We may discover we’ve been snared in a deadly trap of deceit and deception. Been blindsided by flattery or the heat of a lust we thought was long lasting love. We may find out that what we thought was real has been a mirage, shimmering in a dust storm of lies. We may acknowledge that we have cruised along on autopilot. Allowed entry to our life the very thing that liquefies our viscera, congeals the blood in our veins, rubs against our values. There are days when this world seems crazy, chaotic and unspeakably cruel. When we feel utterly alone. Terribly afraid. Rainer Maria Rilke expresses the sharp shards of broken glass despair so eloquently in The First Duino Elegy:
“And so I force myself, swallow and hold back
the surging call of my dark sobbing.
Oh, to whom can we turn for help?
Not angels, not humans;
and even the knowing animals are aware that we feel
little secure and at home in our interpreted world.”
There are days when the bruises and scrapes of life sting and ache so much it takes an enormous act of will to come back into the quiet calm of our center. To disengage from a “game” that requires so much energy and defensiveness. To change our interpretation of what happens in our life. To cease self-harming with thoughts that and flutter inside our aching heads, twist and turn like rusty knives inside our bleeding hearts. It takes a shift in focus, realignment in consciousness to begin to believe, behave, differently.
This may mean changing the way we perceive the past. Seeing the behaviour of those who have hurt us as coming from a wellspring of pain. Acknowledging this without smug self-righteous judgment flung out like a cruel harpoon, but with heartfelt compassion for the part we have agreed to play. This may mean searching for fragments of gold in the sinking dross of old conditioning or circumstances. This may mean choosing to be grateful for the experience . There is a sparkling jewel that glistens on the necklace of poetry that is William Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “Let us not burden our remembrances with a heaviness that’s gone.” Many of us carry for years the ashes of our sorrow in the heavy urn of regret. Those of us who have walked away from relationships with family members or lovers that were pickled in pain and negativity, left siblings or partners who are manacled by their own addictions. We may carry in our hearts survivor’s guilt, our days blighted by a sadness which is not ours to carry. Neale Donald Walshe says “Move forward with no second guessing, no guilt trips and no hesitation.”
Recreating a new life is a soul craft that requires patience, skill and compassion. Moving forward is an act of will. So is holding on. There is a Tibetan saying which goes something like “everything rests on the tip of motivation.” When we talk about compassion and loving kindness, we will also require motivation to change the energetic field in which we live. To have the courage to be re-born, over and over again. Mark Nepo on Book of Awakening writes so beautifully, “Repetition is not failure. Ask the waves, ask the leaves and ask the wind.”
We meet the experiences, the inner learning, just when we need it. What we experience may come in cycles, so we can return again and again if we need to, and do it all at our own pace. I have a wise friend who describes this as doing the cha-cha. We take one step forward, one step back in time to the music. Until we decide to change the steps of the dance.
“We fall down as many times as we need to, to learn how to fall and get up. We fall in love as many times as we need to, to learn how to hold and be held. We misunderstand the many voices of truth as many times as we need to, to truly hear the choir of diversity that surrounds us. We suffer our pain as often as is necessary for us to learn how to break and how to heal. No one really likes this, of course, but we deal with our dislike in the same way, again and again, until we learn what we need to know about the humility of acceptance,” says Nepo.
So today, let us be grateful to the wrecking balls that smash through the structures that no longer serve us. Let us acknowledge the gifts that lie in the rubble of our lives and keep our steps light when we dance the cha-cha. Let us hold on to ourselves.
Hold On – Angus and Julia Stone