My Natural State

It is a beautiful thing when the scaffolding comes down.

Given how old and developed Manhattan already is I’ve been stunned by the amount of ongoing construction. That coupled with the codes requiring prewar buildings to redo their face every several years results in, oh about 30 – 40% of the city being wrapped in scaffolding at any given time. There’s always something being built or refinished.

When the scaffolding finally comes down the streets are unrecognizable. I’ll get out of a subway station where the construction has ended and be certain I’ve gotten off at the wrong stop for a full three seconds. The sidewalks become spacious and roomy, sunlight pours in, and you no longer have to dodge ugly green pillars.

This is the natural state of things. Bare. Open.

The process of discovering ourselves follows the same pattern.

I believe the prevailing opinion of the day is that in order to “find” ourselves we must embark on some elaborate spiritual journey, travel to exotic lands, surround ourselves with a nest of scented candles and read Eat, Pray, Love for the fifth time while crying loudly and unashamedly into a bowl of gelato.

Having tried all of that, I am not mocking anyone else who has, does, or is.

But in my experience it simply doesn’t work that way. We don’t ever have to go “find” ourselves. We’re here all along. We just have to remove the the ugly green pillars, the things interfering our personalities– fear, anger, jealously and so on and so forth.

It’s about clearing the obstructions. Scaffolding serves a purpose and so do our defense mechanisms. Namely, to defend. (Stop me when this gets hard). Except rather than effectively serving that purpose, our defense mechanisms distort our personalities and beget the very circumstances they were intended to prevent. We end up wounded, alone and scared.

For the majority of my life I’ve identified myself as an angry, depressed and manipulative person. As I’ve had faith in the people that care about me, those behaviors have either fallen away entirely or have at least drastically diminished. I’ve come to appreciate that none of those things were defining characteristics of me personally, but merely a way I’d adapted to pain.

The sunlight is pouring through and the streets have transformed. I’m unrecognizable. It’s a beautiful thing when the scaffolding comes down.

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