Can there be enormous dignity on a burnt forest?

I wrote to Merl today, under the heading of “Confused why are my doctors ignoring me???” asked by Adilyn, and was sorting out the forest from the trees in my writing. I wrote, “I am asking for a clarification of boundaries, outside of them being an arbitrary invention of my mind, because as you can tell my forest is burnt and no trees is like no consciousness.” I have been searching out why I feel these burnt trees is no consciousness. These trees are my experience and my information. Then I experience my consciousness is not enough. It is like I am just identifying with the burnt trees, retreat into emptiness — and then more horror. Is there such a thing as a burnt consciousness, which feels like nothing true or valuable to believe in, and still have dignity? What is a new center of awareness, as this is difficult to observe directly or describe?

I think I understand what you are meaning. You feel like your consciousness is like that of a burnt forest desolate and empty. I just want to remind you that even after a forest is burnt or cut down there is still new growth that is fresher and greener then what was there before that. This might not be at the same level as what was there but it is still there. Just think of your consciousness as that new growth.

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Yes, Adilyn and I like your words “fresher and greener” and is like letting go of my negative, thoughts, words and actions. I also like how you say, “This might not be at the same level as what was there but it is still there. Just think of your consciousness as that new growth.” There is something about your words of my learning to not be defiant of the natural order, to be a part of it, and yield myself to it. Yielding does not feel natural to me and yet I realized from you it is part of accepting the way things are. This is just part of nature, very clear, and thank you.

Hey Syd,
For a start I’m not a great one for analogies. But I do agree with Adilyn’s response. I’d also like to add that forests take years, even decades to develop and mature. Trying to build a house out of saplings is a waste of time, the house will collapse. After a BI we have to, in many cases, start again. For some of us our BI’s are minimal, but for others they can be catastrophic. In my former employment I worked with individuals covering the whole realm of injuries. This has given me an understanding that, had I not worked in the field, I could be very self introspective. Sure, I’m not in a good way but there are people out there 1000times worse than I. So for me I see the burnt trees, but many are not burnt to the ground level, give it time and new shoots may burst forward. This process comes at the tree’s timing, not mine. Me, I wanted it all to happen yesterday (I want it right and I want it right bloody NOW!!!) and tried to force the point. Well, that didn’t work. My body has new limits and as much as I forced those limits, my body pushed back.
Look, for me things might not get any better than they are here, now, today and I know that, but I also know they could be a hell of a lot worse. I could have been stuck in a hospital bed the rest of my life. I gotta be thankful for the little bits of green in my forest.


This is a remarkable statement Merl, as you express, “I gotta be thankful for the little bits of green in my forest.” The “little bits of green” is the dignity I am searching for. It may not be enormous, yet it is just a place to begin. There seems to be light of awareness here, a consciousness that is touching this ground and to allow the green to fit into these circumstances. This writing from you and Adilyn is like recognizing how my judgement divides myself into judging and judge parts, which makes me unable to see the green planets.

Also, something is happening here by recognizing the green, something is happening before I fall into self-consciousness and alienation. It is like the burnt forest or my brain injury has “told” who I am not and now it is like recognizing the growth as a person here, recognizing the green that is here. Something is slowing down, possibly the ego, rather than trying to become a particular image or idea. This being with this ground is like slowing down and resting. This simply resting is allowing me to see the green.

This is rather boring, simply resting, which is telling me I have been addicted to the raging forest fire and the chaos it created. The fire is out or seems my ego activity is slowing down and learning to rest, and this flow seems to be learning to delight in simply resting and being one with the ground. This feels boring and yet I feel this new center does not need to my thinking to stimulate these artificial feelings. It feels like I do not need any more artificial feelings that needs to build up my self-image. This resting is like I no longer need to be concerned with doing and being whatever I believe will make me feel worthwhile.

A side note, in my recovery program of Alcoholic Anonymous of thirty years, I knew I was emotionally out of balance. I have even been told I was emotionally immature. Even during the meetings, my woundedness and sense of inner deficiency would always exploded out of me in these 12 step meetings. I even sustained my identity by feeling my inner lack and feeling something was missing inside. I got caught in my emotional reactions and beliefs about my deficiency, which created this forest fire and chaos. But now I do not feel the need to live in my story and live in its origins — the fire and chaos. For once I feel my emotions are becoming balanced. I feel this peace and here is this realization of support and stability, and it is like finding more acceptance.

Could it be otherwise, just finding a peace and acceptance to transform this experience into something worthwhile and valuable?

