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My shadow’s
shedding skin and
I’ve been picking
Scabs again.
I’m down
Digging through
My old muscles
Looking for a clue.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in.
I wanna feel the changes coming down.
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in

My shadow.
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow’s shedding skin
I’ve been picking
My scabs again.

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been.
I’ve been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I’ve endured within

My shadow
Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to.
Forty-six and two ahead of me.

I choose to live and to
Grow, take and give and to
Move, learn and love and to
Cry, kill and die and to
Be paranoid and to
Lie, hate and fear and to
Do what it takes to move through.

I choose to live and to
Lie, kill and give and to
Die, learn and love and to
Do what it takes to step through.

See my shadow changing,
Stretching up and over me.
Soften this old armor.
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow,
Coming out the other side.
Step into the shadow.
Forty six and two are just ahead of me.

Lyrics (c) 1997 Tool

Sure.  That’s a lot to take in, particularly if it is not at all familiar to you.  I thought about including a link to an audio file of the track, but reconsidered over 1) copyright concerns and 2) scaring unfamiliar listeners/readers away.  Anyway, this here is really about the lyrical content more than the music on this one, even though this endures as one of my more preferred Tool songs.

The title and general subject matter?  Well, Tool has rarely/never been obvious or clear about song meanings; it is part of their style.  BUT…if you really want an inkling as to possible subtext and meaning, you can check the Wiki article here.

For the past number of months, I have spent a great deal of time reading, thinking and trying to get to the bottom of some kind of self-understanding.  It has been a bit of a chaotic year thus far, and a lot of things (memories, emotions, perspectives, experiences, etc.) have been surfaced and brought to bear, intentionally or otherwise by stream of consciousness-type exploration.  It has certainly been enlightening, but it has also been depressing, confusing and more than a little uncomfortable.  In some ways, it feels like I am learning who I am for the first time.  I think I have at least figured out the “shadow” part.  And it ain’t good.

In the truest sense, I have been “picking scabs” of long ago hurts, “digging through” things that I believe were long buried and irrelevant.  I have had days (weeks?) of “wallowing in my own chaotic, insecure delusions” about who I am, who I thought I was, and who I thought I was supposed to be (musical crossover-connection to Alice In Chains’ song “Down In A Hole” from the album Dirt).  I have been “contemplat(ing) what I’ve been clinging to” all this time.  Of course, I’m not going to give you any distinct details, scandalous or otherwise, because it is more about the process, because…

Change is coming.  But change is hard, and change is slow.  And, in some way, I know this isn’t (nor ever could be) a “once and done” process.

Yet, I DO want “to feel the change consume me, feel the outside turning in, I wanna feel the metamorphosis and cleansing I’ve endured within” by using this time doing this work (and make no mistake, it IS work).  I WANT my shadow to change, I want the old “armor” to soften, in hopes that I CAN “clear the way” and be able to let some things go while holding onto what matters most.

The struggle is, now that I am aware of this, now that I’ve dug through, what do I do about it?  I can’t change the past.  I need to keep this new revelation close, stay aware of how it impacts my future interactions.

I have been helped and guided along the way by conversations with both a pastoral counselor and a spiritual director.

I have also found a great deal of insight from the following books:

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer
Wounded Healer, by Henri Nouwen
A Living Reminder, by Henri Nouwen
Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
Daily Meditations, Richard Rohr’s blog posts, here (ESPECIALLY the “Embracing the Shadow” series that began Sunday, July 11, 2016)  This, indeed, gives me hope.