Entering the Gila Forest, I feel as if the boulders, trees, pinyon jays, soil, icy puddles, coyote scat, everything, are part of an elaborate theater set. I hear a helicopter overhead and imagine the pilot seeing a smattering of humans and their canines below at various places on the road and off - stage left and stage right. The hollow sounds of fists knocking on tree trunks or dog paws treading over terrain reinforce this feeling of construction. It is quiet out here, like a vacuum. Who would create such a set, and why? What am I doing in it? If I change the set a little, could I alter the play? What an interesting thought. If I move a few moss covered rocks here or there and enact a small ceremony, will I change the fabric of the world, constructed or otherwise?
I am working on a detox regimen: How to cleanse the self of institutions.
The process will vary with each individual. However, as with other detox regimens, skin eruptions, emotional pain, physical discomfort, cravings for safety and certainty, temptations to “go back,” as well as openings to new and unfamiliar sensations and/or gifts, are likely.
It helps to have a circle of support, others who have painstakingly deinstitutionalized and can share their life experiences, ask questions of you, and offer encouragement on the doubtful days. Even one person can make a difference.
Anything is possible.
There is a scene in the film, “Off the Map,” in which the actor Jim True-Frost realizes that a story he was told about himself as a child, which he had believed since childhood, may not have been true. I thought about the significance of that scene today while out walking.
First, I thought about the blind trust we place in those around us to tell the truth and what happens when/if we learn that they have not.
Second, I thought about stories of self and how significant they are. What I say and do, who I love, the possibilities I imagine for self and world, and so on, are based on stories I have either been told about myself, or stories that I tell myself. If it is a faulty story that I am carrying, imagine the outcome.
I reflect on the myriad stories societies tell about groups of people, and the projections of stories made daily by loved ones. I make a commitment to clear out my own story house, with love and discernment, and to allow both self and other to be new in each moment.
What if relentless self-help and self-scrutiny are addictions based on the lie that who we are right now, in this very moment, is not enough?
I use creative non-fiction, autobiographical fiction, and poetry to communicate, connect, and understand.