The Layers

“Leave me alone!” I screamed from beneath my layered blankets. “Just go away!”

They wouldn’t. They just kept pounding at that door, never giving me a moment’s peace.

The Voices are maddening. I want to fly. They tell me it’s too high up there. I want to sing. They tell me I’m way off-key. I want to smile. They tell me there is nothing to smile about.

Fuck them. When the hell did I give them control, anyway? I don’t remember, but everywhere I look there are signs of who’s boss. The clothes I wear, the way I talk, the words I choose, each of which I’ve pretended to choose for me while really doing so for them. Even the walls and doors are methods of their control. They own me, and I’m just starting to see it.

I hide under the thick blankets I pretend are parts of me. I relish in their warmth, in their thickness. Here, the sounds are muffled and the light dimmed. The darkness rules, and sometimes we are fooled into believing that there is great security when we simply cannot see a thing.

Yet, those layers I heap upon my fearful self for protection are nothing more than shackles to hold me down. Some may judge the clouds a place where fools play, but I find the very ideas that holds us firm to something nothing more than a prison. Some may find my notes and words much to their dislike, but I find heaven in that release. They may find my smile reminds them of a long-lost friend, but I surely have no need to pretend I am saddened in the departure.

Thus it goes, on and on. The Voices pound away at the door over and over again. I’m beginning to think they don’t want me to open it, they want it shut. Maybe they don’t want me out from under my cocoon. Maybe they want me to add even more layers to the shroud.

I laugh hard as I somehow see the walls to the layers I’ve embraced. How limiting they are! They’re weighty, almost suffocating in their pressure, and I marvel at how I never have seen them this way before. I could feel their weight and struggle under their pressure without ever truly seeing them. I sit and stare at nothing in amazement.

I reach out to push outward, and get pushed back. I thrash and flail against these surly confines only to get more entangled in the mess. I feel the rush of anger as I scream and yell, only to be deafened by the noise of my own turmoil.

Finally, I become exhausted, and have no choice but to sit there, still. I have no choice but to breathe. I have no choice but to stop the fight.

In the stillness, I finally stop focusing on the nasty shroud I have entangled myself in. I just want to rest, to sleep, to let my dreams take me somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. I want to be, there, with you – the absent traveler who may be entangled in a prison of her own.

Someday, love, but for now I have some work to do. That work looks much like nothing. A realized man’s virtue is that he never, ever, stops.

In the dark hell of my own design I surrender. My fight has left me no choice, and the war is over even if the battle has only just begun.

My eyes open again, and I only see the darkness that has befallen me. I move nothing, and I just sit with three eyes open, at peace with what I see. Perhaps this is the end of me, perhaps it is only the beginning. Maybe, it is both happening at the very same instant.

Somehow, I see a light. Like a beacon on heaven’s shore, it’s there. My eyes are brought to focus on this star, intensely feeding on its promise, completely open to the cause of its design. Was it always there? How did I miss it? Could I have been so focused on the drama, on the chaos of my stormy seas, that I overlooked the very method of my own rescue?

A flash, a crack, and the sound of rolling thunder.

“How sweet the sound…was blind and now I see…”

The twinkling light grows larger with each peaceful breath I take.

“Do nothing,” something inside me says, “just do nothing.”

I listen. I sit. I breathe. I watch. I allow. I do, nothing.

The light continues to grow. Bit by bit the darkness surrenders too. I wonder if the darkness could fight back, if it could overwhelm the light just in its size and experience. It seems, though, the both the darkness and the light are not experienced curses by which we are enslaved, but wonderful teachers of which we must experience. Neither exists without the other, and neither was born or dies to suit a need of human ego. They are in perfect harmony, allowing us all to focus on which we want to experience.

In our focus they grow. In our observations, they live. In our dedication, they thrive. Neither grows on its own but exists in the power of our own attention, in our own intention. Love the light, and find it difficult to see the darkness. Worship the past, and miss the present moment.

Do the opposite, well, you know. You may have your doubts, but it’s hard to argue this truth.

Finally, I am ready. One deep sigh and I stand, shaking the cobwebs from my legs and letting the blood flow once again. Another deep breath and a chuckle, and it is time to leave this place.

Wait. Where have all the layers gone? I hadn’t noticed their departure. I look around and see tiny remnants of them strewn about my sacred space, but nothing of real substance. Somehow, and some point, they have gone.

I notice the voices again, somewhere outside the door. I laugh at the knowledge that I had almost forgotten about those pesky intrusions on my holy moments. I notice they aren’t silent, but they are now murmurs and not shouts. Those last vestiges of a past that’s still a part of me, but not me, have surrendered themselves. They now work for me, not I for them.

Just as I’ve seen the kinship between the darkness and the light, I now see the friendship I have with my voices. I’ve given them names in our relationship. Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. Anger. Love. Kindness. Joy. Desire. Revulsion. Guilt. Acceptance. Each of them has a value, and has led me someplace wonderful. Each is worth listening to, yet none are my master. Instead, I’ve mastered them, understanding that in accepting their advice I am going to learn a lesson only warriors are able to learn.

Everyone receives these lessons, but only warriors sharpen their swords with the textbook.

I’m gone now. If you are looking for me there, I apologize for my absence. Follow the signs you see until you find me here.  If you care to look, offer me your hand to dance. Or lend me your voice to sing. Or kneel with me in the hallowed spaces of a lover’s church. Whichever you choose, be free about it, and leave your layers at the door.

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