Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What I Really Really Want

"Hurt Pharmacy Open" Mar Vista, LA January 2013
Around Christmas, I had a series of wonderful conversations with my best friend about what we miss. We both find Christmas - the holidays in general - a lonely time. It's midwinter, dark, and people we love/chosen family, leave town to be with their families of origin. We'd say we miss our families of origin, but spending time with them is never what we hope? expect? it to be. We still feel lonely afterwards, no matter how wonderfully it goes, which sometimes, it actually does.

Maybe it's just pure craving, unfatiguable and unsatisfied by nature. We talked about the hungry ghost image of Buddhism - creatures, or aspects of our selves, who have tiny throats and huge stomachs. They simply cannot consume enough to satisfy their cravings. It's a Hell realm, for Buddhism, an extreme suffering way of being.

In the end, however, she and I both connected to an understanding that we are looking for some childhood state that may or may never have existed. Christmas, in particular, brings this out - wanting gifts, wanting lights, wanting to be surprised. We found little ways to do that for ourselves and each other, and once we identified that the craving was truly for something we would never have again, we could mourn it and it could abate.

Temporarily, anyway.

I've been on retreat in LA (at the Westside Shambhala Center in Mar Vista, staying in Eagle Rock) for the last few days and it was very vulnerable making. In a very powerful and small group of people, mostly women, we made art together, talked about exercises and presenting Shambhala Art/Dharma Art materials to others. The group was mostly teachers, including a strong central LA contingent of folks who have really striven to make these structures protect the teachings on art and life by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. At the end, I related that in Miksang, I experienced a divorce-like split upon entering (read more in my recent posting at elephant journal here). Now, coming into Shambhala Art more fully, I feel like I am entering into a lovely marriage, stable and full.

Yesterday, I tooled around the LA I hadn't previously seen with a good friend - Beverly Hills, Malibu, Venice Beach - the kinds of places I've seen signs for here but hadn't seen, the kinds of places I have lots of signifiers for but no signified personal experience. It's weird, I won't deny it, to drive down Mulholland Drive. My wife related that she thought because LA has been in films and talked about more than even Paris or New York, there's a quality of "This really can't be real" to the place. It's true.

At night, curled up in my guest bed, I felt a deep sadness, a deep loneliness. A sad joy - I'd had a very rich and full day, but also talked deeply with my driving friend about loss of parents (she lost her mom early on). I suddenly heard myself say "I miss my daddy."

My dad died when I was 12. I am 35 now. I don't really miss him when I miss him, usually, unless it's a specific memory. I was holding a tiny purple dinosaur I got when with him, so I wondered if that was it - a child-like toy, thinking about family so much. But then I gently did some self-inquiry.
What do you really want?
I really want my daddy.
What does he mean?
Protection and safety and comfort.
What can we do right now to get that?
Turn on the heater (LA is surprisingly cold, even though I came from Wisconsin).
Ok. Done. What else?
I want to know I am safe.
You are safe. The door is locked, your hosts are very kind and all is well.

I felt a great relief, finding underneath what I really really wanted, wearing the face of a father-craving. A therapist once noted that I missed my parents whenever I got sad - sometimes the grief would seem so all consuming that it would mask any other pain. Now I look for what is underneath, what is hiding in the story of having lost my parents at such a young age.

It's not easy, and my self-inquiries are best done with others who love me, and done very, very gently. But when I can get to what I really really want, I find meeting those needs are nearly never impossible. And simply hearing what it really desired can quell the desire itself, instead of fanning the flames with impossible situations, like having my father back, or being five again at Christmas, my family all around me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you are learning how to be there for yourself, bring to yourself whatever you are longing for in your parents. I have been having to learn similar methods in dealing with myself when I hit a certain level of sleep deprivation (that should happen in around 3 hrs) and I almost have to play little deception games with myself like you do with kids to get them to cooperate. I don't tie it explicitly to my parents, though.