Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
If I had the chance I’d ask the world to dance, but I’d be dancing with myself. ~ Billy Idol
The more time I spend with myself, the more I realize that my world is really just a reflection of my own psyche. This crucial realization is usually hidden by the fact that other people seem to be the cause of my experience. But as I watch myself now (when I’m spending most days essentially on my own) I still see that my emotions wax and wane, and I have long conversations in my head about the past, present and future, what should and shouldn’t be happening, and how I should and shouldn’t be feeling about it. Even without a cast of supporting characters, my dance card is full.
The truth is, whether we know it or not, we’re always dancing with ourselves. Even if you’re physically in the presence of others all day long, your real dance partners are your own projections: memories of past hurts, worries about the future, thoughts and guesses about what is happening (and what other people are thinking) right now. It’s impossible to see the other person clearly, let alone have a real relationship with them, when all these other projections are crowding the dance floor.
The only thing we can do about this is to remember that it’s happening. The more aware we are of our own projections, the more we learn to acknowledge them, the more we are able to look past them and begin to see the reality of the other person (or the reality of ourselves that lives behind the projections of the mind). It’s harder to do this when we’re always busy. It’s scary, too – life seems more simple when we can just look outside of ourselves for the cause of our emotions, and blame others, or change something “out there” instead of inside of ourselves.
I often feel the urge to escape from the fear into busy-ness, or company simply for the sake of company. Instead, I try to hold myself here, in this place that vacillates from bliss to panic, and just get to know myself as my own true dance partner. I’m learning that the vacillations are just a part of life, not something that requires a reaction. With other people, it’s all too easy to miss this lesson in the rush to react. I’m learning how much the way I perceive other people is dictated by my own expectations and prior experience. How little clarity I actually have when I view them through this unacknowledged veil. How little I actually know myself when I constantly substitute exterior perception for my own interior reality.
Dancing with myself is a skill that I’m slowly developing. Sometimes it’s easy and joyful, sometimes it feels like a dirge. Sometimes other people take a hand, and I try to remember that they are in their own dances too. And that reality can always (and only) be found on the inside.
Join the family!