Monday, May 14, 2007

Spiritual Autobiography- Drury pt. 2

So if you couldn't tell, I've been avoiding this entry...
Well not completely, I had to move out and graduate and that took a little bit of time. It's hard to make yourself blog or even get online when you realize just how short your time with the people around you is. So now that I'm isolated in Tulsa, I've got nothing better to do!

This isn't the original version I included in the assigned spiritual autobiography I turned in. That version was sanitized, not realistic...so here's to being vulnerable online, to opening myself up to strangers and those of you who will never comment. ;-)

----

Track 11: I’m So Tired

You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind
“I’m So Tired” –John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Just like with a sport, religion and spirituality take practice and discipline. When you fall out of practice, the results are often painful. I started my senior year by tacking up my “om” tapestry and hanging my Tibetan landscape picture up on the wall. I resolved myself to practicing yoga and meditation and having an awesome year. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men…

The frustration started early with my classes. Going from 300-level classes to a 101 Introduction to Religion class was more than just a little difficult. I found myself struggling with individuals in the class, wishing people would be more open-minded, and a little dismayed about my future as a teacher because these would be the types of people I would be teaching later. Ancient Greek philosophy gave me insight to the history of world-views, but we spent more time tearing ideas apart than building or salvaging what we could. Perhaps we were just bitter upperclassmen. The Spiritual Life allowed me a little bit of exploration of various other faiths, but I found myself so tired and stressed that it was hard to find joy.

Filling out graduate school applications at the end of first semester proved to be a challenge. How could I write personal statements when I had lost a sense of who I was? I was somewhere between Christian and Buddhist, somewhere between making everyone else happy and being myself, and having to write what I knew the schools wanted to hear. Little did I know, but I was experiencing the beginnings of an existential crisis.

Track 12: Help!

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I'm feeling down And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.
“Help!” John Lennon and Paul McCartney

I ended the first semester and headed home for winter break absolutely exhausted. My busy schedule afforded me little rest though, and before I knew it I was off to New Orleans with a group of students and professors to do Katrina relief work. The devastation I witnessed and the realization of how small the impact of our work was in the grand scheme of things threw me back to that time of guilt and frustration in high school. It was almost overwhelming. My stress level soared through the roof.

While I’m glad I went on the trip, and I’m sure the people we worked for were grateful for what we did, I was reminded of a valuable lesson from The Way of the Bodhisattva. You can’t help others if you haven’t first helped yourself. There must be an inner peace and calm within you before you can bring it to others. I worked on that trip the way I did in high school- stretching myself to the breaking point and not taking time to just breathe. Needless to say I started my final semester off feeling more than a little drained.

Senior Seminar was an interesting experience for me. While I know the word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to do the class justice, it’s the best I have right now. I enjoyed The Little Prince, and tolerated Walden, but I almost didn’t make it through Camus. Reading The Fall was like he had opened up my brain, put words to my worst imaginable fears and realizations and then left me on the edge of the bridge myself. I realized just how much I had been acting for other people. And while my actions were outwardly good, inwardly there was a struggle which had been started long ago.

At that time my biggest fear was that people would see right through me and realize just how much I fake it. I felt constantly under the microscope, everyone judging me and me constantly struggling to live up to their expectations. I was overwhelmed, perhaps depressed, anxiety was constantly breathing down my neck and it was driving me over the edge…almost literally at one point.

Nothing seemed to help. Meditation didn’t quiet my mind, it only served to stir it up. I put up walls and blocked out my friends. I just wanted to crawl away from the world for awhile. What was the point of this whole existence? Everything was false, meaningless…ugh! I wanted it to go away.

Yeah…

Words are failing me…I can’t quite put it into coherent sentences. It’s all in Albert Camus’ The Fall if you care that much.

We all have our dark nights of the soul.



(This picture is so old school...I think I'm 17. Funny how emotions and situations replay themselves in our lives. But that's another entry for another day.)

1 comment:

Themindtaker said...

Well, let's cancel that trip to Amsterdam then... :)

I suspect it's no coincidence that The Fall's initial publishing was right around the time of the French New Wave in Cinema-- which happens to be the topic of that 25-page paper I have to write next semester. I'll let you know if I find any connections.