Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Act

I am finally sitting down to write about my weekend. The Landmark Advanced Course that I participated in this weekend was from 10:00 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday. There will also be an evening session this Tuesday night. Instead of going back home, I took two days off and stayed in Seattle. I thought that I would be less drained than I was last month when I took the first course, which was called the Landmark Forum, but it was the other way around. This is the one that allowed me to see some parts of myself that I did not entirely like.

The first two days were mildly insightful. I worked on different aspects of myself and spent a good deal of time listening as attentively as possible to others. This was one of the things that I like most about Landmark, that I interact with people with whom I do not usually have the opportunity to interact. For instance, I have no doubt that even though the workshop took place in Seattle there were at least a few Bush supporters and far right fundamentalist Christians in the room. Not that we ever talked about politics, just how we wanted to be more authentic with ourselves, our loved ones, and all of those around us. At this level, we all have the same concerns.

It was not until the third day that I saw myself in full action, acts and all. I think it is interesting that my act surfaced on the third day when everyone else was getting comfortable and true community started developing. I have noticed in other group circumstances that this is the time that I start getting uncomfortable. What I am seeing is that when groups start truly bonding and individuals start taking on roles within groups, I start reacting with my act,"I am a know it all and I can take care of myself." Perhaps this is in reaction to being afraid to be left out or that I will somehow lose my identity within this group structure. I'm not quite sure.

And so, each one of us had to go to the front of the room and create a possibility that we were going to embody in the world and an act that we were going to give up. When my turn came, I said:

"Who I am is the possibility of creative inspiration, interconnectedness, and nonviolence. The act I am giving up is I can take care of myself. And this is who I am."

The instructor asked me to find another word instead of "nonviolence" as its meaning is derived from being the "non" of something else. I was adamant and rather self-righteous about wanting to keep it. You could even argue that I was being violent with my words. I could think of no other word that had the same meaning and that encompassed actions, language, and thoughts. Plus, no male was going to tell me what to do. The instructor asked me why I was angry and in typical Margaret fashion my response was, "I am not angry," using the almost exact same tone that I had used when I had said "I can take care of myself."

The instructor kept on asking me why I was so angry and then finally I said, "Fine, I'll tell you." I do not even know what I said exactly but I was on a roll about poverty, priviledge, classism, racism, sexism, the blinders that people wear over their eyes,... I almost started crying when I said that I was sick and tired of seeing war, that I had seen it all of my life, that the country that I grew up in was still going through war, and that I WAS PISSED OFF!

The instructor acknowledged me and shared that he often felt overwhelmed too. Slowly he was able to help me see that the purpose of our sharing and our ceremony was an opportunity to create a new possibility for the future, one that did not need to contain any of the negative aspects of the past. He reminded me and the group that my reaction, my anger was exactly what happens when we create binaries. Do I really want to bring such negativity into my future or did I want to create a world where the concept of violence did not even exist? Seeing that the day before I had been daydreaming about taking a thick black sharpie and blacking out the word "violence" from as many dictionaries as I could find, the choice was obvious. I would have to come up with another word.

Finally, with much coaching, I came up with this:

Who I am is the possibility of creative inspiration, interconnectedness, true love and respect for each other and our dear earth.

What I am is giving up is that I can do it by myself (notice the change of wording here.)

And this is who I am.

This is a good place to end for now.


Anonymous said...

I like what you say about how we all, on the level of wanting "to be more authentic with ourselves, our loved ones, and all of those around us", all have the same concerns. I think peace, at all levels, can only come from focusing on our similarities as opposed to our differences. I also love your possibility of love, limitless creativity, peace, and happiness!

margaret said...

Thanks, L.