Posts Tagged ‘growth’

The presence of me

May 21, 2011

I wonder where our old ways of being end up after we have let go of them?

We all have habits, attitudes, and personas that we embrace and reflect, calling these features our “personality.” Some people cling to their personality no matter what the cost even when it does not serve them well, but others of us only tolerate our ways of being until something better comes along. Life demands growth. Some of this growth is manifested in physical changes, but most of it is a remodeling of our internal structures out of experience, necessity, or enlightenment. Who we were one moment ago is suddenly awkward and out of place. We discard the facets that no longer fit.

I used to smoke cigarettes. And I wasn’t casual about it either. I was a deadly serious smoker. Two packs a day for 16 years. When I was 28, my life circumstances congealed into this mass of complication that made smoking uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unnecessary.

I was serious about quitting, too. It took me four years and all sorts of experimental new behaviors before I knew I would never pick up another cigarette. I was six months into being a nonsmoker when the realization hit me that I was finished with cigarettes. I no longer desired to inhale smoke and nicotine, nor did I miss twirling a cigarette between my fingers. I knew my withdrawal and adaption to being a nonsmoker was complete when I no longer felt as if I was going to strangle any person who looked at me crossways. At that moment, I discovered that the old wives’ tale was really true: smoking does stunt your growth. I was happy to embrace the new non-smoking me. The me who I became then has lived life in a way that the smoking-me never could have.

But I still wonder where that smoker person I used to be ended up – the one who never went anywhere without cigarettes and a Flick-your-Bic lighter. And where is her cousin . . . the one who walked around flexing her fists and making red-hot eye contact with anyone who dared speak a contrary word?

Are they waiting in some kind of life antechamber for the next unsuspecting soul who requires a method to make it through adolescence? That is why I started smoking in the first place. The high school I went to was more of a teenage zoo where the teachers and principal were sometimes worse than the students. Smoking put me inside a crowd where most of those nitwits did not want to venture. I needed to cope and smoking-me came into my life. Her cousin came along to reinforce her presence. Anytime I did not have a cigarette when I wanted one, the cousin would twitch and snarl until I fed her some nicotine.

I have no desire to ask them to come back, but their absence makes me wonder: what other ways of being am I ready to say goodbye to? And because life is ruled by the third law of Newton’s physics: to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction, I have to believe that there are other me’s waiting for me to invite them into my life.

Okay, this blog is already too long and I have digressed in three different ways. More to explore in the days to come – I need to visit that antechamber and meet me.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of virtual restoration

June 28, 2010

I am once again all powerful and pack a fireball that can knock out an enemy with a simple wave of my hand.

My trinkets, my jewels, my gear, my weapons, my gold, my herbs, my potions, and my confidence have been restored to my virtual characters on World of Warcraft. They came to me via virtual e-mail from the virtual presence of a person who I believe to be as real as I am. All of the items are exactly what I lost . . . even the money which was counted down to the last copper penny. The virtual memory of digital life left a blueprint so that everything could be replicated.

In three dimensional life, perfect replication is impossible. Inside binary code, perfect replication is a necessity. For computer programs to successfully work, they must do the exact same thing over and over and over again. Everything can be restored completely and, if you do the back-up systems and keep the memory intact, you can replicate virtual existence at any point in the past.

But if just one digitized zero is misplaced, the program code goes haywire. All of it. You have to find that missing zero and replace it for virtual life to continue. Virtual life then goes on as if nothing had happened.

Restoration in three dimensional life is a little different. I am changed as a result of the intrusion upon my virtual life. Just because my virtual personas have been made whole, does this mean I have been made whole as well? Nothing is missing from my presence, except that the trust I place upon other virtual presences has been altered. The presence of the thieves has caused me to pull my trust closer and withhold it from them. My willingness to trust changed also because of the response of the company who sells and maintains the World of Warcraft environment. It expanded and grew larger to encompass more of the people who work there.

It is difficult for me to separate out what was a voluntary decision on my part and what is my instinctive programming. Trust is a survival quality that we are born with and needs to be tended to with mindful attentiveness. To gain the trust of others, we must replicate behaviors with reliable consistency. If we falter and fail just once, the trust program in others changes. Restoration is a long and arduous process.

I am more whole today than I was before. Every life incident teaches me, enlarges me, expands me, and grows me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass