Still(a)Life#21: Hidden Layers Crack through the Surface


All of experience is a layered occasion. At any given moment, there is more to each experience than that which lies on the surface. Conscious and unconscious. Apparent and hidden. Suppressed versus expressed. For the most part, we present to the world an outer layer. A shell hardened by time, social norms and experience. It’s a shell designed to safely keep hidden the more vulnerable aspects of ourselves. The unborn parts we have not yet had the courage to enact and the missing parts we have not been able to find a place for. The thing is, we struggle to admit to ourselves what it is that we really want or to face the things we find too uncomfortable. We stick to the surface of things.

Lockdown slowly compresses these layers, they collapse in on each other and the things we have been hiding away or hiding from, crack through the surface. The husband chooses to sleep in his office. The wife struggles to hide her difficulty with food. The child refuses to go back to his mother’s house. The lover decides she is no longer settling for less.

My phone has started to vibrate in the night. The rumble of people’s layers stirring to the surface. Our initial tendency is to quickly find a place for these thoughts and feelings. Make sense of them. Move on. Put everything back together. This is not the time for getting “back to normal”. Not everything has a neat place.

The world outside our windows is changing as you read this. And, if you want to find out where you are in that world, it starts with a journey inward. Embracing the change does not start with holding on but with letting go.

“The only way to find out where I was was to get out of the way and let myself happen.”
― Mark Epstein, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

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