June 21, 2012

Emotional Singularity - Here There Be Peace


I’ll admit, for as much as I love the noise and excitement of being among people, I’m also just as happy to sit back and watch the ebb and flow of others’ lives.  Something I’ve noticed more of recently is the constant chase for fulfillment in the arms or someone or something else.  Happiness is not at the bottom of a Starbucks cup, a dating site profile, a smaller pair of pants, a boob job, or an entourage fawning over your every move.  Wanna know why?  Because absolutely none of those various adornments are there when you’re utterly alone with your own thoughts.  Science being unable to agree on the location of the essence of humanity, the best I can say is Happiness is somewhere behind your bellybutton in that fleshy sack we all carry around every day.

A person can chase a new lover, or feel pride in denying themselves a once-favorite snack on their journey to a healthier body.  Nothing about these activities is inherently wrong.  But, the motivations behind them and the expected emotions can certainly be harmful should they end up being more like a porcupine in a balloon factory.  If you put your faith that you can be happy on an external source, you’re going to be disappointed.  The only variable is how long it takes.   

Trust me guys, I had some crippling depression in college and suffered from what I called “If Only” syndrome. If only I had a TV, I could have something to do when I’m hibernating in my room all night.  If only I had a car, I’d be happy because I could take a friend to the movies.  If only he would see how much I love him, it would change his mind and we'd be together.  If only I went to school closer to home so I could see my high school friends on the weekends.  Wanna know what that got me?  It got me on the list of  two alumni associations begging for donations instead of one, and a whole lot of regrets about how great college could have been.  Short version?  Bupkis.  That’s what looking for external happiness got me.  It’s delusional to think otherwise, but sometimes it’s a lesson you have to learn by doing.  I get that.  But, when you’ve chased down your target and discovered it to be a tin god, look inward for the answer.  Chances are, you’re going to find more paper tiger in the wilds.

How, you ask?  Your own vehicle is personal, and it’s not something anyone else can know.  But, I do want to share with you something that felt like hitting one of Wile E. Coyote’s painted walls when I found it.  Out of nowhere, came this poem that screamed “This is what you’ve been searching for!  This is what you want from yourself and those close to you.  Sit down, shut up, keep still, and open your mind to it.  This is important.”.  The poem is by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and is titled The Invitation.  I first heard this at a friend’s wedding, as the ceremony approached their sharing their vows to each other.  As much as I tried to choke it back, this opened a carefully constructed dam of emotions for me.  I could finally find the words for what needed to be important to me, and in those I desire to share my life with.  

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.
It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Simply put, this is the singularity.  This is the peace needed to truly be comfortable in your own skin.  Can you look in the mirror and see both the flaws and how amazing you are?  Just you.  It isn’t you and a significant other.  It isn’t you 20 lbs lighter.  It isn’t you if you could just find a job where you feel fulfilled.  When the lights go out, and the animals are all asleep, it’s who you are in that stillness.  Everything else is temporary.  

If embracing this and its challenge to live a life full of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness, I’d be comfortable saying that this is enlightenment to the Western mind.  However, Nirvana is not a place.  You can’t get there from here.  It’s a state of being, one that takes work to achieve, and maintenance to hold.  The good news is, you don’t need a guide.  It starts in that place behind your bellybutton, and ends in an ah-ha moment.  If you’re willing, you are able.

If you are interested in reading the book that came from the above prose-poem, you can find a copy of it on Amazon. Happily, it's available as a physical book as well as for your e-reader.

3 comments:

  1. Wow...that was deep!

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  2. I might still laugh at dick jokes, but that and pondering my own navel aren't mutually exclusive. Thank ya kindly.

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  3. So very well articulated, I've felt this way my entire life. Now I have something to call when it runs too far out into the backyard... Thank you.

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