I can always tell when I’m learning something that’s really important and difficult for my psychological growth: The exciting feel of sudden insight gets slippery and hard to hang on to. I “get” it, then forget it almost immediately. I try to drag pieces of it back into memory, but it slips away again.
I have a theory that this occurs whenever we get close to something important, something our ego is having a hard time with. When it happens, It fun to watch the understanding slide in and out of awareness.
Yesterday, I had my cell phone with me, thank goodness, during one of these events, so I could record my thoughts. The insight has to do relationships, which have so often been problematic in my life. The understanding itself is important to me, and hopefully to some of you reading this. But what I especially want to share here is the process. I wonder if others have similar experiences.
I recorded the first flash of understanding while I was getting ready to take a shower (Why is it that we do so much of our best thinking in the bathroom?), but by the time I actually got into the shower, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was. Frustrating!
The recording is fascinating: I started out excitedly talking about the background of the situation that led to the insight, but then, you can hear it fade away. “This is so hard to hold on to! It has to do with us all being connected through Source…. [long pause] …but I can’t remember what it was, exactly, or how it fit in.”
Half an hour later, I sat down beside my waterfall and turned on the recorder:
“It’s funny, when these insights show up: They’re so squirrelly. If I could sit down and really focus on them and get them down I feel like I could hold on to them. They’re evanescent. There are things in this life that you can see so clearly, but then when you reach for them and try to catch them, they slip away…. Or like when you’re watching a tiny wild animal that keeps flitting through the underbrush, but if you go to grab it, it’s gone. These really deep insights are like that, especially at first. You can feel them, see them out of the corner of your eye, but when you look straight at them and try to put words to them, they just vanish.
“Right now, I can’t even put my fingers on exactly what I wanted to say when I started this recording! But I guess it’s good, in a way, because that means they’re THERE; they’re just shy. They’re like that tiny animal—if you look too hard at them, if you use “hard eyes,” they disappear. But if you just let them be, let them grow, you’ll get to see them eventually. That’s enormously frustrating for this time-bound ego of mine!
“I want so badly to get this essential wisdom down in some form, and it slips away. It’s exactly like trying to catch a dream when you wake up…. Maybe it’s the same process. Or it’s like trying to SEE in the imaginal world, which I can’t do well—I can’t see with my “hard eyes” in the Imaginal. Sometimes I can see with soft eyes. Sometimes I can’t see at all, but I can perceive with other senses.”
Some time went by, and I did other things. But I still wanted to try to remember what it was that felt so important.
“Let’s see if I can backtrack and go back to where I first saw the ‘animal.’ I was thinking about relationships, and how desperate I always used to be to find that ‘perfect relationship,’ the relationship that would ‘complete’ me. I was thinking about the repeating patterns—and then this amazing insight appeared! I still can’t remember it!
“See, here we go again: There are ‘bushes’ in the way of whatever it is that I’m chasing! I should be just allowing it to show itself. But’s hard to feel like you’re so close to an understanding, and yet be unable to grasp it. But actually, it’s sort of a magical place, too. Frustrating but magical.”
And back again to the beginning: “So I was getting ready for the shower, wondering about relationships, and puzzling over the why of it. Oh—wait! I remember: It was the idea of being desperate for a relationship that would somehow let me ‘merge’ with another person.”
Aha! I finally had a tenuous hold on the insight that had shown itself!
“Oh, that’s interesting. My thought of ‘merging….’ What just now flashed through my head was ‘abdication of responsibility.’ Responsibility is the wrong word…. Abdication of opportunity, maybe. Trying, out of pure ignorance, to avoid the responsibility for developing myself as myself. And being quite unaware of my connection to Source.… Out of loneliness and fear I would reach for a relationship, but at some level—Higher Self or higher wisdom, higher consciousness—I was aware that it wasn’t a valid quest. It wasn’t the right question—not the concern or investigation that I came here to do.
“It’s going to take a long time to wrap my head around this. It’s good to have some kind of insight—I’ve not had that before, or only fleetingly. This is the longest I’ve been able even vaguely to hold this stuff…and it just keeps slithering away. That is so cool!”
Looking back, I think that the process I observed is what James Hillman refers to when he says (I’m paraphrasing here), “Don’t drag a dream image kicking and screaming out into the light of day.” This feels like the it’s same kind of thing. You have to let your consciousness expand enough to appreciate the nuance of what’s coming through, and then let it emerge.
When an insight is so slippery, I’m always sure that it concerns an area where I’ve struggled long and hard—a difficult part of my life’s journey. Today, it’s about finding myself and my own strength, and about embodying my true self.
This one is so interesting: We know we’re all connected through Source. At this point I don’t doubt that. The challenge is to BE ourselves, as we take form in this world: to be true to our incarnation, our “becoming flesh,” and at the same time integrate, somehow, the higher wisdom of our true self, our innermost self. It’s an enormous challenge. How can we integrate the truth of our being with the truth of our embodied state?
It seems I’m being reminded of the question. I notice that nobody is offering any answers.
All right. I think I’ve yanked this new understanding as far as I can into the dayworld. Time for it to be on its way, perhaps to show up another day, between the trees, as I watch with soft eyes.