"PARTS"

October 9, 2014

 

In the spring of 1968 I was in Hue, Viet Nam, a brief stop before returning to my base.  I spent the evening in a tent with some other young guys one of whom was from the San Francisco area who had been a guitar player in a rock band.  He turned us all on to a John Mayall album that is commonly referred to as the "Beano" album, a reference to the cover where one member of the band, maybe Clapton is reading a Beano comic book.  It was my first experience of being truly awakened by something.  From that day on I wanted to play guitar.

 

When I came home I started playing only to find out how difficult teaching yourself can be. You can imagine how frustrating it was to find that electric guitar didn't come naturally to me, and my brief stint in a rock band was frustrating and intimidating.  This, in a sense, was my first experience with what I am going to call "parts."  This part of me that wanted to be a blues or fusion guitarist just wasn't that great.  It needed to be intuitive and creative, and this didn't align with another part of me, the very logical and visual brain.  I learned by seeing or reading, not by hearing.

 

Somewhere around 1970 I began to study classical guitar.  I took a few lessons from a violinist named Elenor Oxley, and inadvertantly kept the method book that she loaned me. I still have it.  I quickly realized that I could play just about anything if I could see it. Unfortunately the part that was in charge of working hard was inadequate, and I didn't put in the time necessary to excel, that and I didn't have great technical skills.  It has taken me many years to learn difficult pieces that were just too hard at the time, and got set aside on a shelf to be rediscovered years later.

I studied music at Monmouth College but graduated with instead a degree in English Literature.  When it came time to conduct the orchestra I simply could not.  And when speaking of parts, I think now we're getting to the point as this truly was a part, a very wounded, insecure part that just didn't think he was good enough.  Where did the wound come from?  I still don't have an answer to that.  Nothing in this life has been that traumatic.  And yet that part of me exists.  It has often held me back.  At times I overcome it, for example a brief period playing classical guitar, sometimes successfully, only to relapse back into insecurity.  This part has also plagued me in bike racing where at one point I did not "race" for three years because I could not overcome the anxiety associated with getting to the start line.

 

Those of us who have worked long in the mental health field, particularly at RAP know that this is not what we saw as parts, or what would more accurately be called alters, Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder.  I remember once walking into a counseling room with a young woman about thirty years old, and minutes later finding myself talking with a fifteen year old boy, my mind and eyes unable to tell me differently. This was probably the single most profound and yet destructive moment of my life.  It literally destroyed every concept I had of what we are. And though I don't dissociate to get to my parts, don't give them names; is it believable to suggest that we all have parts, or states of consciousness that we all slip in and out of, sometimes with less than good results?

 

Most all of us reach a point in life where the parts need to integrate.  Life changes so rapidly that you realize that there has to be something to hold on to.  And while grasping is quickly seen as the source of most of our troubles, this "It just has to be that way,"  we do need something to hold.  That something I would suggest would be something internal, a knowing, that life is inherently good, that we are inherently good, creative, loving beings capable of living a rich, full and meaningful life.

 

So on this day I sit with vision inward, knowing that this is the source of my peace.  I will never find it in the external world, the world of deception, lies and danger.  I look in, and find.......

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