We are all afraid. You are a snowflake.

Note: I didn’t actually remember writing this. My revision history tells me it was February 5, 2017, immediately following the 45th Inauguration. Since then, it has been sitting unpublished, buried among my drafts, and at some point I forgot about it–so much so that I was completely taken aback rereading my own words. Perhaps I thought it wasn’t finished? Rediscovering it today, I’ve decided it’s time. Please give it a moment. And then perhaps another.

classic-frozen-fractal

Fear is a privilege, and it’s a privilege we all have. In an infinite existence, our particular corner of a fractalized existence creates a perception of fear as unique as the snow on the ground.

When we begin to recognize fear for the beautiful tool that it is, we can begin to wake up. It is only when the unconscious becomes conscious that we can begin to understand the power that we hold.

Storytime.

A few years ago, my dreams started to change (and I mean my literal sleeping-state dreams, not my wishful figurative ones, though those soon followed–more on that later). And when I say “started to change,” I really mean they hit me square in the face seemingly overnight. My conscious self started to find her way to the surface of the projected characters of my sleeping mind, and I was afraid. I was more afraid than I had ever been.

Except that’s a lie. I was not more afraid than I had ever been. I was more consciously afraid than I had ever allowed myself to acknowledge. I saw horrors in my dreams that scared me into making the conscious decision to leave said dream and wake up safely in bed. I saw angry gods and fire and brimstone. I saw death and decay. I saw ancient conspiracies and murderous regimes, and as my intensely logical mind struggled to process what it was like to be conscious within its own unconscious projections, I began to fear things I had never feared before.

You know those few seconds of confusion that exist between the moments when your dreams fade into your conscious awareness when you wake up? Those moments when your brain is still struggling to acknowledge your physical existence and isn’t quite sure how to be awake? That’s what my brain was doing while I was still sleeping, and that confusion was seeping over into my waking life. I thought I was losing my mind.

Lucid dreaming taught me how to become conscious of the unconscious, to confront my fears–as hyperbole as they were in my dream state–and to recognize that becoming conscious of my fear enabled me to become conscious in my actions and how I responded to that fear. It taught me that I had control even in my dreams, which I had long accepted as being entirely unconscious. It taught me how to wake up, just in time for me to shake the cobwebs from the realities of our world. I may have been living awake in the 27 years that preceded my lucid dreaming, but I was only aware of my physical existence. I was not actively aware of what the world was telling me to be afraid of to keep me in submission, and I was not aware of how paralyzed I was.

Waking up has not changed my knowledge, but it has given me movement. I am awake, I am aware of the unconscious fears that have been projected onto me, I am aware of the autonomy I hold outside of those unconscious fears, and I am aware that I can take action. Life is a fractal, and my brain was trying to teach me how to wake up all along.

The powers-that-be have threatened us with eternal damnation and a world ruled by murderous chaos if we do not concede our intellectual autonomy to them. They have been gas-lighting us our entire lives with their twisted hegemonic rule. We’re told that if we don’t follow their rules of oppression against one another, it’s a quick and slippery slope to the bowels of hell, and whether we consciously accept their methods of control or not, they’ve found their way into our collective unconscious just the same. We put our perceived safety above the human rights of others because they’ve taught us that fear is an entity unto itself, instead of a tool we can learn to use to wake ourselves up. “Beware of false prophets.”

I will not shame you for still waking up. I know exactly what it’s like to be lost in the confusion of the world you thought you understood, and I know what it’s like to feel like your reality is falling apart. I know how debilitating that fear of such a reality can be. I also know that we must face this possibility in order to see beyond the walls of our own snowflake of fear in the fractal of our collective consciousness. I also know that as logical thinking beings, we often try to interpret our metaphorical lessons as falsely literal, and we fail to catch the meaning of the lessons.

Let the concept of your reality die–or at least be able to face it as a possibility–so that it can be reborn with eyes that see farther, and character that is not threatened by the insecurities of those who haven’t yet found the beauty and importance in the curves of their own snowflake.

