The Plastic Paradox: ReWilding The Self -5
I am at a dangerous point in writing about this rewilding of the self. The perfectionist parasites of self-judgment inside tell me, “Shut up!” Old patterns war against desirable new patterns of being; loyalty to the fear of self-expression would kill loyalty to the freedom and joy of trusting one’s self.
The entangled complexity of these threads that weave a self into construction also threaten to overwhelm with vagueness and generality whatever I would write. And it is not simplistic thinking that is sought here but the clear perceiving and presentation that arrives with a willingness to see courageously ‘what is.’
I write of this rewilding of the self because I seek to expose elemental movements and flows within Life’s spiral of transformation—when Life is allowed its natural attraction and affection for itself, its thrivability.
This impulse of attraction and desire for expression is innate and shared among all Life and so drives entire cycles of evolution: Life wants to happen. The impulse is ‘hardwired’ into the neural circuitry and hormonal flows of our physiological being at cellular levels. It is what gives Life its organic capacity for adaptation and transform-ability, plasticity. And therein lies the neuro-plastic crux of the paradox we find ourselves in. Daily. In small and big ways.
Norman Doidge, M.D., writes of this crux in The Brain That Changes Itself, where he calls it, “the plastic paradox.’
…neuroplasticity isn’t all good news; it renders our brains not only more resourceful but also more vulnerable to outside influences. Neuroplasticity has the power to produce more flexible but also more rigid behaviors—a phenomenon I call “the plastic paradox.” Ironically, some of our most stubborn habits and disorders are products of our plasticity. Once a particular plastic change occurs in the brain and becomes well established, it can prevent other changes from occurring. It is by understanding both the positive and negative effects of plasticity that we can truly understand the extent of human possibilities.
So it is that our resilience, or the ‘neuroplastic’ capacity and power of the human for adaptability, can orient toward rigidity and fear and externalized power. Our resilience, the plasticity of the brain, can serve our personal and cultural self-destruction, our domestication and subjugation. There is a balancing power of orientation within however that is yet more primal, and that we can choose to orient by the way one can find water in the desert by sensuously attending to ones senses.
This is the power of Life to awaken to itself—the power residing within Life to attend to its attraction for flexibility and learning and growth, for biophilia and authenticity of being and the creative nurturance of thrivability for all our relations. This power of the Life force residing within us is capable of celebrating the individuality and diversity of humanity and Life while honoring the Oneness of the thread of which we are all woven.
Turning toward Life is this way, when you have been raised to orient toward separation and self-censorship as strategies of preserving life, is to rewild yourself. It is to turn toward freedom and claim that which is your birthright.
Here is a small piece of how the freedom of self-creation looks from within the plastic paradox: to judge yourself or another with condemnation, for orienting toward fear and greed and power or jealousy… is to strengthen those forces on the planet. Such judgments strengthen the forces of duality and separation and is why war cannot create peace.
To rewild ourselves from within a culture that is fundamentally oriented against Life is to attend to the impulse within to move toward your own wholeness and creative being, in the service of Life’s wild joy.
Let that be enough. The gap between here and there is never larger than it is in the moment of Now.
Where in your life do you serve authenticity and wholeness? And where do you serve separation and fragmentation? Therein are our loyalties revealed.
The bad news is that we are culturally entrained toward loyalty to living inside the coral. The good news is… there is a deeper itch yearning to be scratched.
Resources of the Moment:
Anima: Lifeways and Herbal School