I woke up this morning and picked up a book I have called “Facets of Unity – The Enneagram of Holy Ideas” and started reading in it. As I read, I came across a passage which directly spoke to the experience I’ve been having lately, so much so that I actually felt some relief, as if I’m not fully alone in this process. Here’s a part of it:
“The first step of this process in dealing with any sector of the ego has two parts. The first is becoming aware of – actually perceiving and experiencing – the particular belief or identification that constitutes the structure. The second is the dissolution of that facet of the ego structure. The latter is the most difficult one in the process of transformation, since it means letting go of part of one’s identity, and this surrendering can be experienced as a dissolution, a disintegration, a fragmentation, or a sense that you are falling apart. This juncture can be very painful or frightening because the old sense of your identity is crumbling and falling away and you don’t know what – if anything – will take its place. What you’ve held on to has felt real to you, and now you’re letting it go and heading into what feels like unknown and uncharted territory. It feels like jumping into an abyss and it can be terrifying.”
It’s amazing because I think I’ve said just about all of those things over the past few weeks, feeling like there is a dissolution or disintegration happennng yet not knowing what I am or what form I will take (see More Like the Butter, Less Like the Fly). I also had a couple of very intense dreams the night before last, one where I was in a place which was being bombed and the only way to survive was to run to where the bombs were landing, and the other which had me precariously perched above an abyss literally clinging to the side of a cliff using both of my hands and feet. If I were to let go, it would mean a falling into the abyss below. To interpret it according to the concepts of the paragraph above, letting go into the abyss would mean a letting go of past identity. Whoa….., it’s certainly more easily said than done, but the truth is, I have been letting go of a past identity and thus I’ve been having a very intimate relationship with this abyss. For more on my letting go of an identity of mine that has been happening lately, you can reference (Plate Spinning and the Truth).
I’ve had a faith that this place that I have been lately has been right where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been hearing from a few friends that they are worried for me and that they love the old Ted that they’ve known. I do deeply appreciate their concern, but trust me this is right where I’m supposed to be and anything else would be a step back in the wrong direction. I am reminded of befriending an African American man named Igor who was living on the streets in the Financial District of San Francisco. We would often eat lunch together and he had one of the dearest hearts of any person I have ever met in my life. One day I asked him what it was like asking for money down there in the Financial District and he told me that he felt sorry for the people working there because they seemed so worried and were always moving so fast. This beggar who was the youngest of 18 children ( I asked him a few different times to make sure he stuck to that story), who had pulmonary disease to the point where he couldn’t continue with his window washing business and easily became tired, who created an intricate home of cardboard on Sutter Street every night to sleep – he was the one who had compassion for everyone else. I’m touched again even thinking about it.
I know I’m getting a little far afield right now, but there is one more story about Igor (see photo at left) that I want to share. On the last and final day of my formal business working life back in 2001, I left the office and was brimming with joy and liberation. I looked around for and found Igor and told him what had happened and together we danced a jig, a happy dance of celebration, alternating the interlocking of our right elbows and then the left. He had to stop after about 20 seconds because he became winded, but to this day it is one of the sweetest moments and memories of my life.