“It is a place to begin…” not a truer statement could be written. My thoughts can easily overwhelm me, especially when I allow them to run rampant and in the past they have. You speak of AA. I’ve been there too, many years ago. I did not like my own headspace, so I’d drown it out. I didn’t drink cos I liked it, I drunk to fog it out. People would tell me “…But tomorrow you sober up and reality is still there…” So I’d drink more tomorrow. I stopped drinking but went to drugs. All I’d done is swapped ‘the witch for the bitch’, I was still just fogging reality out. This was identified by others but not accepted by me. At some point I had to (and here’s that word again) accept some honest truths. As human’s it is easier to point out faults in others, it’s a hell of a lot harder to look at self and point out our own faults. But having that place to begin, that’s a start, from that point, there is only one direction to go and that’s up.

I used my negative experiences as a fallback position. At some point I decided that rather than using them as a negative to use them as a positive. In my youth I’d done some dumb things and somehow avoided the ultimate consequences (jail), I could continue on the same route or make a change. I decided to volunteer with a youth organisation, to give some young fellows a bit of direction not to be taking the godforsaken route I did. “Ahh don’t do that because I did and this is where it can lead…” There are a lot of services out there to help young people but most of them have workers that come from more a religious background as in “doing good” rather than from ‘personal experience’. I found that using my experiences to educate the youth was a positive rather than that constant negative focus I’d had before. This took my focus out of me and focused more on helping others. And for me, it worked. It helped me to accept where I’d been, what I’d done. This was my acceptance.
During my youthwork era was when I had a major medical episode. Some of my youthwork clients also had disabilities, some physical, some intellectual and some mental. After my recovery from surgeries I concentrated on assisting people with disabilities and this in turn lead to my employment within the disability sector. So in the end all those negatives had a massive positive outcome and this positive was not just for me but also for those people around me, my clients. And this resulted in the final acceptance I needed for my own sanity.

Look, it wasn’t an easy route, not at all, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. But by taking the focus away from me the end result assisted everyone. This was me fertilising my ‘burnt out forest’ and allowing it to bloom, not just for my advantage but also for the betterment of others. And although I’m not working, which I wish I was, I’m still doing the same thing today, using my experiences to assist others on this hellish route we are on.



I am pleased you can find your experience beneficial for others and even choosing to be effective and productive. This is what makes you a particularly effective leader because you know what it is like to feel insecure, alone, and to look to someone else for help. You appear to have acquired the necessary emotional equipment to be your own person and to use your experiences to benefit others. And thank you for being your own person, supporting others and allowing yourself to be supported.

Learning to accept and learning to surrender into my place in life, even in my recovery, has been extremely hard. In my recovery I always felt these every shifting tides of struggling higher and slipping lower, feeling inadequate and defective, unimportant and undesirable. Then the self-hatred and self-contempt, hopelessness and despair would just burn inside of me. The AA meetings would even create this “gap” between what I was and what I am not, between the inner-observer and my alcoholic mind. My alcoholic mind kept communicating there is nothing in the world I can identify with, nothing true or valuable I could believe in. I just felt this “gap” between the inner-observer and my addictive personality.

My human nature abhorred this gap or vacuum from within. God or what AA considers the Higher Power, became this dirty-rat and buck-hole, even is this enormous stumbling block. It felt like there was nothing to believe in, besides horror and uncertainty. Then when the serenity candle began to burn the story I had been telling myself no longer mattered. Serenity was communicating to leave the familiarity of my addictive mind, step into nothing, and walk off the edge of the world. This felt like my end and my death. This death was communicating there is no achievement and no success here. And I realized, from the AA program, it takes faith in a Higher Power to counteract this terror and the despair. However this point of nothingness, walking off the face of the earth, is what I have struggled with the most. I felt like ice melting into water.

The strange part, for me, is this ice dissolves into this inner Essence and it takes faith. This faith is empty and yet full of potentiality. This faith is rather hard to describe, like an inner Essence and yet also can create a sensation of being a natural agnostic and atheists. Once again I felt this “gap” between the observer and my alcoholic mind, a vacuum. This is when my addiction really kicked in and yet I had enough recovery I knew this reactive force. Then the emptiness becomes a place to begin and is faith. It is at this point powerlessness in the emptiness became the heart of my faith because the addiction was not overpowering me.

I now feel a greater acceptance in my powerlessness. This powerlessness is just a place to begin and is real sobriety, like crisp morning. For some reason, beyond me, my powerlessness is bringing good out of evil, hope from hopelessness, meaning from absurdity, and saving what appeared to be lost. Mysteriously, this filtering raw material through the unconscious and into powerlessness is now the light of awareness. Also I am not absolutely sure you can relate to my words Merl, yet I also believe you can because realizing our own value without reference to anyone is probably the hardest thing we can do. It appears precisely this place where you appear to be finding security and acceptance within yourself.