Elemental Fire Month 3

12-26-11 Fire burns and consumes. What you don't want can be burned away, turned to ashes. You can recycle the ashes, contribute to new growth. For Christmas, my mom gave me a picture album with lots of pictures I don't believe I ever saw. I can't remember anything about a lot of those pictures, because most of them were when I was really young, or before the age of 7. I don't have many memories from before I was seven. It's as if they were wiped clean. It's quite frustrating. I've been thinking a lot about safety and what constitutes safety for someone. What makes a person really feel safe? What does safety embody for a person? I think of fire as an embodiment of safety. The warmth it provides, and even a psychological fascination with light, and the idea that being in the light can make you safe. There's this draw to a fire and what it represents. We can be warmed by the fire, can even have a degree of visibility and protection, and yet the fire can also be a detriment. Your eyes have to adjust each time, and what feels safe may ultimately be an illusion.

12-27-11 Today's meditation focused on desire, specifically what desire for others is really about for me. I think that's such a hard question to answer in a way, because it really involves recognizing that there's some level of selfishness associated with desire, and while that seems like a given it did make me think about what that really means. Selfishness isn't bad per se, as long as it isn't taken to an extreme. It's just that when it is taken to an extreme it can go overboard, to the extent that the other person isn't even considered. In looking at my past, I can safely say that I have been that selfish before and while the short term gratification was nice, the long term result was anything but. So for the moment I'm focusing on the selfishness piece of all of this.

12-28-11 Today's meditation focused on polyamory. I've been in a closed relationship for almost two years, which has been the longest time I've been in a closed relationship. I've used the time to do a lot of thinking about poly and why I've considered myself poly. In all honesty, I'd have to say that my participation in poly is a text book case of bad poly. I've made a lot of the mistakes people make in such relationships and as I've looked over those mistakes and also what's drawn me to that lifestyle, I've come to realize that I chose that lifestyle in part based on a belief of: "There's no one person who can fulfill all your needs and its better to have multiple relationships to get all your needs met." Or if I flip it a little I get: "I've been considered to be too intense, and its better if I spread the love around so I'm not too much for anyone person." Both reasons are ones I've told myself and others and yet in considering them carefully, I've come to realize that for me, they are unhealthy reasons.

My reasoning about this matter is as follows. If I really believe I'm too much for one person and feel the need to spread the love, am I perhaps ignoring what it is that makes me too much for a person? am I perhaps displacing my needs onto other people, without examining them and seeing what's healthy or isn't healthy? And also what is it I am telling myself if I believe this message? When I've considered these questions, I've realized that poly, in the way I've approached it, has ended up being a crutch that has helped me avoid intimacy with myself, let alone someone else.

With that said, I know I'm capable of loving more than one person and I think it can be healthy to love more than one person. However, I know that even though I am capable, I also haven't really laid a strong foundation to support such relationships. I've closed my relationship with my wife, in part because I know that I can't do good poly, if I can't even do good with a single relationship. We may never open the relationship up and that would be okay, because I would rather get it right with one person than continue to get it wrong with multiple people.

1-1-12 New year, new me. Today's mediation focused on judgement. In all honesty, I can be a fairly judgmental person, but show me someone who isn't. I don't think I know anyone who doesn't in one form or another judge others. But what Dragon pointed out is that the best thing I can do is acknowledge the judgments as I make them and then question them. So I applied that to judgments I'd made, and I realized as I looked at those judgements, how many of them were informed by things I had learned or observed about parenting based off how my parents raised me. It's an eye opening perspective that is helping me view the person in question in a different light, and consequently influences my interactions with him. And I guess that's the thing about judgements...where your judgements come from is based in part on experiences, observations, culture etc.

1-5-12 To be clear I'm not suddenly anti-polyamory. I think polyamory can work, and I know people who've made it work really well. But when I think about my desires, what I see that is problematic is my communication around those desires. It's not the desire itself that's a problem, but how I've communicated about it. Part of communication is vulnerability and that's not something I've handled well in the past. When you grow up self-sufficient and think that you can't rely on others, you don't let others in. With Kat, I've been learning how to be vulnerable, how to really open up, and also how to listen. Its taken me this long to learn those lessons in communication, but then again I think its takes many people time to learn such lessons.

