April 8, San Mateo, CA: I'm reading an interesting book about the "dark side" of humans. Really thought provoking. The book begins by suggesting that each person has both "dark" and light sides. The dark side encompasses those traits which we have learned, though socialization or rearing or both, are negative. Bad traits. Things that we should aspire to be rid of. But if we can acknowledge that we all have tendencies that fall into that darkness, then we may only be convincing ourselves to hide that darkness, whatever it may be. So the book goes on further to suggest that we shouldn't try to hide any parts of ourselves; it leads to self-judgment when the inevitable offensive emotion surfaces, which turns into judgment of others. In a nutshell, the dark side owns you because you refuse to own it, coming up at the most inopportune times. These are issues that I have become increasingly aware of in myself. The self-judgment, the judgment of others, then tendency to be disgusted by seeing your "dark" traits manifest in another person. Its all very familiar and part of what Ive been exploring over the past few months. But the new idea being presented to me is to embrace, not just accept, those traits you've always been taught were worthless or evil. And not only that...the book suggests that those "dark" traits are actually just over-expressed parts of your personality. The may be misplaced and outsized for desired interaction, but learning what is valuable about them can help you, first, love all of yourself and, second, use them in a positive way.
I was thinking about this in the context of myself. One thing that I've always said is that I don't like to be the center of attention. The reason that people gather in a place. But I think what has really been true is that I have never wanted to be perceived as someone who craved attention. But sometimes I do. For years, I had never had a birthday party. Then, two years ago, my girlfriend at the time threw a very small one for me. It was such a wonderful gesture, I loved it, and it was a very emotional experience for me, but somehow I didn't feel deserving. I wanted to feel loved and celebrated, but I felt a bit guilty about it when it happened. Was it because I didn't like the attention or because I didn't want to like it? I don't really know. Fast forward to last Friday...I remember being at the gallery and being the reason that people had come together. It was wonderful. But I still think I am made a little more comfortable when I tell myself that people showed up to see my images, and not me. I know that is a silly notion to apply to my friends who care about me, but I am not sure I'm ready to embrace the part of me that does like being the center of attention. I can see how doing so could help me channel the impulse. Instead of being a poor listener at times, and turning conversations back to being about me, I might not feel such a need. Instead of the need for attention surfacing when I don't want it to, I can display it if and when it makes sense. Apparently there's a time and a place for everything, according to the author. Even hate. There's an interesting idea.