It was the early years of puberty when I first remember experiencing moments of self-aware consciousness. I would be surrounded by my pre-teen cosmetics, looking in the mirror, attempting to turn myself into a model from Seventeen, when suddenly my thoughts would stop and it would just be me, vulnerable, freckle-faced, cone-headed, big eared, 12 year old Jenny, staring back at me.
My stories of being a Barbizon model or Indiana Jones or Peter pan were all instantly gone, and I was alone with myself. It was terrifying. I became extremely "self conscious", completely convinced that the Jenny I was seeing was entirely inadequate for the world in which I lived. I had to live in stories in order to pretend I was some how capable of "making it".
I look back now, after nearly 20 years of extremely challenging experiences that catapulted me (as they do) into higher awareness and self exploration, and I'm baffled by the sense of dread that overcame me when I was in consciousness with my selves (the self that saw me, and the self that was aware of seeing me, and the self that was extremely offended that I had to be exposed to seeing me). Not baffled because I don't remember the feeling, but baffled because I now understand that somehow that became my centerpoint of self understanding: total dread.
Our first experiences of self-consciousness can be terrifying because we're suddenly exposed to the stories we are forcing ourselves to live up to; and we're suddenly awake on the surface level to all the fears that we have about our inadequacies. We're trying to be something we aren't, because we're convinced that who we really are is a fraud, here by accident, and if you can just pretend long enough that you're as good as everyone else, maybe you'll be invited into the tribe and people will take care of you when you're sick or old or dying.
If we're willing to continue to re-visit our own self-awareness; if we're willing to see those fears and understand them and work through them; if we're willing to burn in our humiliation to the point where burning is just kinda something we all do and isn't it funny and look how we all burn the same and boy do I feel closer to you now that I know we're all burned up... then the comfort and joy we sought in our stories will become our reality.
Now when I have consciousness of my self, I see all those things I love and aspired to be. I am Harry Potter and Britney Spears and Iron man. I am Sailor Moon and Samwise Gamgee and Reese Witherspoon. Through the years of self-discovery I can see now that everything and every story that cherish and enjoy is an integral part of what makes me Jenny in this human experience, and I love every bit of it.
My lesson today from A Course in Miracles is Lesson 33: There is another way of looking at the world.
I'm aware that one part of me sees the world as an exhausted, adrenaline addicted, neurotic, materialistic, and unconsciously humming machine, where anyone who needs help is an excessive expense, a burden, a hinderance on the progression of society.
I'm also aware that part of me sees the potential for a world where there is plenty and time and space for joy, comfort, and healing. I see a world where everyone is so well taken care of, that when someone is ill or needs help, everyone else has so much and is so contented, that they all have plenty of time and resources to attend to this person who needs help. Where "here, have this, I don't need it anymore and it's taking up space anyway, so you'd actually be doing me a favor by taking it" is the norm, where resources and energy flow so efficiently that everyone starts to believe very quickly that their needs will be met when they arise. And then, every self-conscious person will look in the mirror and know that they are not only adequate, but that they are an integral, joyful, meaningful, and purposeful part of the human tribe.
And also maybe Superman.