I first wrote this entry for its therapeutic value. I grew up clueless and highly disconnected when it came to emotional inner reality. To make matters worse, I never paid attention to the consequences of this nameless, soul-killing condition I am about to describe.

Leo Tolstoy, an awe-inspiring writer of classic literature masterly portrayed this phenomena in his novel “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”. In the story he reveals society’s commitment to emotional dishonesty (the antonym of emotional inner awareness) where everyone is wanting the main character, Ivan to believe he would pull through his sickness when all evidence was proving contrary. In the end, death not only related to the physical realm, but an extreme emotional disconnection from others. As one literary commentator wrote,

“The artificial life is marked by shallow relationships, self-interest, and materialism. It is insular, unfulfilling, and ultimately incapable of providing answers to the important questions in life. The artificial life is a deception that hides life’s true meaning and leaves one terrified and alone at the moment of death.”

Since the beginning of my childhood, life, like the robotic walking brooms from Fantasia, kept sweeping my feelings under the carpet. When anyone attempted to draw me out (even as an adult), I froze with discomfort. I never imagined how this frozenness could melt. I never dreamed how creative expression could pave the way to new awareness. I never considered myself worthy of this elusive yet necessary realm called emotional inner reality. ~ vincenzo ©

The beauty of an imaginative soul is the power to visualize hope even when reality is insipid and cold. Some refer to this quality as faith. Sometimes all we have to sustain us is an inner belief that one day love and truth will prevail.

~ vincenzo ©

“Life is not a matter of changing our temperament, but learning to manage the one we have.” ~ vincenzo ©

It was one of those rainy days when my daughter had experienced a chaotic drama rehearsal. It made her want to pack up and quit theatre altogether. Unlike my usual self, the following words occurred to me:

“In an ideal world, people show up on time, people never get upset and everything works perfectly, but that is rarely the reality we live. How much can we learn from those that are unruffled when everything seems to be falling apart. How beautiful it is to transcend circumstances rather than let them dictate how we feel, act or respond.”

~ vincenzo

Insecure love – that choppy, messed-up way of caring – operates from extreme to extreme in families: tossing us about from royal treatment to out-of-control behaviour. It is like looking through whale eyes. You cannot see what is in front of you, but only from lateral sides – each view completely different from the other. On one side all is peace and love; on the other wretched hail storms of emotion. And so the pendulum swings from one side to the other … blindsided or harpooned.

I entered teaching where conflict intervention was mandatory. The ups and downs produced sea-sickening panic attacks. I always excelled as a student, but this new kind of test exacerbated my nerves. I either flew under the radar or risked losing control. I didn’t seem to have any middle ground.

Don’t ask me how I learned more redemptive responses. I haven’t reached that far in my contemplations.

~ vincenzo

wishful

One Toronto morning while strolling through a nearby drug store, I noticed this greeting card by artist Gary Larson. The caption read, “Wish I’d brought a magazine”. Through this fuddy-duddy* caricature, Larson injected a stinging indictment on religion. That pathetic figure loomed large in my mind and embossed itself into the wall of my personal art gallery ever since.

I came to a painful awareness I devoted much time to church and religious activities and yet something was amiss. On one side I see people who want to live a life of love without God.  On the other, I see a pseudo religious piety devoid of love.

Literary writers have described this insular effect as a superficial understanding about oneself, about others and about our true nature. We seem to make excuses and resist our true calling to journey inwardly or spiritually. We dread discovering what’s below the surface. However, to the extent we avoid this journey, we invite shallowness of personhood and the ultimate possibility of a broken-world experience.

~ vincenzo

* fuddy-duddy = old-fashioned person
Synonyms:
conservative, geezer, old fogy, old geezer, square

Some of us believe we have to have someone beside ourselves to tell us how wonderful we are or else we go into a state of deep sadness. With our self-esteem extrinsically based, the idea of being loved gives us a feeling of euphoria, but on the flip side, we plunge into despair whenever the positive feedback pauses or ceases altogether. We often needlessly carry these intense feelings inside in self-punishing ways.

This inner state of turmoil is quite common and many people around us experience similar bouts of anguish, so we need not despair into believing we are some awful phenomenon who is destined to live in the shadows without hope for finding enduring love. What we need to recognize is that the most formidable obstacle is inside us. It’s also helpful to choose friends who will bring out the best in us so we feel secure around them.

~ vincenzo