Today, as yesterday, I am struggling.
Well… there’s no point only writing about what works, is there? The value is only there if we can openly discuss what doesn’t work, too. Isn’t it?
I think so.
So today, I am struggling.
As I did yesterday.
For personal reasons that I have gone into before and do not wish to go into again, I feel despondent. I am sitting on the edge of my bed, my baby climbing small-gorilla-like around his cot making happy noises, and I am torn between two courses of action: curl up on my bed in a foetal position, close my eyes and hope it all goes away, or try to find a way out of this quagmire.
Hiding is no longer an option – it feels too self-indulgent – so I turn to the books in my ‘to be read’ mountain, and pick out When Things Fall Apart: heart advice for difficult times by Pema Chodron. It is a book I have already started: the obligatory used envelope marks the spot I got to, and I pick it up and start again.
I haven’t got far before I realise that the fog is already lifting. This Buddhist nun’s words are resonating deeply and I have already marked three or four paragraphs worthy of coming back to and meditating on.
But it is these words that struck me most deeply:
Basically, disappointment, embarrassment, and all these places where we just cannot feel good are a sort of death. We’ve just lost our ground completely; we are unable to hold it together and feel that we’re on top of things. Rather than realizing that it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.
Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment. It’s actually a sign of health that, when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.
I have work to do. And no one can do it but me. This is a larval time, a chrysalis is forming, and I am being called to sit quietly inside it and face it. It hurts because it is supposed to. The pain is a trigger to action.
And in the meantime, I face a paradox. Examining this despondency, it is a lethargy brought on by not feeling loved or, more specifically, loveable. This feeling has been ever there, but more recently emphasised by a set of events and circumstances that are now longstanding and, I fear, here to stay. So it is a feeling, a sadness, I must somehow accept, assimilate, own, allow to become a part of my make-up, my life, my past.
Because as I found my computer to start writing this, a message appeared from an old friend. A message, essentially, of love. And she, in turn, was commenting on the massive outpouring of love I received this weekend on the occasion of my birthday, all organised without my knowledge, and all for me. Unloveable me.
The spiritual journey involves going beyond hope and fear, stepping into unknown territory, continually moving forward. The most important aspect of being on the spiritual path may be to just keep moving.
Don’t curl up on that bed.
Examine the evidence.
Take a fresh perspective…
…through loss, in spite of loss, I have gained.
We all of us have a story, and our story changes with each passing day. Don’t be distracted by the story. Instead, take a good look at the truth. And:
“Just keep moving.“