Friday, August 26, 2011

projections:how what you think about me has everything to do with you,dear.

There's this e.e. cummings line that's been rattling around in my head for days:
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

This line is scrawled in a quote book I started keeping in high school, filled with poetry and inspiration. I fell in love with e.e. around that time because of his daring (mis)use of punctuation. I helped edit the lit mag and couldn't imagine anything sexier than a man who only capitalized when he felt like it. I've always loved a rebel.

In the rest of the poem, he is revering the frailty and small hands of (in theory) a small-handed woman and I wonder if she was really all that frail. I wonder how many women fall victim to idol- and idealization. Men paint a picture of who this woman is based on some deep rooted, possibly unconscious fantasy of what the "perfect" woman encapsulates. When the woman falls short (inevitably) or surprises with a multifaceted personality beyond categorization, the man is bewildered at best.

Of course, this is not isolated to men relating to women. Women do this in their own way to men (or men to men and women to women for all my homoz out there). Perhaps, as we mature, we can come to be more compassionate and realistic about the foibles of others and less rigid about our ideals. Perhaps we can even come to appreciate and celebrate our complex human partners.

Until then, I often find myself the victim of men's disappointed expectations. The way that I am idealized and the woman that I am are not different so much as that the idealized version is only one part of me. Yes, I am soft and sweet and gentle. I am also wild and blunt and fiercely stubborn. I am, above all else now and forever more, a yogi goddess. And what's the goal of yoga? Union! So you best believe that I'm not trying to create inner divisiveness by tucking away my wild to preserve some unrealistic angelic vision. No one, man or woman, is perfect, and putting people on pedestals is a recipe for heartbreak for everyone involved. Period.

The only ways to work this out are to a) resolve to live alone, or b) suspend judgement and assess with neutrality. We project SO much shit onto other people, good, bad or otherwise. When we're feeling hopeful about a prospective partner, we see all the best, most prized qualities in them that we think we want. On the flip side, when we're feeling vulnerable or defensive, in them we see all our fears and wounds manifesting. If we don't like ourselves or other people have been cruel to us in the past, we will find proof in their behaviors to reinforce how unlovable we think we are. The ego is mighty powerful and will stop at nothing to assert itself by keeping us in the same, comfortable tape loops.

There is an Osho card, Projections, which speaks directly to this:
"All of us can get caught up in projecting movies of our own making onto the situations and people surrounding us. It happens when we are not fully aware of our own expectations, desires and judgements; instead of taking responsibility for them and owning them, we try to attribute them to others. A projection can be devilish or divine, disturbing or comforting, but it is a projection nonetheless- a cloud that prevents us from seeing reality as it is. The only way out is to recognize the game. When you find a judgement arising about another, turn it around: Does what you see in others really belong to you? Is your vision clear, or clouded by what you want to see?"

Cultivate neutrality. As the condition of our mind controls our experience of the world, we can't hope to rest in reality without a soundly neutral mind. Maybe you don't want to live in reality, and I can't say that I blame you. Life can be pretty tough to swallow sometimes. But I am coming to find that true, lasting happiness comes not from having all our ideals met, but from working gracefully within the bounds of reality. If we are unwilling to extend this grace to others, this allowance of all that they are, how can we expect to find it for ourselves? And don't you want that? We all deserve to be known completely and loved for it.

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