Delighted to welcome essayist, novelist, lyricist, and poetess, Louise Moulin, with her personal essay, Skin Shedding.
When we are born we do not know ourselves. We discover what we are made of on the road. We endure ordeals and roll in blissful fields in a spiritual process of culmination and release, of construction and deconstruction, of metamorphosis like the butterfly, and rebirth like the Sphinx.
We evolve into better versions, we grow up, or we drag the reptilian skins of our old Selves around like demons sticking out of our auras. Every room we enter, every conversation we have, every hand we shake, every mouth we kiss, there is the vibe of the phantom.
These skins of the past slow us down like the drag created by parachutes on the back of racing cars. Some slip away naturally and are turned to dust yet the sticky invisible skins that won’t budge have to be identified and defied, these tacky sheaths must be wiggled out of, chewed off and spat out.
“To grow up means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs—anybody can have that—I mean in truth.” Angelou
The weight of my erroneous skins had become heavy. I actually felt the weight of them pressing me into the earth. There came a point where I went, I can do better than this. I am better than this.
My internal monologue was draining. My tongue chaffed from licking my wounds of past betrayals. I wanted to stop picking off the scabs. I couldn’t believe anymore in the petty sagas and righteous indignities. I couldn’t care less about the sorrow. I lost interest. I was done. Time to move on. Time to grow up.
This urge to purge came upon me like zephrs, a swarm of locusts, a maelstrom pushing me forward to transform, transmute and glory of glories, transcend.
Here are six actions I undertook to shed the shitty skins.
Let Go Of The Outmoded
You sense the evolve nudge like a distortion in the atmosphere, like the oncoming of spring winds. Change is afoot. The sands are shifting. And you want it; this new way of being. It is metaphysical and practical, this evolutionary yearning, like the impulse of a fern frond unfurling.
So I encourage the spirit by clearing out my house. Lighten the load, let go of the old to make way for the new. I discard pretty objects that aren’t useful or relevant. I box up for charity the victorianesque velvet jacket that is cute but too tight, the broken junk jewellery and the too-heavy-to-hang antique mirror with the peeling face.
I go systematically and brutally from cupboard to drawer, touching chipped china, down at the heel boots, weighing the light and dark of each object – does this item make me feel good about myself or does it represent a shoddiness I am rejecting in favour of the shine of my best Self?
Shift The Energy
Instead of peeling the vegetables at the sink I take them out to the back yard in the sun. Instead of writing at my desk I write on the back step. Instead of meeting in the usual café I meet at the bird aviary. I shift my bed so awaking is from a unique perspective. I avoid books, films, and music I usually choose and actively choose the unknown. I wear skirts instead of jeans. I cut my hair.
This is done without telling them. Without fuss and based purely on whether I feel appreciated or not in this pocket of time. I leave them alone. I don’t mess with them or endeavour to fix. I just hop on the bus and drive off. Maybe the people will be there for the next round, and that’s okay, but for the purposes of evolution, of intentional maturity, I mentally set them aside. Forgiveness is in here too. I accept everything as it is. But the past is gone. I draw a line in the sand of a new boundary, and a new frontier.
This is my life. I will do as I please. I resist the advice of people who do not have to live the consequences. I harden up the boundaries and for the duration of the purge I restrict other’s access to me, my time. I imagine my energy in a barrel and plug up all the leaks and redirect the energy back to myself. This is the time for not doing my duties for others and for redefining what those duties are. My duty is to my Self. I can and will, do what I feel is best for me.
Top Three Needs
What do I need? Beyond food and shelter what do I need to feed my best Self. I make a clear distinction between wants and needs for the wants frequently don’t satisfy the soul but the needs when quenched yield gold. I collect up magazines and spend an evening cutting out anything that appeals.
Pictures of mushrooms cooked in cream and wind-mills on grassy slopes and salmon swimming and dense forests and quaint Moroccan streets and clear lagoons. I cut out words, like, show-time, and meaning. I let the cuttings rest for a few days laying there on the kitchen table until the specifics of my soul’s yearning are clear.
The cuttings are symbolic. I make tiny pivotal differentiations shuffling the symbols, taking my time, drifting and musing until I have my Top Three Needs which I write in block letters: Artistic Expression, Superior Health and Financial Independence, and pin with the pictures on my notice board. Now I have a navigator. A target for my energy and a guide light for decision making.
Then I pay attention to the fears which arise and reply, hogwash. Those hovering black clouds of false fears will only rain on my parade.
Thank you, Louise.
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Louise Moulin lives in the southern heart land of New Zealand, near the ocean. Her beautiful novel Saltskin is available from Random House. She also writes essays, lyrics to music, poems, scripts, and short fiction and is currently working on a country noir novel. Random House, Otago Daily Times.
Connect with Louise on Twitter: @authormoulin