"Confession" sounds so intriguing, so sexy! But hearing other people talk about their faults can be very dull indeed. You have been warned.
I decided recently to undertake a spiritual discipline. I am trying to be really deeply honest with myself, in an ongoing, unrelenting way.
I find it is like dieting. It is really, deeply hard to do, and it takes a long time to start seeing any benefit.
But now I am. Just the beginnings...
I am an ego-driven do-gooder. Much of the good I do is not so much to serve pilgrims or St. James or God or good. I do good because it makes me look nice, and because it makes me feel good, and it costs me so little in real terms. Pilgrims ask for little. They occupy us for a few hours, and they leave the next day. I do this because it keeps me busy. It is respectable. It makes me feel unique and honorable and righteous. The benefits for others are, honestly, secondary to my ego. This is my hospitalera mask, my Camino Expert disguise. I think this person must be a great bore.
My Writer Mask: I write. I wear a Writer mask crafted over decades, and it makes me feel competent and professional and superior. It also drives me to write even when I am not able or willing to. It makes me write stories and articles and blogs that are themselves self-serving ego exercises. This mask slots together with the Camino Expert to send me off to obscure camino paths, where I wander up and down mountainsides and bust my gut writing trail guides that very few pilgs will ever care to use. This, too, is tiresome. It makes me feel adventuresome and heroic, like a pioneer. But I am fooling myself. I never go too far from home. At the end of the day I always find a good meal and a decent bed.
I am a daughter and a mother and a wife, a neighbor, a student and a friend. I am not very good at most of these things. I do not always take good care of my family and friends. I do not stay in touch. The few close friends I have live many miles away. Recently, several people from this area have made friendly overtures to me -- they want to include me in their circles. They want to befriend me. I find this exhilarating and amazing somehow. I do not answer them right away. I stand apart and feel afraid. I delay. I am not unfriendly, but some part of me does not want to be a day-to-day friend.
I say I am, fundamentally, a hermit. I think this may be true. I have always been introvert, stand-offish. When I am alone I do not play music or watch movies or read many books, not very often. I haul wood. I walk the dogs, I check up on FaceBook. Sometimes I take myself to a museum. I don´t feel bad. I do not think I am depressed, or otherwise ill.
But I do not want other people to be too close to me. Not for any length of time.
I think Patrick is much the same way. And we chose to live out in the middle of this severe nothing because it suits us. The outer landscape reflects the inner.
But maybe Hermit is just a handy disguise, too. Because another part of me loves people, and is full of compassion for the searching and suffering that goes on all around me. This is a neglected part of me, the healer and artist, the confessor and the counselor. They are for real. They are probably my best parts, and I do not use them so often.
There´s still a lot of work to be done.
I do not intend to stop living here, or to stop living. I intend to keep peeling off the layers I have built around me, to find just what is hiding here, under all these disguises. I am very fortunate to have the time, silence, and resources to do this kind of mental scrub.
I am lucky, blessed, and very grateful. That´s a good starting point.