Monday, September 9, 2013

Acoustic interlude

Acoustic interlude

September 3, 2013

Recently a high-ranking service member and I were talking about trauma. He said that even he, after a deployment, found himself looking for IED’s while driving on the roads here at home. While he noticed that after a while it diminished, he was amazed by how traumatic events register at some level even for those who think they are well insulated from such things. We agreed that none of us is immune. Clearly this service member was able to see the absurdity of looking for bombs on the side of the road back in the States. I suspect this helped diminish the impact over time.

    Of all the truths that have given way in the course of my life, two seem to have survived. The first comes from the Christian teaching that the world is essentially broken, including each of us. I find it interesting that the first thing God said to Adam in the story of beginnings (Genesis) was to name the animals. Naming things identifies them and differentiates them from everything else. It is important, for example, to be able to differentiate a lion from a cat. It could save your life. It is okay to pet the cat.... but not so for the lion! Traumatic experiences often continue an unnamed existence and exert a powerful influence on us.  Acknowledging that things are broken gives us permission to name the experiences that are so overwhelming that they resist definition. Naming it helps differentiate it from the other things in our experience. 

    The other is the Zen teaching on acceptance. Placed along side each other, they form a way to embrace the need for balance. As I listened to a piece of music I had quickly recorded, I noticed the it calming effect it had on me. We need interludes, moments that interrupt, and challenge our assumptions about ourselves and our situation. Literally, we need to "give ourselves a break" from expectations that are simply out of reach. Let it go...let it go.