Connection: Next Steps

A talk by Tim Jackins at the West Coast North America Pre-World Conference, January 2013

Okay, lean over and put your cheek against the person next to you. We can’t easily remember that we are no longer alone, and we’ve learned how to function independently enough that we pretend it doesn’t matter. We’ve had to pretend it doesn’t matter, and it matters a lot.

When we get here, we like that we’re together, and when I tell you to put your cheek against someone else, you will. But can you remember to do it on your own? Would it have the same effect if you did it without my telling you, and your not having to be responsible for it? We will feel alone when we go home, more than here, unless we do something, unless we actively think about not letting that material1 get its grip on us again.

We like coming here and being with each other. It contradicts the aloneness, but not fully, not quite. We’re not daring enough to use it to contradict that material and discharge on it. Instead we use it to not feel so bad about that aloneness material, to not feel so blatantly alone. We use it to salve and smooth out the distress rather than as a contradiction to discharge it.

So we come, we love this, and we can remember it a little while, but we haven’t done the work on the distress. It’s still there, and we run into it again rather quickly. You put your cheek against that person’s, and it startles you a little. But then you tighten up. You don’t let it penetrate too far. You don’t want to feel too much of that person. You don’t want to count on his or her actually being there. You learned not to do that. You learned how dangerous it was to think there was another mind that would keep you in mind, because there never was. But now there might be.

All of us want to be able to connect with anybody we’ve had contact with here. We know there’s a chance to do it, and yet we can’t move to do it. It’s really interesting. We can’t quite dare to face how badly hurt we got from being alone. It’s hard to go back and look at the hurts that came down so solidly.

They left chronic material that we haven’t been able to challenge well. We use each other as far as we can figure out, and still you know you go home feeling alone. You know how separate your mind operates and how you don’t count on anyone.

I notice that I don’t feel like I can count on anybody ever coming back. I have a tendency to run my life on that basis. I know better. I fight for contact, I reach for people, I do all these things, but down in there where things fell in on me, I don’t count on anybody ever coming back—period, at all. That’s the way the distress sits in my mind. I’ve figured out how to expand my life from that narrow basis as far as I can, as far as I can, as far as I can, but it’s still there. There’s still this struggle to take on,2 because I haven’t been able to discharge that separation material.

And you don’t look much better than me. Different maybe, but not better, because we were all forced off alone. We do all of these wonderful things in spite of it, we fight for things in spite of it, and yet it’s been very hard to challenge that material.

When someone says, “Oh, it’s really nice to see you,” we smile and nod. When the people we care about most say, “I love you,” we say, “I love you, too.” Nothing goes in very far. My wife and a granddaughter play with this: “I love you.” “I love you more.” “I love you twice as much.” “I love you three times as much.” “I love you infinity times as much.” It just goes on and on. “Twice infinity.” They’re playing with this issue. They don’t discharge the distress, but they stay there and engage each other on it. We don’t even play with the issue.

We’re afraid to look. We’re afraid to stay there and look and watch someone’s eyes to see if they are really alive or if they’ve made their effort and then froze, if they’ve gone as far as they can and can’t go any farther and there’s nobody there to try to take the next step with. We have to challenge that.

A long time ago I put a picture of a newborn baby on the cover of Present Time. The baby was just looking to see if anyone was there. We don’t do that anymore. We have the same questions and the same doubts; we just gave up. Now it’s time to change our mind. We have to change our mind and challenge that distress.

We have a long way to go together, and we’re just beginning to figure out what together means. We’ve run along parallel paths, not quite within reach of each other. We’re reassured to look sideways and see people going along, too, but it isn’t all that humans are capable of. It’s very important that we challenge our earliest hurts, so we don’t accept separation from each other.

How do we pursue this issue? How much discomfort are you willing to face with how many people? How much can you look and force your mind open to actually entertain the possibility that there’s somebody over there, stuck in the same way you’re stuck, but trying hard to find the way back, just like you are? Do you dare think that’s true? You know it’s true, but do you dare think it’s true at the moment you are challenging that material?

This is that place where you have to make up your mind, because you know what’s true and yet distress makes it seem impossible. It’s a place where you may have to go outside of proof and decide it’s true: The world is this way because it’s the way I want it to be. I decide it. I want someone behind those eyes reaching back toward me. To see if it’s true, I have to test it.

There’s no other test possible. Nothing else works except each of us trying it to see if the other can try to reach back, too. It’s really uncomfortable. It can restimulate all the hurts from things we missed and long for. But if we are to pick up some speed and momentum in what we’re doing and reach people, we cannot be this separate. We are admired for how close we are, and we have made a lot of progress, but we know there is more.

So, let’s have a mini-session. I want you to try to find that other person, to stay there and look at him or her and open your mind as far as you can, be as hopeful in looking for that person as you possibly can be. (Mini-session)

What will improve the odds that we can challenge this material and not just go back to functioning well and alone? How do we keep from slipping away from it in practice? How do we keep trying to use at least a part of our sessions to look a little farther, to find a little more of each other? What will make a difference there?

It will take deciding to do this. That will take us a certain distance, and it will be hard and feel odd. I think we have to decide that there’s enough correctness in this picture I paint, for it to be useful to follow and see where it takes us. We have to make up our minds about that, because we won’t feel like doing it.

It feels like sticking our neck out too far, as if we were still vulnerable. We feel just as vulnerable as when we didn’t have all this understanding and resource. But now we’re not that vulnerable. We can feel all the same things, but it’s very different. It’s fine that we feel all the feelings from back then, because now we can go ahead and think about them, discharge on them, and use them to drive us toward each other. We can make up our mind that we intend to get other people in our lives, and we can make each other very uncomfortable.

We have to feel vulnerable, not wooden, in the effort. It isn’t seeing how we can stare down the other person. We can be pulled in that direction, so we don’t have to feel things.

Sometimes I try to show my wish to get out of this material. Whether or not my Co-Counselor can respond isn’t crucial. I care deeply about their responding, but for that moment I don’t care. What I care about is how far out of that numbness I can get myself.

This can feel like seeing how vulnerable you can allow yourself to be, but it’s not. There’s nothing vulnerable about caring openly with your whole heart. That does not make you vulnerable. It makes you liable to face a lot of distresses you haven’t had the resource to face before, and that feels dangerous, but it’s not anymore. It is not dangerous now; it’s just disorienting.


1 “Material” means distress.
2 “Take on” means confront.


Last modified: 2017-04-06 16:01:36-07