What do we mean when we say that s/he’s a mess. More often than not, this is intended to announce a person’s appearance, the way a person maintains and manages one’s material possessions, surroundings and also oneself and one’s relationships.
Can a seemingly systematic person be a mess? Like a near swan-like serenity, masking a frenetic under-the-surface paddling ? Life happens to us or we make it happening, but there is seldom a moment of rest – externally or internally. I have come to believe that it is the difference in our handling of this constant change which makes all the difference in the quality of our journey between successive bardos. It is, in fact, our handling of ourselves that makes most of the difference, since that is what we can steward, and that is what will be with us for a lifetime. This assertion may make you wonder who is ‘ourselves’ and ‘us’ here, but let us not traverse that path in this post (also because we will be as lost as me if I were your journey-person).
Coming back to the pseudo-swanning behaviour, we grapple with and ‘manage’ our emotional histories of applause and regard, pain and slight, shock and awe, in different ways and that impacts our psyche, at times indelibly. One such style of self-management involves systematising in neat boxes within us, our myriad and humungous memories and feelings (our mefs, if we may call them) of ‘happenings of significance’ (as we label them). The most intense ones (in both pleasing and disturbing ways) are kept in titanium vaults so they never die! Inventorization done, we feel in control as we confidently interact with the world and our surroundings.
When we, a warehouse of mefs, encounter a situation, a person or a surrounding that matches our catalogued mefs (and am sure we all have experienced such deja vu) , hurray – lucky we! We put our RAM (Random Access Memory, to be clear!) into top gear and try to ensure that the encounter is a near match with our already stored mef. No new boxes to be brought, just add a shade or two or an upgrade the mef and we are done – just like that.
With all this feeding, the mefs acquire a life of their own and soon do not want to be pushed around. They tend to rebel and go out of control especially when they face the original triggers that birthed them. When that happens, out the mefs tumble, like wool-balls on a roll, and desperate like kittens we pursue the run-aways , pull at them, knot and cut at them, and get entangled. Rest we not till we have caught them all, and thrust them back into their respective boxes. How very neat and efficient.
But all that while, what happens in the external world is different. We lose touch of what we become in those moments. We end up bruising and cutting, distancing and denigrating, with our expressions and behaviour, Nouns of all kinds – people (including ourselves), places, animals and things.
It is often said that humans can become ‘diamonds’ under extreme heat and pressure, but if we let the mefs rot and keep absorbing new pressures in our warehouse, we get coal. As Michael Singer says in The Untethered Soul, “…don’t fall. Let go. No matter what it is, let it go…. You either let go or you don’t. There really isn’t anything in between“. .
When we unvault our chests of mefs, it may not be a pretty sight to behold. No birds or butterflies flying to freedom but plain muck flowing out. It is we who will be freed through this process of purification. So, just do it.
PS – When you are at this burst of KonMaring yourself, just remember to throw away the boxes too.