There is much that is real in a human life and also much that is fiction. There are myriad details our minds devise to fill in the blanks and make sense of a dynamic life over which we imagine ourselves holding the reins only to find that truths and realities can metamorphose gradually with time or shift in an instant, shaking our sense of self and our place on this strange planet.
I wrote this winter of the possibility of Saturn returns in my own life and a great transition professionally and personally. As humans are wont to do, I felt the dust beginning to settle and imagined I had experienced all the character building I would need to last me for some time. Alas, it was not to be.
My AP Psychology teacher in high school introduced a concept called “cognitive dissonance,” which has fascinated me ever since. Imagine a human mind. It goes through its daily rhythms, selectively accepting and rejecting information on a regular basis. Each human mind develops a set of values and beliefs over the course of a lifetime. The notion of cognitive dissonance factors in when new information is presented that is out of sync with the accepted values and beliefs that have carefully been carved and designed to fit the individual. What to do with this new information? There are essentially only a few choices – accept the information and allow your values and beliefs to reflect this expansion of knowledge, reject it entirely, or filter it to fit within your realm of brain comfort.
The new information I recently received rocked my own boat, just as it was righting itself from a serious capsizing event, and it has caused serious reflection and reevaluation of the reality I have been devising during my time in Alaska. Perhaps, in addition to Saturn returns, I have mischievous, trickster spirits shape shifting from raven to fairy to heavy fog issuing a weather hold on all flights out of Gustavus, all playing a game called “let’s keep marieke on her toes…all the time!”
Of course, I am in some ways thankful for these starts and stops. Though they cause periods of intensity, both emotionally and spiritually, with each new reality shift, I find myself growing more self-aware and more in tune with who I am and the way I want to pass each moment on this planet. Of equal importance, I am learning (albeit, in what feels like an unusually difficult way) how to advocate for myself and how to find ways to say no to injustice and the kind of life I do not care to embrace. This path may be the more challenging to take, but it has not stopped me in the past nor will it now, and I truly believe that my entire being will eventually rejoice as a result.
I spoke this morning with a dear friend. When I described recent events, she celebrated this shift with the words, “one door closes and another opens.” Perhaps, this will be another chapter in the life of marieke coming to an abrupt, edge of the seat, finger-nailing biting end—at least, I know I will be biting my nails in anticipation of what is to come. Yet what is to come promises to be a healthier, more sustainable way of being.
More than once when I
Sat all alone, revolving in myself,
The mortal limit of the self was loosed,
And passed into the nameless, as a cloud
Melts into heaven. I touch’d my limbs, the limbs
Were strange, not mine—and yet no shade of doubt
But utter clearness, and thro’ loss of self
The gain of such large life as matched with outs
Were sun to spark—unshadowable in words,
Themselves but shadows of a shadow world.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1991, p. 328)