Torture As Service

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

How you use that experience is up to you.   Do you complain about it, about how it blocked your desires?   Do you use that experience to help you find a different way to get what you want?   Do you value that experience as a gift, as something to help you focus your desires and help others?

The experiences that I have inform my own understanding.   Because they do that, they also inform what I can offer to others, the support, assistance and love that I can give to them.

From a very young age I understood a big part of my role to be translator, helping my Aspergers parents to get a bigger vision of the world.   In second grade my teacher saw me reaching out to help others around me understand.  I got the lesson, didn’t need to work at it, but I could help others learn, assisting them to get the picture.

Hello, I’m Callan, and I am here to help.

I was about ten when I took my first confirmation class, when the minister understood that the theological was easy for me.   I just got it, maybe because I needed the bigger picture, maybe because it was in context, or maybe because it was my gift.

During my time in the trans community, from about 1988 to 2000, I was there to help others gain perspective by offering my time, my engagement, my listening, my awareness, my vision and the benefits of my experience.   While I knew that their journey was personal and unique, I also knew that they needed the mirroring, the affirmation and the encouragement that I always wanted, someone to help empower them to emerge into being more fully themselves.

When all we have around us is people who need to maintain their own compartments, the shared rationalizations & beliefs, it is hard for us to trust our own experience, to learn from what we got when we didn’t get what we wanted.

My life has not turned out the way that I wanted.   What I got for that, though, is bags and bags full of experience.   Even my experience of living trans-natural is a an addition to the narrative, something that I offered the team.

If I can’t share that experience in a way that helps other engage and trust their own experience, what was all that torture for?   I can’t teach anybody anything that they haven’t already experienced, but I can help them make the most out of their own experience, help them own it rather than trying to deny it or box it off.

This is the role of the prophet, the one who experiences the suffering, gains the visions and then offers them up as stories which help us understand how our experience is deeply and profoundly connected to the experience of others in the world.   The divine understanding comes in transcendent context, in tales from beyond which help us understand what we need to let go of to fully embrace our possibilities.

What I offer is just my experience, just the residue of what I have figured out in my travels.   I don’t have all the answers, don’t even have perfectly correct answers, but what I do have is the kind of questions which can take experience and start to turn it into education, taking torture and finding the enlightenment within.

If human life is a dance with the finite, laden with the demand to make choices and live with the results, then the choice of what to let go of and what to hold close may be the most essential choice of them all.   All those lovely hopes, the dear ideas of the way the universe should be, rarely serve us well when we come up against the reality of how things are, when we face what is.

There is no rebirth without moving beyond, no room for the new while we are clinging to the old.

Wounded healers have this calling, using their experience of torture and recovery to be present for those who are struggling with their own healing. They have had the experience of having their assumptions and desires for normalcy shattered, of having to find a new form, a new way to be well.

For me, committing to understanding my experience rather than just trying to wall it off has always been a commitment to service.  There are others who are struggling like I am, feeling tortured by how the world strives to make them invisible, how others want to break their spirit to get them to play along, to play small, to not challenge the comforting walls that make up normative expectation.

I struggle, but I struggle in the light.  So many others are still struggling in the darkness, trying to keep their own heart hidden and undercover, seeking only ways to fit into the torturous expectations of others rather than to become transcendent and claim their own personal relationship with creation.

Offering my stories, my perspective, my kōans is my attempt to glean meaning from my personal experience, as tough as it has been.   While few can enter my world, being safe to enter the depths, I can be safe for others, acknowledging the deep, scary things that they strive to keep hidden, even from themselves.  Denying them, though, doesn’t make them not there, not a potent part of their own experience, not a force on all their choices everyday.

Unwiring our own emotional buttons is the only way to become free, safe and wise.  The map to those pain points is in our experience, not just in our desires, especially our desires to be like everyone else, to be conventional, normative and regular.   Those desires for compliance have a cost far higher than the beautiful wild dreams we were born with.

Encouraging you to enter your own experience rather than staying away from it, engaging what is rather than struggling to substitute what you would rather have, what you believe “should be” is at the heart of my sharing, my service.

Awake, open and vulnerable is, in the end, the only way to grow past our own wounds, turning our scars from indicators of shame which need to be hidden into marks of healing which show our tender heart through our experience in the world, even the tortured experience of being beaten into invisibility.

Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.

How you use that experience is up to you.   Do you complain about it, about how it blocked your desires?   Do you use that experience to help you find a different way to get what you want?   Do you value that experience as a gift, as something to help you focus your desires and help others?

It’s your experience.  You get to choose.

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