Monday, November 19, 2012

Dance with me in the GASLIGHT

Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman in GASLIGHT
In a morning conversation about the new film version of ANNA KARENINA, what I'd seen and heard about the costuming, segueing to the Met and a cousin who has worked on its costumes, I thought of  (spoiler alert) how costumes contribute to the unfolding mystery in GASLIGHT.  Even as I spoke the title, I had a feeling the movie had popped up to inform me about something else.  Bless those nearly unmappable synaptic leaps that have always carried me.

If you don't know GASLIGHT, you may want to leave now, since pivotal matters may be revealed as I figure out this lesson.  I think what I am being directed toward is the example of how we wake up to the knowledge that we've been looking in the wrong place for what treasure we seek.

Borrowing parallels from the movie's story line, I reflect on times and circumstances when it felt as though so much had been lost, that what was known to be of value somehow vanished, was embezzled or was left behind through carelessness or haste.  I think, too, of involvements in which truth and illusion were stirred into a murky mess, of placing trust in those who could not be trusted, not from an intention to do harm but because steady was an impossible expectation, boundaries too easily erased, compulsions too strong to be held in check by promise or optimism.  Then there is the fact that we are able to confuse ourselves with no outside help, by listening to the fearful inner voices which dredge up old missteps, perhaps in an effort to keep us in what it, the mind, feels is a safer place.  When we attend to its whispers and urgings, we cannot hear the higher and wiser interpretation of events that does not see everything as a tsunami warning flag.

As for the costumes, they may have their own message about disguise or self-delusion, about wishing to be seen as other than I was, lacking belief in the ability to be sufficient in a state of authenticity.  So many years spent wishing to pass for normal, whatever that may be, as though it were (a) an achievable goal and (b) would somehow allow a respite from the chronic, distancing and fatal-seeming sense of otherness for which I had no cure.

I've received comments from people who have known me over some years and wish to save me from my (less harsh than it used to be) self-criticism.  The only way out is through.  I see it as growth to recognize this as a pattern, acknowledge it as perhaps my most determined demon and not sink under its convincing but false rhetoric.  At the imagined birthday party, I will no longer settle for the smallest piece of cake with the fewest frosting roses, or take none at all.  Everything is a process.

The jewels are mostly hidden in plain sight, not layered over but shining so boldly they are mistaken for fakes.  The truth of it is, our lights are hard to hide.  They seep out around the edges, send their rays through holes in the curtain and only fool those who do not trouble themselves to look closely.  We are, though we may forget it, the shaken can of soft drink whose pull-tab is not going to hold for much longer.  That fizzing sound is us escaping, from our own limiting beliefs, from old lessons, from containers much too small.



Anonymous said...

Funny, that is the second reference to Gaslight I've had.

There is a term, "gaslighting", used as way for a con artist to get at someone...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - I thought I invented the term "gaslighting," having been in situations where the other would have me believe I was losing it. Hmmm. Not playing nice, by any definition. xo