That would, of course, refer to the invisible skin surrounding my emotional body, the one that presented obstacle after obstacle to ever feeling just right.
I think the process began in earnest six years ago, when I left my chosen profession of journalism after 25 years in the business. In a metaphoric sense, I was leaving the sidelines to play on the field. Sure, there was a certain level of rough and tumble in the news game. Despite my pretense of unbiased professionalism, it got nasty sometimes. At various times, I was threatened with jail time for protecting sources (ironically, the sources were at the jail), stared down by militant Hispanic geriatrics upset with a story of mine, berated by angry county commissioners for catching them with their hands in the till, and almost arrested for sneaking into a hospital to get a story after a plane crash. And I took pleasure occasionally in ruining someone else's reputation.
But mostly, being in journalism was an excuse not to get engaged. I did not get involved with causes. I assiduously remained a political independent, never declaring a party affiliation. (Now, for various other reasons related to Busting Loose, I will still never declare a party affiliation. In fact, I may have cast my last vote. But that's another column.) I declined to join any groups that wanted to take a stand on anything. It was easier to observe and report, then to actually have to do something, and engage in the hologram.
In some respects, nothing has changed. I still am not a big joiner. (So for all my friends on Facebook, you can stop asking.) But on a personal level, I feel I am more connected to my expanded self than ever. I now value my own opinions to the point where I'll will give them, whether requested or not. I still get that they don't really mean anything, but it's fun to express myself. I am no longer afraid of offending any of my other aspects. In fact, I feel this pent up energy sometimes to reach out and offend other aspects just for kicks. Because it's fun and it's not real anyway.
If I do support a cause or charity, I feel as if it's much more fun and the effort emanates directly from my heart, not my head. I was explaining to a friend recently that I helped pull off a benefit concert for Haiti in February, not because I felt anything for the perceived suffering of the people in Haiti --they're not real anyway -- but because I thought it would be exciting to produce the concert. Even though I felt a little weird expressing that to someone who is not a Busting Loose player, and even though it appeared she was not buying it, I was okay with it. That's a big step for me.
During that same conversation, another player, a filmmaker, expressed the need to create movies that had a positive message and helped people. No, I don't do that, I said. I want to tell good stories through movies. If they happen to entertain, and god forbid, help someone, great. But helping "others" is not my intent.
I attribute a good part of this shift in my consciousness to the Busting Loose practice of embracing discomfort. Being comfortable in my skin is being comfortable with discomfort. It can be about something barely noticeable, or something I've imbued with great importance. It's why I can now grow facial hair that makes me look older -- think Col. Sanders here -- because I have no compulsion any more to create the illusion of appearing younger and sexier simply to attract a mate. It's why I also no longer waste energy chasing after the illusion of attractive women simply to relieve my perceived loneliness. It's why I can wear the same pair of black jeans from Thrift Town 27 days in a row without worrying about the illusion of fashion, or what my friends think of my wardrobe deficiencies.
But it's not about accepting "myself" on a Phase 1 level as it is about remembering who I really am, the abundant being residing in consciousness. I theorize that the longer I am immersed in Phase 2, the illusion of gray hair will disappear, my prostate will shrink, my gut will disappear and super abs will magically appear. I can jump into a "cause," work my ass off, and then leave when it's not fun any more, because I know it does not define who I am and the only thing I am obligated to is following my path.
Now some readers might say, well, for chrissake, you're 53 years old. It's about damned time you were comfortable with yourself. I have no defense for that one. All I can say is that this is a process, my unique process, and it took exactly this long, because it had to.
Ultimately, as boundaries dissolve in consciousness, my "skin" will disappear, along with the notion of a body. I can only hope this happens before I need liposuction.