The Protocols: Acceptance
In Rumi’s Field, the upcoming sequel to All of the Above, the character Mary Hayes decides to travel into the Astral Realm:
It surprised Mary, lying alone in her bed, how easily the protocols came back to her. The strict procedures, ingrained into her during her training, were all right there when she needed them, a full operator’s manual she could open with her mind’s eye. Even so, the process was difficult. Excessive emotionality had always been a source of distraction for those attempting to step away from the body and travel up to another level. Emotions, in fact, were a large part of what the Protocols were designed to counter. But Mary was all emotion these days, with her feelings always at the surface. And after her experience at the hospital, she felt like a wreck. Setting aside her feelings felt impossible.
I know those feelings. I may not be trying to “travel” in the “Astral Realm,” exactly, but like Mary, I regularly try to extend my consciousness beyond the limits of my skull, remotely viewing my characters as they play out their stories. And, like Mary, my “excessive,” agitated neurology can act as a great “source of distraction.” Sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, obsessions, worries, ideas, arguments, fascinations, justifications, needs, desires, alarm bells, and Elephant Talk… they’re all more at the surface of my being now than ever before. As Madge says, I’m soaking in them. And any of these divertissements can take me away from my characters and my story.
Some days it does feel impossible. Some days, I do feel like a wreck. So, like Mary, I need protocols to follow, my own set of strict procedures, my own personal operator’s manual filled with the tweaks, hacks, and workarounds I need to step beyond my neurology and into that other realm, a place where I can not only discover my stories, but where I can create my own life.
Luckily, and somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that I already have such a manual. It’s a rather slim volume at this point, to be sure. Many of the pages are still blank, and others are smudged, torn, missing, or incomplete. But there are also a number of useful chapters already written. All in all, it’s a good start, and I’m glad to realize that I have it.
After years of “working on myself” – with Sally in “the nest,” with my guru, Dr B, with my reading and study, in Landmark Seminars and Dialogue Circles and the “rock tumbler” of intentional community – I see now that I’ve already discovered, catalogued, and even put into practice a fair number of protocols. One of my intentions with this blog is to write them down, because it’s often only in writing something that I can begin to truly know it for myself. In so writing, that “slim volume” will grow thicker and more complete.
The protocol that comes to mind today is this: I have to start with acceptance. My wiring works the way it works. My limbic system is almost always on alert. My brilliant mind is constantly questing, acquiring, seeking, speaking, thinking, wondering, worrying, and watching. I’m a rabbit in an open glade, a swimmer in shark-infested waters, an alien anthropologist walking the streets of humankind. I keep forty tabs open at a time. I have a constant stream of music flowing through me, either coming into my ears or playing on the turntables of my mind. I hear every little sound, notice every stray light, and judge everything I encounter as good or bad, should be or shouldn’t be, in place or out of place, useful or unimportant. Anxieties, unspecific and untethered, move through my body like murmurations of starlings. Pains and discomforts go unnoticed until they cry out loudly enough that I can no longer ignore them. And this off-the-rack body I chose on my way into the physical can chafe like a wet wool sweater, the kind with those scratchy tags at the neck and sleeves that are just too damned tight in the armpits.
Are you kidding me!? It’s a wonder I can get any writing done at all! Not to mention a testament to my own personal power, and the firm, loving force of my Muse, and the sweet, insistent, undeniable call of my characters, whose stories must be told. I should be a mess. There are days when I am a mess. And yet I am so much more. I’ve crafted, with Sally, an amazing relationship of fascination, collaboration, and allowing. I’ve stayed the course to self-knowing and self-loving, the sine quo non of any other work I have done or might do. I’ve completed major works and released them into the world. I’ve followed the process through to the end with this current book: Rumi’s Field is on it’s final, smoothing edit. And all of it despite the scratchy tags at my neck and the distracting tweets of starlings.
I have to start with acceptance. I carry the gifts and burdens I’ve been given to carry. It’s what’s so, and relating to what’s so as what’s so feels, to me, like the cornerstone of sanity. To the extent that I’ve tried to ignore, deny, or fight either the gifts or the burdens, it has only stopped me, or slowed me down, and it has cost me a great deal of time and energy in the process. My first protocol must be acceptance of what’s so. All other protocols will follow from that.
Mary followed the protocols once again. Still they did not quite work. She wiggled around, cleared her mind, and then reached toward the wok’s ceiling to stretch her shoulders. She gasped. There in the darkness was a tiny, clawed, leathery hand reaching back down toward her. The hand grabbed hers and jerked her upwards and she was away.