You’ve been conditioned to be afraid your entire life, and you’ve been taught that fear is the most inconceivable onotological damnation we could ever know. You’ve been tricked into believing that fear is more than just a trigger we can use to pay closer attention to the world around us, and it’s forced you into giving up your intellectual autonomy. I will not shame you for still sleeping–we’re all still sleeping in some layer of the fractal–but I will continue to stop you from perpetuating the systems of violence and oppression that are keeping you under–that are keeping all of us under.

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All of the Flux Were Given

I’ve been here before. I mean, I haven’t actually been here before, but I know I’ve been here before. The colors are brighter; the clouds are softer; my thoughts are deeper. The magic is undeniable, but I can’t shake the feeling that I have been here before. Maybe it’s our natural desire to create familiarity out of the unknown–a way for our conscious self to file away new information into a pattern it can recognize…or maybe it’s actually my perception that is getting sharper. There’s an unwavering sense of unease stalking the deeper corridors of my inner self–a pulse only quelled in the moments when I remember my name–but that feeling…

…that intimately recognizable quiver…

I have most definitely been here before.

…I sat and stared at the standing water surrounding me. Stared. It seemed like such a catalyzing event the day my apartment flooded. I lost everything–furniture, scrapbooks, pictures…

Memories.

What’s in a memory?

My job would go two weeks later and my entire concept of reality just after that. Both my livelihood and the place I called home would sink back into the days that made up my past, while I’d be left paddling my way back to the surface, scrambling for any gasp of air I could manage to choke down my already water-soaked lungs. Everything about that summer would feel like it was falling apart, and every moment of that summer would find me in a whirlwind of dizzying emotions, glittering nightmares, a complete loss of identity and–more than anything–the most polarizing desire for human interaction I had ever experienced.

Tanya. Breathe.

Things were changing. I was changing. My immediate world had fallen into a crushing pile of sentimental rubble right in front of me, and it was all I could do to salvage what I could–to keep what really mattered. What matters to you, Tanya? All of the things I had been taught were key to my survival were swept away in the rapids of my existence, one after the other, just to turn around and rebuild themselves almost overnight–better, stronger, and increasingly more fascinating with each passing day. Though it looked like just a blur of stuff and things, everything changed for me that day in one of the most terrifying, awe-inspiring ways imaginable, and it was a mere reflection of what would continue to happen to me in the months to come.

“Happen to me.” Nothing happens to you, Tanya.

There’s something to be said about having nothing, about knowing nothing, and how it ultimately helps you find everything–

What matters to you, Tanya?

–things like the value of a genuine, heartfelt connection with another human being, balanced atop the head of your authentic independence.

I say polarizing because this is a difficult concept to come to terms with, and an even trickier waltz to dance. It took my life being ripped away from me for me to open my oxygen starved veins up to the reality of the world around me. It seems counter-intuitive, but it was the moment in which I lost everything that I was finally the most at ease in just taking a moment to reflect and feel triumphant for everything I had accomplished up until that point. You see, I’ve mastered the art of pulling myself and my life back together the moment my foundation cracks beneath me, and I’ve witnessed the conquering strength within me time and time again. I know exactly what I’m capable of and I have for quite some time. I’ve known it, but I haven’t allowed myself to own it.

Love. Love and vulnerability and trust. These are my weak points–not because I don’t love with every ounce of who I am, but rather because I don’t know how to let others love me. I don’t know how to be vulnerable. I don’t know how to trust. I don’t know how to believe that I matter to anyone other than myself, regardless of how much the rest of the world matters to me. I’ve lived in a world that has taught me to be fiercely independent, all while starving myself of the recognition for the independence I’ve so desperately fought to achieve.

That was you, Tanya. You were there when you needed yourself the most. You’ve always been there, over and over and over again. Stop auditing this lesson.

I have a bad habit of repeating lessons I’ve already learned, and I only tend to realize it for the brief moment in which I manage to complete the course before beginning again. It has nothing to do with my ability to retain, and everything to do with my lack of acknowledgment for myself. I suppose this probably began somewhere amongst the bitter voices that echo throughout my past, but at this point in the game, I’m not sure the origin holds nearly the importance of giving the lesson a name.

Wait…what? Yeah, that’s right, Moonchild.

