A Contribution by Kevin McEvenue
Photo Credit: Diana Scalera, East Village, NY 2009
When the opportunity to tune into myself and hear myself speak out like this, my body responds immediately as though I am having this experience all over again. At the same time, I am noticing that I am doing so. This enables me to hold both at the same time, one after the other. The physical experience in the moment coming alive again, and then to be able to report to you what that brings in my consciousness as a thought about this experience. So, I am trying once again to hold both the experience and then the thought from which the experience has awakened.
This short recording of about 15 minutes seems to have a series of three different physical experiences that seem to follow one after the other, coming with the first outburst, “I am stuck!”
“I am stuck, I am so stuck etc.” seems to awaken a very powerful shaking in my body, vibrating all through me. Just a few simple but very clear words, but direct and passionate in its delivery with the full force of intention. “I am stuck!”
I am almost shocked that I can actually speak out this way as though I have broken some kind of taboo. I say it again because I feel I want to—as though I like the sound of my voice. “I am stuck.” I actually begin to smile—almost into laughter—and say even more clearly with more vigor—as though I am enjoying myself!
This vocal experience, sounding off like this, feels very new and very freeing, breaking through some kind of prohibition that I mustn’t speak. I must not say this or something bad will happen to me. There is also a fear right there that is so familiar, a fear that stops me from expressing myself, fearing that something very, very, bad will happen! A belief embedded in me that comes right there when I have a deep reactive felt response that feels so not right. Yes, something bad will happen, I’m sure of it. This fear is like I will go to hell for all eternity, I will be punished severely, I will break my mother’s heart. Very dramatic fears that hold me back enough to remain silent.
But in this moment, as I hold both the experience and then my awareness, something also happened at the same time that I can mark right now. I can feel the physical vibration, the shaking. The fear is there and the words that come saying, “I mustn’t”! but there is more in this experience that feels new. My body is moving, shaking out, vibrating all the way through me, the very opposite of what one would describe as being ‘stuck’! The stuck is not happening, something new is happening and it seems as a very different experience of what that word ‘stuck’ points to!
The word is still there–‘stuck,’–but the experience has moved on to something quite different from what I believe that word is pointing to: stuck in place, rigid, held, tight etc. That is not the experience I am having right now; something quite different, something that I can’t describe, no words yet but the feel of it is so different! What I also notice is that I am noticing. That I have some sense of space to notice these two different expectations and reactions which enables me not only to notice but also to choose, to choose what I might want, rather than the familiar habitual response (I mustn’t), some form of stoppage. I am actually enjoying it, enjoying my own empowerment that I can choose, perhaps for the first time. And I like that.
The whole situation has changed, and in this moment, by holding both, I can speak and perhaps even begin to put words to what has now happened. Physically, I am shaking all over, and at the same time I am enjoying myself in this experience, enough to keep repeating it with a kind of bad-boy intention, I am feeling so stuck, ha ha ha! Yes, whatever is happening, even before I can put words to it, I know I’m having a life-affirming experience right now and I want it. Yes, that kind of bad-boy sounding out there feels almost sexual and knotty in some way. I am feeling so stuck now feels so good: so stuck, so good! And I’m not in hell! My mother is not there, nothing bad is happening! So, I play with the freedom of that, enjoying the freedom that comes in speaking that way, speaking out against something that I believe must never be said!
I am allowing myself to express “what I mustn’t” with passion! It is as though I am almost daring to challenge life itself!
I realize this is only the first part of the recording. As I enjoy this speaking out in this way and having this enjoyable experience of empowerment, something more comes in my consciousness to remind me of something else about myself. Something of how it was for me as a young boy growing up in the school where I didn’t seem to fit in because my experience was different from those of other boys. This is coming out of nowhere now, but the recording seems to have moved on towards another experiencing that want to be noticed too. Other painful places that are stuck in some kind of old belief systems.
I was reminded about being in grade 3, being taught basic arithmetic. I was taught “1+1= 2″. It was implied that this was the first principle of mathematics; truth number one and all else follows. But I was surprised that what seemed to be the accepted truth was not my experience! In fact, I could not accept that this statement was true at all! I knew I had to comply and pretend, perhaps, that I agree with it. But at the same time, I knew in my heart that this was not true for me. What to do? How to live with that split in me? It is still there, stuck!
So, I took the opportunity here to play with my experience once again with counting the numbers from 1 to 10 and then to notice how that was for me. As I spoke out these words slowly, I was surprised to find myself able to count is this felt way, pausing before the next number presents itself. It seemed to make room for another experience that didn’t exclude the mathematical principle, but it included something more too, a sense of space inside, a spaciousness around me and beyond me, life happening over there too.
So the principle could be accepted as a truth, a function that worked in a particular way, but I also could make room for other experiencing happening at the same time. It was not a question of having to choose one or the other. I have the capacity to hold both. The basic principle of mathematics seems to come from a different place, kind of man-made place. Perhaps an essential place for a man to function today. In short, I was able to hold both for more. So much more which included not only thinking but also feeling, tasting, touching, smelling, seeing, hearing etc. So rather than arguing with this formula, there was room in me to expand my experience of more possibilities that are also true, each in their own way. Not just one truth, perhaps many; many I have no sense of—at least not yet.
Feeling satisfied with this long-held anxiety about basic principles around mathematics and finding some kind of peace with the ability to hold differing ways of thinking and experiencing, something new appeared out of the blue again. What came was the recent memory of a shared experience with another person in a Heartfelt Listening situation. It seemed directly connected to the first experience of “I feel stuck”. That kind of sounding off reminded me when another person just did something similar, similar enough that felt somehow mutual like, “we know this place!”
This person said something out loud as she noticed her hands. Staring at them she cried: “My hands are so busy, they are always so busy, they never stop, they drive me crazy.”
I listened to her outburst and also noticed her hands. I noticed her hands were pulled inward at the beginning and then they seemed to do something quite different when she gave voice to what she felt about that. That kind of direct voicing of such an experience seemed to awaken her hands to expand in some new way. They looked bigger, with a different kind of expressing. She too was struck by happening in here, in her hands, and I heard her say, “Oh my God, my hands feel so different, they feel so loving of me. Wow, I love that!”
That whole thing over there, in her, felt true in me too! It felt like she was speaking ‘truth’. And as she did it, I could see the change happening. Her hands seemed to take on a life of their own, independent of her prior outburst of pent-up frustration. They seem to be coming from a very different place now.
What was also very surprising in me was that my own hands were doing something similar too! Something was happening in my hands that felt good, very life-affirming. And I wanted to speak up. I didn’t quite know how to describe that, so I said something: “It feels like I am borrowing your hands for a moment so that my hands can do something like that for me too.” And as I spoke, I could feel my hands beginning to move upward beside my head space to nourish this part of me that had felt so tight and tense at the start of this recording.
Something mutual had happened between us, a kind of ‘energy presence’ that was not of our own making, a presence that has a mind of its own that was mutually supportive in both of us each in our own way. It felt like a Heartfelt Connection as though I could say, “loving is happening here!” Something loving was happening between us that was life supporting for each of us as needed! The only way I could describe this was that “the life in her hands seemed to awaken the life in my hands for more in some way that was needed in my life too.”
The whole thing seems to be complete and I knew it was time to end the recording. So many different events in my life seemed to come together in one moment of integration and awareness in a variety of very different situations at different times and events in my life. Coming together one after the other right now. So grateful, Amen.