1-9-12 I've been meaning to write this since I realized it. I was feeling antsy the other day and when I got to the heart of my restless, I realized something fantastic, liberating really. I realized how much I've been drawn to, addicted (that could be too strong) to newness. Neophilia. It's something that plays out in multiple areas of my life. New homes every few years, new relationships after a year or two, new jobs every so often, new video games (those aren't so bad), new, new, new...And I realized I'm not really used to being stable or establishing roots. I don't have many friends from long ago that I've stayed in touch with. Stabilizing myself, getting stable that's just nothing something I've done. That search for newness has always stirred up some kind of drama and restlessness. Stabilizing with Kat, settling into a relationship and intentionally focusing on just that relationship...That's new for me, but a different kind of new. I don't need a fresh injection of something new to take away something blue. I just need to settle in and trust in what I discover as a result.

1-12-11 I'm reading the Art of War, which is about blocks to a person's creativity. One of the forms of Resistance is Sex: "Sometimes Resistance takes the form of sex, or an obsessive preoccupation with sex. Why sex? Because sex provides immediate and instant gratification. When someone sleeps with us, we feel validated and approved of, even loved...In my experience, you can tell by the measure of hollowness you feel afterward. The more empty you feel, the more certain you can be that your true motivation was not love or even lust, but Resistance."

That quote speaks to a lot of my experiences with sex. Sex to feel loved to feel approved of, but also that emptiness feeling, that hollow sense of non-gratification, that desperate air of the hungry ghost. I know that all too well. Sex, for a long time, was just the big empty. Sometimes I used it to escape from everything, and sometimes all it really did was remind me of how hollow my life was. Nowadays it's different, the sex is more about connection, an intentional conscious bond.

I've also been thinking about how I spend money. I'm mostly satisfied with my choices, but there's also a sense of: what do I really have to show for it? I'm tired of just floating in some space. I want to make definite plans, move forward, and although I have a better financial sense of things then I used to have, and can make my pennies squeak for all their worth, I've also got a feeling of wanting more for that buck.

All of these things are distractions from that internal fire, yet they are also relevant to my fire, because they are shadows cast by the flames. I feel like a lot of my life has just been a shadow. I've never really known fire...I've just known a shadowy impression.

1-17-12 One of the activities that Kat and I have committed to doing involves reading books on relationships and money together. We're currently reading Your Money or Your Life and Journey of the Heart. Both are excellent books and as I re-read them, I catch things I hadn't previously gotten in the first reading. And what it makes me realize is how important it is to cultivate your inner fire. I've only seen shadows and I'd allowed my fire to gutter out, especially several years ago. Now I'm feeling more creative than I ever have been, more inspired really, and at the same time happier than I've ever been.

Yet I think I had to let my fire gutter out. I had to experience what it was like to lose that edge, so that I could really appreciate what I have with it. When I did the Love and Emptiness workings in particular, I put myself through the abyss and experienced my shadows fully. Identity saw me crawl out of the abyss and start a path of re-discovery, which continued through the year of Time and space and has moved into this year of Fire. But a big part of that work has also been an intentional cultivation and creation of my relationship with Kat, and that very intentional focus has also spread to cultivating that internal fire that inspires my creativity.

A fire that isn't carefully cultivated goes out eventually, but if you know to feed the fire, you can keep it going for a long, long time. The books I read with Kat and the conversations we have around them feed my soul and creativity. There are perspectives she offers that I in turn apply to my life. I have a true partner, someone who is willing to walk this journey with me, and so I find that I have help cultivating that inner mounting flame.

1-20-12 There is something to be said for being in an uncomfortable space, because of the opportunities it affords you to grow. I've said that before, and I'll likely say it again, but I realize it anew in the context of choices I've made in my relationship with Kat and in my life in general. I've always had a fear of letting someone in. Most people only get to a certain level of closeness and then I keep them there. I know where it comes from. It comes from having the rug pulled out from underneath me when I was 10. One day I had a step-mom, I called mom, and the next day I had someone taking out her anger and frustration on me. And this has been a rinse and repeat cycle several times over. It's hard, consequently, to really trust someone, to really believe that the closeness you feel is genuine, or that it will last. My biggest challenge with Kat has really come down to opening up to her and telling her where I am at, or how I am feeling, when I feel afraid to be that honest. Coming from a life, where I learned early on that it was better to hide an unpleasant truth, learning to be truthful enough to no longer hide has been hard. Yet when I look at previous relationships, I clearly can acknowledge that my dishonesty hurt those other people far more and created far worse problems, than if I had simply opened up and been honest. Yes, the truth might not be something the other person wants to hear, but at least it will set us free to be present with each other, instead of just going through the motions.