I am somewhat addicted to personal growth. I can't even begin to tell you how many thousands of dollars and thousands of hours I have spent attending workshops, reading books and talking with my friends, husband and various paid professionals about the complicated inner workings of my heart and so called mind.
Because I am also addicted to creativity and self expression I have written my heart out, painted from my soul and danced my prayers. And it's been good. As hobbies go, it's got a lot going for it. It tends to be expensive, but it also has no toxic byproducts or stinky fumes (like welding) is not physically dangerous (like bungee jumping or Nascar racing) and generally does make me a happier, more fulfilled person.
Like any hobby there is an inner circle language and lingo that reflects certain ways of thinking about things that are very familiar to the hobbyists. Because I am interested in this world I keep abreast of the hot topics and cutting edge ideas. And a big one that you hear a lot about in the consciousness community has to do with intention.
Now, if you are not familiar with this world, you might be wondering why intention is considered to be a lingo-ey word. I mean it's actually kind of a normal word that a lot of normal people use every day.
"Well, it was certainly my intention to call you back last week, but, uh you know.....some shit got in the way." or "It's my intention to finish work on my taxes this afternoon. I just hope some shit doesn't get in the way."
Intention is something that you want to do or think you want to do. It's related to things like goals and plans. It's something that you're contemplating but it hasn't happened yet. Intention is always about something in the future.
Now the problem with intention is that in and of itself it is just an idea. A fantasy, really. It's something that you can picture happening, but like my examples above, our "best intentions" often get ambushed by "shit getting in the way."
In the world of consciousness and self awareness this normal, everyday experience is elevated to something sacred and mystical. It is spoken about in hushed tones and turned into a slogan such as The Power Of Intention. And what that means is that you can use your capacity for visualization combined with desire to get what you want out of life.
However, this concept makes me decidedly cranky because it just doesn't work for me. Or at least not as advertised.
Partly I'm cranky because I never give up on it. I fervently want to believe that if I just get clear and focus my energies in a certain direction that it is within my power to eventually make whatever I want show up exactly as I imagine it.
I really like the idea of having that much control. Setting intentions makes me all confident and perky.They provide me with a "can do" feeling and feed the illusion that I am in charge of my life.
But alas and alack, whenever I set an intention, I end up a lot like Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football from the Peanuts cartoon series. I get seduced by the promise and then dumped on my ass most every time.
Now it's not that I don't put effort into bringing about my desired outcome. I don't just sit around daydreaming and hoping for the best. I'm an action girl. I go out into the world and grab the nearest bull by it's proverbial horns and shake it up good. But all that intending and all that shaking rarely ends up leading me where I want to go.
When I set my sights on something and put certain wheels in motion that is when the real fun starts because apparently there is some larger force in my life that doesen't really care about what I want. It has it's own agenda for me.
For example, last year I was diagnosed with cataracts which really sucked in many ways including bringing me face to face, yet again, with the fact that I am aging and that my body is breaking down.
However, having cataracts is not exactly a life threatening condition and the technology for replacing the damaged natural lens with a new and improved plastic one is so relatively simple and effective that a charitable foundation called SEVA ( which means selfless service) teaches lay practitioners how to successfully and affordably perform the operation in impoverished third world countries.
Based on this information I knew that my chances of having a successful outcome related to this operation were extremely high. So one of my intentions was that I would have new and improved sight in both eyes by the end of 2008.
I also have a history around my body of things not going well. My body is very sensitive, so most western medicines have a more than even chance of killing me or at least backfiring and performing in some bizarre way. And herbal remedies are really not all that much better.
If I had a nickel for every time a doctor or health practitioner has said to me "Oh. I've never seen it do THAT before" whenever they gave me a new medicine or remedy to try.... well, let's just say that by now I would have a heck of a lot of nickels.
So my second intention was that I would sail through these surgeries with a minimum of difficulty and drama. I visualized ease. My mantra was "No fuss, no muss".
