March 21, 2011

The Obstruction

In times of great transition, I often turn to the I Ching, a tradition passed down to me by my father. I bought my own Book of Changes in my early 20's and have logged each and every roll of the coins that has been done since, even for my friends. When you roll the coins, you usually end up with two numbers, your main number which gives you the passage to look up which describes the heart of your situation, and the changing lines number, which shows one possible future. It's amazing to look through the history of my "logs" and cross-reference whether a particular number has ever come up before, and to note the date, and recall what might have been going on in my life at that particular time.

This past 6 months has been one of the most difficult stretches of my life, and I'm more than a little ashamed to say, that I didn't weather the storms like a strong oak, rooted in the strength that many perceive that I possess. Instead, I bent and broke and spiraled into a very dark place a more than a few moments of true life or death crisis. Thankfully, I was able to get help, and am here to today to write about it, and to somehow forgive myself (hopefully) for not having the fortitude that I should.

When I found myself turning to the I Ching last September, as everything in my life seemed to be crashing down around me, I rolled a 39 with no changing lines, which represents a fixed situation. This hexagram is called Obstruction, and is represented by "a dangerous abyss lying before us, and a steep inaccessible mountain rising behind us. We are surrounded by obstacles." As I read further, it was clear that I had many personal obstacles that I needed to focus on overcoming. Because the obstacles are represented by things that do not move (a mountain and an abyss), a hint lies in how to overcome these obstacles. Change and movement are necessary. One must travel around the obstacles.

Some time passed, I had broken up with The Nurse in October, moved out of our shared apartment, gotten into therapy, and set about trying to conquer my inner obstacles. But as I took two steps forward, I took one step back. Healthy boundaries remained an issue in my relationships. I was still not rooted, the next storm would surely blow me away. In January, I turned to the I Ching again, and to my shock, I rolled a 39 again.
I scanned the log — this had never happened before, two exact rolls in sequence. "The Obstruction" remained.

Would I ever get around the mountain that lay before me? Cross the abyss? Did I even have the courage to try? I knew that I had to start being true to myself, to have the courage to let go and to start over again. That I am worthy of love, of family, of belonging. That someone will understand me. And that I am strong enough to stand on my own, and be a "strong oak."

On March 5, I turned again to the I Ching, and at last, I had a new passage, this time with changing lines. The first passage was 15, Modesty, which speaks of the qualities of inner strength and how that shines forth in people of strong character. The changing lines was 31, Wooing and speaks of attraction and the difference between seduction and courtship -- something that struck me as particularly poignant. I was longing for what I had lost: love, partnership, family.

The only words I can think of to close this blog are the lyrics of, Amazing Grace,....was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.....