As I woke and rose this morning, gratitude was present but hibernating underneath the tarps and blankets of the “What’s Wrong” cataloguing crew.
It’s as if there is a psychic equivalent of lymphocytes roving through our mind-scape–turning over every stone (and often uprooting flowers of joy and wonder)—in their myopic quest to seek and neutralize trouble (past and future). Just as in physical autoimmune disorders, these can over proliferate and turn the psyche upon itself, generate a story of chronic emergency that begets a culture of woe.
I’m grateful that as I puttered in the kitchen, I became conscious of the subtle and pervasive shadow broadcast by these little soldiers–grateful that at least I have become conscious of what went on unconsciously for decades.
As I was chopping vegetables, I caught myself–zones of my body– almost posturing a breathless salute to the propaganda, turning my own body and psyche into a soldier for the cause of chronic victimhood. This happened because I detected an irrepressible part of me admiring the head of cauliflower I was handling. And, just as quickly, I registered the cloud of suppression there to smother that, generated by an automated guard of defended-ness–a smog of the quiet rancor hanging over a heart set against a mad world. And I recognized that some time in vanishing history, this had become my psyche’s “default setting.” This impulse was so general, so accustomed, so seemingly natural that it masqueraded as a constitutional trait. But it isn’t.
From experience, I know I can switch channels, select another lens through which to focus my attention, my light. I can choose differently. Moreover, there is the hope this repeated over-riding will reset the default.
This background hum of pessimism is a trait shared with those who populated my formative environments. I remember characters and institutions throughout my life that exuded this mood and attitude, convincing me it was normal, natural, sensible.
It is simply conditioning, inheritance. And I am innocent and forgiven.
And I am willing to be grateful, even though I lament that I automatically default to ingratitude as an áffect I took on somewhere: one which, in spite of ample transcendent wisdom, still colors my world; one for which I have not yet been able to access the settings and permanently alter the default.
As I feel into it, I recognize it as preemptive anger, a way of protecting the heart with a camouflage of cynicism. It is so very subtle; but it is constrictive, the way the fingers curl around to protect the tender pads and palm of the hand.
Without it, when I choose differently, the soft self naturally opens and swells with rising wonder and innocence. The ground of being dissolves from parched earth into a dew-drenched moss beatitude. And I am so lucky to be able to feel that. It is Life.