I knew that I was tempting deities large and small by setting myslelf up to intend success around something having to do with my body. But I felt like it was time. I was ready. And I figured that I was giving myself a pretty good chance given the fact that cataract surgery has been around long enough for the major bugs to have been worked out.
I was very heartened when I went and saw the "What You Can Expect After Your Cataract Surgery" movie at the hospital and it showed a bunch of people who were 25 years older than me playing tennis and moving boxes the day after the procedure.
I was pumped, primed and ready to go. Armed to the teeth with positive thoughts and solid state intentions. Now of course you know where this is going. I can't even begin to tell you what the worst part of the whole thing was.
Was it when I had to tell the anesthesiologist that no, they could not use the standard anesthesia medication because the last time I had been given a drug in that same family I had almost gone into anaphylactic shock?
Was it when I was drugged up on the operating table and the doctor told me that because of some weird anomaly in the structure of my eye he wasn't sure if the lens we had chosen was going to work and that I had to make a decision then and there about how I wanted him to proceed?
Was it the day after surgery when I went to the doctor's office for my follow up visit and was escorted to an examination room where my bandages were removed by an assistant , who left me in the room alone for 20 minutes and when I opened my eye I could barely see at all and was convinced I had gone blind? After I had just had a conversation in the waiting room with one of those tennis playing/box lifting elders who's main concern was what to do with her old pair glasses cause the surgery she had also had the day before had worked so incredibly well that she could see like a twenty year old?
And it went on and on. Suffice it to say that because of myriad of difficulties and complications here it is a year later and I can finally see a bit more clearly out of only one eye and there are still some unsolved problems.
So neither one of my intentions manifested as I had so fervently hoped that they would. And yet.... something very powerful and profound came out of my botched attempts at intentions last year.
I have a marked attraction to catastrophes. Well, not actual catastrophes. My life, by most measures, is pretty stable. But I am sorely attracted to made up catastrophes. I am mesmerized by trials and tribulations that exist only in my steroidal imagination.
My husband - another artist with a highly developed ability to conjure up calamity - shares some of these tendencies. And we often tease each other by remarking on how our cataclysmic inner scenarios are actually a kind of protection because nothing that we have imagined has ever come to pass!
But all of this catastrophising is exhausting. My poor body is completely unaware of the vast difference between fantasy and reality and so gets just as worked up and adrenalized by my visions of ruination as it does by the real thing.
When I was on my cataract rollercoaster ride last year I was literally overwhelmed by a Niagra Falls of cataclysmic responses. It seemed like every time I blinked one of my nearly blind eyes there was something else to freak out about.
Eventually, the endless disaster thinking just plum wore me out. It was like being in one of those smoking cessation programs where they make you smoke so many cigarettes that you turn green and puke on your shoes and never, ever, ever want to see or smell a cigarette as long as you are living and breathing.
I got really sick of being flung around by my anxious mind. And I just stopped. It wasn't like I swore off of it or anything. I didn't have to choose to give anything up. I just couldn't do it anymore. I was spent. Done. I had shot my catastrophe wad. I literally just did not have it in me anymore.
And it felt great! Not like a jumping up and down, look at me, whoo-hoo great. More like "Boy. Am I glad THAT's over with." It was like being released. Freed. Sprung from prison. I was left with an overall sense of feeling sobered and relieved.
And I was kind of incredulous that I had actually willingly jumped on that bandwagon so many times before.
This was clearly NOT what I had intended. I couldn't have intended it because I had no idea this was even possible. I would never have imagined this freedom because I could not even begin to believe that this state existed. And the wildest thing is that it has not gone away. It feels like a more or less permanent adjustment to my psyche.
Now I'm not saying .... yet... that this is better than being able to see like I did when I was twenty. And have I learned my lesson about the futility of intentions? Probably not.
But I'm a teeny,tiny bit more relaxed . And trusting. And just a tad more curious about what other unexpected experiences the universe has in store for me now.
I do know that whatever it is will come as a complete surprise. Beyond that I have no idea. I just hope it doesn't involve ...... never mind. I don't want to give those old powers that be any bright ideas. But, I'll keep you posted!