, appealingly (or, at least, amusingly) quirky. So, now what? How in the world do I work toward coming to terms with self?
*I wrote this paragraph last, so this example is a pretty good one for the remarks that follow. We were eventually told that we clearly could not work together. Yeah. Understatement.
**Yes, guitarist. I do have one.