February 6, 2007

Step into the shadow, forty-six+2 are just ahead of me...

This is the song that got me into T00l, and then subsequently got me into Jung. I've read various things around the 'net about the 46+2 reference having to do with the fact that human beings currently have a chromosome composition of 44+2, and that if/when we develop the additional chromosomes necessary to reach 46+2 then we'll achieve "Christ consciousness." Yadda, yadda, yadda... That may or may not be, but on a more basic level, I still get plenty out of this song:

My shadow's
shedding skin and
I've been picking
Scabs again.
I'm down
Digging through
My old muscles
Looking for a clue.

I've been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could've been.
I've been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I've been hiding in

My shadow.
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow's shedding skin
I've been picking
My scabs again.

I've been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could've been.
I've been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I've endured within

My shadow.
Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I've been clinging to.
Forty-six and two ahead of me.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

I choose to live and to
Lie, kill and give and to
Die, learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through.

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

Around the time I first heard this song, I had recently experienced the end of a six year relationship in which I willingly suppressed parts of my personality in the name of what I thought was "compromise". Trite as it may sound, these words from MJK were a revelation. I'd been spending a lot of time "wallowing in my own confused and insecure delusions" of rejection and abandonment. Upon hearing this, I realized it was time to get re-acquainted with all those more... unusual portions of my self that didn't quite fit with my ex.

The idea of the shadow, I think, is often mis-represented. Many people seem to perceive of it as only containing our most perverse, unacceptable, "dirty" aspects. It's our "dark side", it's ugly, it's dangerous, it's sexy. That's like the Hollywood reading of the shadow. My own interpretation takes a wider view. While the shadow does seem to encompass the darker, perhaps less moral characteristics we'd rather not admit to, it also can contain all those silly, petty little needs we'd like to pretend we don't have: need for attention, need for approval, need for commendation, need for acceptance, need to always be right... Less dark, and decidedly less sexy. Also hidden amongst all of the dark dangerousness and less dark pettiness can be strong, creative, more elemental aspects of our character that we may just plain not know how to deal with, so we stuff them down and sublimate them in those deep areas of our unconscious. Here's a concise description that seems to me to be fairly accurate: Confrontation with the Shadow by Kevin Wilson.

By taking a good, hard, objective look at our reactions and behaviors, we can begin to see some the elements of our own shadow. It's especially easy to see when we catch ourselves in the act of projection. As our MySpace friend Kevin explains, very often the qualities we abhor in others are the very aspects of ourselves we'd rather not be conscious of. The obnoxious, arrogant co-worker who always has to be right. The self-centered, inconsiderate idiot who cut us off in traffic. The silly bimbo chick who gets all the attention at a party. The terrorists who blow up others in the name of "belief". If we look deeply enough in the mirror, we might see glimpses of ourselves, if not committing the same acts, then at least occasionally exhibiting similar characteristics and motivations, or wishing that we could. The fear of consciously realizing this about ourselves enrages us and, voila!, our fear and rage is projected onto that other person. (Hmmm... Suddenly this is tying in with my post on hatred...)

When we take the bold step of looking back over our feelings, actions, and motivations, really, truly and objectively analyzing them, then we can begin to catch glimpses of our shadow. The next step is to admit that we have these imperfections. Not with shame or self-loathing, mind you. Just with objective, rational acceptance. Even the Dalai Lama's shit stinks, man. Learn to live with your pettiness and your darkness. We all have some assortment of bad habits, needs, desires and traits that would get us kicked out of Sunday School. Why be so ashamed and afraid? This is not to say one should give these traits and impulses free-reign, of course. There is a reason that they're considered "bad". But let them out of the dark cellar of the unconscious, show them a little compassion, and you may find there's less to be afraid of than you thought. They may even behave themselves better than you expect, and can color your personality in some very interesting, albeit quirky, ways. Treat them as little siblings of the "big brother" good qualities in your nature. While the big brother gets a scholarship, goes off to college, becomes an intelligent and magnanimous President of the United States, those dark little siblings can sit at home quietly blogging, not feeling so much need to act up because they know that they're unconditionally accepted.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to be
Paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

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