Monday, June 9, 2008

Where the Ivy Used to Be



I love the pervasive theme in the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven (starring the adorable Orlando Bloom): that people are what they do. I like that idea and think it's true. In addition to what we actually do, we humans spend a lot of time telling ourselves (and each other) who we are based on ideas we have about ourselves.

All my years in psychotherapy served to help me readjust the stories I tell myself about myself. It helped me go a long ways towards resolving some piece of the disparity between story and experience.

My work with the brilliant Sufi acupuncturist has taken this process a big step further. Lately I've been able to look underneath the stories. I've been able to drop down into a quiet place of no words, a realm in which I can perceive the structural underpinnings of my storytelling apparatus, the energy from which my storytelling originates. It's a very revealing place to visit.



I've been looking at the emotional and energetic states from which my stories arise, asking myself how my stories serve me. One really amazing revelation is that anxiety, worry, and anger all "help" me gather energy. Unfortunately it's a hollow energy that comes mostly from my adrenal function, but when I'm depleted and don't have any "real" energy, if I work myself into a state of great anxiety, I can push through whatever tasks are at hand. It's not a sustainable plan. Later I always crash. Adrenal based energy is always exhausting because it has no center. It has no ground. It's a flash in the pan, meant only for emergencies.

When I access adrenal energy, life feels like an emergency. That feeling is the "true" source of my heinous stories of doom and disaster, stories I then begin to believe, even though the stories are a result of the anxiety, not the underlying cause. Balanced, "authentic" energy comes from well digested food, good sleep, and heart-connections with others. The stories that arise from what I think of as authentic energy are hopeful, loving and expansive. These stories are not exhausting.

Blah blah blah. I do go on, don't I? The pic at the top of the post is a perfect illustration of what I've been up to, staring intently at the place in my life where the ivy used to be. It's not there anymore. I can start fresh. You know, not all ivy is nice. Some varieties are downright mean. Maybe this time, instead of ivy, I'll grow roses. Oh yeah! Why not?

14 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

the play of light, shadow and traces of past in that top picture is indeed lovely as is the analogy too..... oh do go on....

Ernest de Cugnac said...

So agree with mouse. That first photo "of what is not" is utterly wonderful.

Steve said...

Reya, really, you are so Buddhist! :) You captured the whole idea of emptiness -- how we're really empty of all the fixed characteristics we assign ourselves, because NOTHING is really fixed. As you said, those characteristics are all part of an idea, a story.

What a beautiful post!

Susan said...

In a word ... impermanence. Thanks for sharing. I needed this today.

IntangibleArts said...

That headline would make a perfect song title...... may I? I'll offer buy the rights with a pint of ale at the pubby of yr.choice. Or two? eh? eh?

Aileen said...

Oh, I love Intangible's idea! I think this is a perfect inspiration for a song!!

lettuce said...

that makes a lot of sense, the adrenal energy thing - i can identify with that, at least a bit.

i love the ivy ghost-shadow picture, i always look at those patterns on houses. You're right, some ivy is downright mean.

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve? Thank you! Wow. I'm BuddhistJewishPaganChristianShamanic, aka spiritual anarchist, radical monotheist, or (my friend Copper's name) monist.

Thanks ya'll for the nice feedback. When I write these little personal essays, I always wonder if they're fit to be blog posts. For some people, they are.

Nice.

Reya Mellicker said...

Intangible? The name is yours, for two pints at the Heights. Saturday?? Gotta meet Gomez, catch up with ya'll. ??

Washington Cube said...

Ivy is insidious. It destroys brick and stone. It kills trees. I've got it back in my yard after fighting it for years. If I could warn novice gardeners away from problems I would say, "Never allow willow, maple, trumpet vine, bamboo or ivy in your yard. Also Rose of Shannon, bindweed and kudzu."

I haven't done any yardwork this year. My neighbors are "talking." When I admitted to not having done one thing they gasped. Talk about changing yourself. My forlorn clematis tells the story.

I look at your ivy picture and think "I rest my case." Nice wisteria vine, btw.

Reya Mellicker said...

Cube only you would recognize the wysteria vine. (The All-Seeing Eye.) Nice to give your neighbors a topic of conversation. Bravo!

My friend who has the cabin in the Whitings Neck of W. Virginia is also wary of maples. They take over everything.

Trumpet vines killed two trees in my yard in San Francisco.

Bamboo? Forget it!

Nature is persistent, even relentless. Human nature, too!

d. chedwick said...

Maples can be wonderful (Like sugar maples) or kind of selfish (like Norwegian Maples that suck up every bit of water) our Norwegian maples drop a ZILLION propeller pods and 10% take root. ten percent of a zillion is a lot.


anyway I wanted to comment on the first photo, I liked it a lot for several reasons, just the way it looks, the heat of it, the finger nails on blackboard feeling we sometimes get in our gut when we pull the ivy off of our lives, and the pretty color of it.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks Ched. It is a strenuous process, but always worth it.

lucy said...

the adrenal energy vs healthy energy makes so much sense to me, too...well-articulated point. the adrenaline of last-minuteness is my drug.

and your personal musings are much more interesting to me...i'm more of a portrait fancier than a landscape fan.