A name. You see, the point of learning is not just to learn–it is also to recognize what it is that you have learned. Knowledge without context leaves us drowning in the same whirlpool of stimuli, reaction, observation and action. Connection. And connection.

con·nec·tion / kəˈnekSH(ə)n/
noun
1. a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else

Remember.

I’ve already learned the value of independence. I’ve already paid witness to it within myself many, many times. What I haven’t done is acknowledge myself as an independent person or even credit myself with half of what I’ve accomplished, and so I roll the word and what I think it may mean around in my fingertips, clawing at it far beyond its useful purpose. And then I do it again. And again. And again.

Tanya. Breathe. You can do anything, and you don’t have to prove it to yourself but once.

It seemed like such a catalyzing event the day my apartment flooded. I lost everything–furniture, scrapbooks, pictures…

Memories of self-doubt.

Everything about that summer would feel like it was falling apart, and every moment of that summer would find me in a whirlwind of dizzying emotions, glittering nightmares, a complete loss of identity and–more than anything–the most polarizing desire for human interaction I had ever experienced.

You’ve already learned the value of independence, but you don’t need it right now, so it’s time to put it down. It’s time to feel the banks on the other side of the river, and it’s time to learn how to allow yourself to need other people. It’s time to be You, and it’s time to connect…

VZM.IMG_20160104_154753

…there’s an unwavering sense of unease stalking the deeper corridors of your inner self–a pulse only quelled in the moments when you remember your name–but that feeling…

…that intimately recognizable quiver…

You have most definitely been here before.

Alpha Compliant

Danger

I first posted this on March 16, 2013, in my first round of blogging insights, before I took them down as I recognized their place in the bigger picture of my consciousness. Today–as I toy with the idea of a new entry surrounding the greater role of humanity–this needs to come first. Today–as all eyes are on us and how we react to those who would proclaim themselves “Alpha”–this is relevant again.

There’s this really intriguing thing that happens when I open up my laptop and realize I haven’t published anything in nearly six months–I feel really, really awful. You’d think I’d learn.

So, it’s been awhile, and whereas I could conjure up a whole slew of reasons why I haven’t engaged in the intimate relationship that exists between these supple alphanumeric keys and myself, I’ll spare you the melodrama. There’s really only one reason that matters: I haven’t been focused; I haven’t been inspired.

I haven’t been inspired enough to focus. Today, I am:

Compliancenoun \kəm-ˈplī-ən(t)s\

1: the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen or to coercion

2: a disposition to yield to others

3: the ability of an object to yield elastically when a force is applied

Every once in awhile, a seemingly innocent occurrence in my silly life leaves a lasting impression greater than I could have ever anticipated, and I’m left with the looming hint of an idea that plagues my mind and branches off in all sorts of wily directions. A couple weeks ago, I was snuggled up with a pint glass filled with a joyful concoction of ice cream and beer when I decided that #Netflixandchill would be my host for the evening. After two hours of the delightful duo of Kevin Costner and Sean Connery in Untouchables, it was turning out to be a night well spent, and I wasn’t ready to concede to my creeping age by crashing out early.

“Oh, look, there’s an independent film about a prank call resulting in the forced strip search of a teenage girl. It’s based on a true story, and the reviews all mention how painstakingly difficult it is to watch? That sounds like a *great* idea at one in the morning. Let’s do it.”

…I have the best ideas.

Compliance The next hour and a half of my life was spent crying, covering my eyes, hugging pillows to my chest, and flailing my limbs wildly about the living room, asking “why”. I cannot, with any sort of conscience, actually recommend that anyone view this film, unless they are thoroughly prepared for the emotional journey on which they are about to embark. Compliance is a brilliantly compiled film, directed by Craig Zobel, that will brutally shock you and ignite a desire to learn more about the events that served as inspiration for its creation. You will look it up, you will learn the devastating accuracy of the events depicted in the film, and your heart will break. The always adorable Dreama Walker plays the real-life role of our central victim, Louise Ogden, and she performs it with overwhelmingly convincing emotion.  The genius of the film, however, is in the supporting cast and the convincing execution of their roles (and the subsequent inquiries regarding human nature it brings about).

