Disclaimer: This is a long one.
Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night. Oil on canvas, 73×92 cm, 28¾×36¼ in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve reached an amazing place in my 10+ year journey in bipolar re\covery. I’ve discovered for myself some nuances and ideas related to wading in instability that has always eluded me before.
A few years ago, I remember distinctly
claiming owning the fact that I knew when I was getting too deep, I just didn’t know how to stop it. I believe my bipolar disorder has been a journey of steps, levels of learning that I’ve needed to go through. It takes something amazing to get to the place of seeing that, and appreciating it, however. I think that people with bipolar disorder actually have very enduring mental strength. However that strength can be used to sustain moods and mental states that are unhealthy. The fact is, though, that it takes a lot of mental effort to keep up such intensity, rather fast-cycles, slow or mixed…they require a lot of energy and passion.
This bipolar topic is huge, and I will have to come back to this very often, but for now, I want to talk about what I’ve discovered for myself around the idea of purity. I used to feel a deep disdain for the world, it seemed like everything I knew was failing me, so I decided to become internet obsessed and find something to inspire me. I remember this moment exactly, almost everything about it. This decision to find something to inspire me saved me from a suicidal immersion. I felt like the world was just so annoyingly shallow and destitute. Hell, I still feel like that every now and then.
I wanted to feel that innocence, kindness, grace, acceptance, support and love, were undeniably encompassing. I wanted to feel that there were truths and there was purpose, and there was hope and that it would be easy to know these things, to follow these things and to be these things. I wanted to feel that there were answers to my questions, someone to answer them, somewhere to take those questions, an answer to all the worlds problems, because I couldn’t see any of them as separated. I wanted to feel the light of divinity and feel that I was doing everything I could to reflect it.
Somehow, that led me to the hippie movement. I know a lot of people view hippies as druggies, but my view was always the “peace and love” variety, as well as the colorful images, creativity and spiritual reverence of nature. Since I was in elementary school I was fascinated with the hippie thing. When we learned about it in history I was devising a way to bring that movement back. not kidding. However, at some point as I got older, it seemed unattainable, a thing of the past, and I moved on to looking and seeming “normal”.
At the age of 19 however, I couldn’t do normal any longer. I wanted no part in it. I decided that the only way I wanted to live was to live free of the constraints and judgements of normal, modern society and I found a cute little hippie website called hipforums I swear I was up all night trying to figure out how I could live in this world and in this body and finally I found that website and felt it was possible. (hipforums came way before the current hipster thing that I have no understanding of but have been occassionally called)
I decided with the help of internet friendships that I would go back to my childhood dreams and resurrect the sense of self, purpose, and goodness I once held on to. I developed an appropriately bipolar relationship between purity and depravity. Like I said, I really believe I had to go through these things to rewire my brain, and I believe bipolar disorder is actually the brain’s way of healing some already established mental short circuits(if you will go with me on that). It just doesn’t look or feel that nice all the time, but natural healing doesn’t always feel that great…after all, for sickness to come out of the body, the body would need to feel that sickness or else it wouldn’t come out…it’d be stuck.
So, I started to purify my life. I can actually look back and see I’d been doing this for awhile, but it took on a real sense of intention at this time. I began to reject conventional wisdom on everything and develop new opinions and options for everything under the sun. Things people rarely, if ever question, if they’re living “normal” lives. I changed my goals and ideas, and coincidentally they reverted back to some of the seemingly unrealistic dreams of my childhood. I changed the way I lived my life, who I associated with, how I addressed and presented myself, and I told no one. It was mostly an internal and subtle thing.
Somehow in the middle of a University campus, I was there on the verge of a resurrection and I felt a constant conflict with my environment. I felt like Che Guevara, except it was a completely personal thing. What I was doing was for myself and no one else. I’d never done anything
for myself without considering others first. So, I started to discover how it felt to be in unity with my ideas…to strive for the things I believed in, no matter how different they were.
It’s hard for me to say how I really felt about myself in relation to the outside world. Internally, I was becoming really comfortable, but I didn’t feel quite ready to address most people. I was attached to the hipforums and hiding from the judgement of “normal” society. Somehow, this all became too easy. It became habit after habit of feeling full of integrity, hope and radical passion. Somewhere, my ego crawled out of the water and perched right on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. This is where depravity comes in.
I haven’t really formulated this thought pattern yet. I just know it exists. I know there is purity and depravity and that I connected to both and they juxtaposed each other and we fought it out in the bipolar bubble. I know that I came out on the other side unattached to either. It is a miracle. I remembering stumbling upon this benchmark about a year ago when I started this blog. Or rather, I see it earlier than that, but I remember intentionally nourishing the flame.
We, as humans desire light. We desire goodness. We desire divinity, even if we don’t call it that or see it that way. We desire the pure and the just and the nourishing. Sometimes to know what that is, we have to force ourselves to see deeply or differently, or see at all, what we don’t want to see. We have to grapple with what is all around us and decide how possible it is to be pure. How important it is to experience that.
I love nature and I could comfortably live in the wilderness, off-the-grid in the right environment. A few years ago I tried this and felt that I was living purely. I renounced everything worldly and attempted to live on nothing and contribute nothing to the chaos of consumerism. I don’t know if that’s really possible, but I couldn’t do it. I got as close as I could at that time, though. There was some frustration as to how difficult it was to get off of all the crutches that I associated with darkness.
I couldn’t live in a house, charge money for work, buy conventional produce, buy imported anything, drive a car, drink, smoke, wear unnatural fabrics, use disposable diapers, drink while eating, and the list goes on. I was paralyzed by so many limitations. It has taken me quite a while to start settling into a place of peace. A place where I no longer fear something bad is going to happen because I’m not being pure enough.
I started to realize that I am a part of this world. This world has its own list of parameters. They are farther reaching than a lot of people think, but still they exist. The parameters are things like:
- roads, private property and barriers exist so you can’t go wherever you want to go, whenever you want to go there…
- it takes effort to grow food and agriculture is the way of the world, so you have to pay for food or grow your own
- many people have been hurt by strangers, so lots of people are untrusting and paranoid if they don’t know you
I’m sure you could think of better ones. The point is that the world itself is not completely pure, so to be able to live in the world we have to be accepting of the complexity of our environment and culture. It is not just duality, it is multifaceted. To disconnect from a need for purity we have to see that the light is a border of the dark and that there are spaces of intensity and shade along the path where they connect. For me, I had to learn to have compassion and understanding for everything I’ve been through and how that might look to others and realize the vision may have nothing to do with the reality.
Basically, I have to decide to listen to life, never judge myself or any other situation and always move rather than freeze in indecision. This has allowed me to move at a pace of understanding that really suits me. It has allowed me to fully experience each situation so I’m not moving onto the next level without full understanding of the last. I believe this is so important because when we move on before we’re ready, we end up coming back to the same thing over and over again. This can be extremely frustrating, of course.
So, I think the best way to look at purity is to look at it as an image inside a snow globe. It looks nice in there, but how does it feel when its shaken? (part 2 and possibly 3 are coming soon, do you have anything you’d like me to address? let me know!)
~~To Dreams of Brilliant Clarity
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