"Are you able to look beneath the surface? Go to the deep dark places and explore what is there. Ask what's beneath that? And what's beneath that? Look for what is underneath your assumptions of life. That's where you find something that will touch the soul." This quote, from Barnet Bain in What Dreams May Come, was in my daily e-mail script tip from Screenwriting U this week, and it jumped off the page at me.
This is what I have been doing in my personal life since the summer, looking deep beneath the surface at many of the ugly traits and fears which linger there. It's never easy to turn over this dirt in our soul which has laid undisturbed for decades, but much of the subtext of our lives comes from these dark places, and I'm trying to stop living in the shadows and start living in the light.
Fear is a big part of why we don't bother with these cellars in our subconscious. We worry that we will be overwhelmed with what we find buried there, but when I began to dig, I found that the fear subsided the deeper I got, because the anxiety was worse than what I actually found there. It hurts, there is no avoiding that, but when we see what we've been hiding, and decide to change the patterns which are unhealthy and not helping us at all, we move forward, and what is lurking in the darkness loses its hold on us.
This quote was given in the context of writing, of digging deep for your characters to find what is driving them, and what is under the surface of any given interaction, but I found it to carry meaning for my personal life as well. We all have assumptions that we don't even think about, and when we do stop to look at them, we may be surprised at what we find there.
It's not easy to look honestly at ourselves. Many people go from birth to death without ever really accessing the courage to be honest about who they are. We all fail, and no one is perfect, but the goal isn't perfection. It's growth, and progress, and becoming a little bit kinder and more loving with each day we are alive.
At least those are my goals. And I know I can't get there without looking unflinchingly at what is hiding in the shadows. It's not easy, but I believe that it is worth every tear I've cried and every shock I've uncovered. Honesty is much harder than lying to yourself, but it gets you much further down the road to being authentic and truly who you were meant to be, with no disguises. For better or for worse, that's the only life I want to live from now on.