“We must unlearn the constellation to see the stars.” — Jack Gilbert from the poem “Tear it down”
I often say that a human being is a constellation of stories. Some of these stories we adopt passively; some we adopt consciously. There is no authentic story; so there is no authentic way of being, other than experiencing the moment fully, and acting out of that experience.
I distinguish between the personality and the essence, the terminology of Gurdjieff. The personality is what we present to the world; it is concerned with image fitting in. The essence is the part of ourselves that surfaces during peak or awakening experiences. It experiences being directly.
I don't know if the essence is a constellation of stories, because it is generally divorced from mind. When I think about it, I fall into the personality, and the stories begin to take over.
Evolution is a process of learning, and more importantly, of unlearning.
“Every mile you go in the wrong direction is really a two mile error. Unlearning is twice as hard as learning.” –Unknown
The only amendment I would make is to reframe the 'wrong direction' piece as a different stretch of the right road. Sometimes we take the wrong direction, and come back with an unexpected treasure that guides our life or shifts the whole context in some way. Does this mean it was not the wrong direction?
I bring up unlearning, because many of these stories that make up our unique constellation are disempowering. For instance, our body could function based on so-called 'scientific knowledge' that we picked up somewhere. The function of our cells would literally fall into line with our belief system. One example is that people generally live within the lifespan of what they perceive to be a normal lifespan. So cultures that have a much longer perceived lifespan generally live longer.
So back to the first quote, we must break out of what we think we are, in order to see the individual story for what it is, so we can decide how to relate to it, or whether to drop it entirely. It is very difficult to shift a constellation. It is simple to shift a story.
And yet the essence of who we are are not these stories, but the space between the stars.
Dance in that.
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