(Now, I could spend several paragraphs detailing the uncomfortable events that took place in restaurants across the United States, over the course of a decade, but I appeal to an educated audience and I trust you can read. Take a moment to catch yourself up, if you don’t already know the story–then, come back. Please.)

Depressing, right? For those of you who don’t quite care enough to read (you monsters), here’s what you need to know: a married father of five committed a series of prank phone calls to mostly fast-food restaurants, in which he impersonated a police officer to convince store managers to strip search and subject young girls to extended sexual humiliation/assault. And it worked about seventy times, in ten years.

Seventy. Times.

It’s awful.

And yet, I can almost guarantee your initial reaction is to balk at how absurd it is that anyone could ever fall for such a ruse. (I don’t even judge you for this reaction because I caught myself doing the same when in the midst of this beguiling stunt. That being said, we already know–at this point in our relationship, anyway–that I have a propensity for making examinations beyond the norm, and I want to take this a bit further.)

Can we just get it out of the way and acknowledge that as an afterthought, none of us can possibly imagine falling for any of this? Cool. Thanks.

Now, let’s have a grown-up conversation about the implications.

This entire incident is something I consider to be a twisted, modern-day Milgram experiment, though the level of psychological play going on in the title incident of this film extends far beyond just that of power. History has shown us that the psychological power dynamics that frame our social interactions are vast and upsettingly consistent. When put in a situation to defer responsibility, humans will demonstrate a tendency to obey orderseven in direct contradiction of their own moral foundations–rather than challenge perceived authority.

Now, you may try to refute the likelihood of this occurrence in modern-day society (seeing as this classic experiment was conducted nearly fifty years ago, and times were *certainly* different back then), but I have an answer for you there, as well: they repeated the experiment, less than five years ago, and they observed the same results.Milgram

People are vulnerable to authority.

People are obedient.

People *love* to be obedient.

As human beings, we still embrace our yearnings for things like high-fat diets and subordination, despite our over-developed frontal lobes, and the immense ability they grant us for introspection and contemplation. Why? Why is such an intelligent and acutely self-aware species so susceptible to such seemingly animalistic instincts?

The answer is simple: at the end of the day, you and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals…and we can’t all be alphas.

In some respects, it is still hardwired into us to hunt and gather any meal we can, while still relying on our leader to guide us safely from one death trap to the next. Survival has always been the name of the game, and if you’ve ever wondered how people can possibly be content to go through life without being the most dominant personality in the room, you simply have to look at the social dynamics of a pack mentality:

Alphas are few and far in between, and the rest of society falls into a spectrum.

Look at the experiment again. Look at the variance in resistance, and the approximate percentages of those responses. When thrown into stressful, extreme situations, the reigning human instinct is to absolve ourselves of responsibility–we become nothing but a herd of sentient beings.

Now, when you become aware of this social phenomenon, and you acknowledge the consequences of this awareness in the context of the central story of this rambling of mine, it begs the question: who is to be held responsible, and for which parts?

Is it the manager? Her fiancé? What about the caller?

power playnoun

1: an aggressive attempt to compel acquiescence by the concentration or manipulation of power

As sentient beings, we expect ourselves, and one another, to be unconditionally aware of our more primal characteristics. We expect to overcome them; we expect others to conquer them. I don’t think the line is nearly as black and white as we’d like to believe. On one hand, we are intelligent, self-thinking beings, and as such, we are responsible for our own actions. On the other, history has repeatedly shown, on all levels of social interaction, that the majority of society will follow the steps of the authority figures in their lives, beyond the point at which they lose all sense of identity. So, what of the alpha that exploits this in his fellow man? What kind of responsibility follows that kind of awareness? Or is he just a victim of unfinished evolution, himself?

We’re still such a nubile species with an incomprehensible amount to learn, and at the end of the day, the awareness surrounding our mammalian brain has a very, very long way to go. But if we ever hope to survive our own self-perpetuated destruction, we MUST break the cycle. We MUST become aware of our darkest desires so that we may understand them, and move beyond them.

But first we must acknowledge them: Gluttony. Abuse. Obedience. They do not serve us. They just might destroy us.

It’s time to wake up.