…”I recall, I really don’t know life at all” Some mornings when I go for my walk its not quire daylight. There is just enough light to see where I’m going in the early morning fog, or rising sun. Although I’m on a familiar path there are times something up ahead looks eerily different and alarming. When I get abreast of what looked like a crouching ferral animal, I see it is no more than an old rotting tree stump, changing shapes in the semi darkness. I relax and continue on the path. Something rustles fiercely in the woods. I’m sure it’s a bobcat and once again I’m relieved that it is just a rabbit or a herd of deer—running away from me. At such times Joni Mitchell’s song comes to me loud and clear, and I wonder how much of what we believe, is based on illusion.
You know my early morning illusions are just a metaphor for the many areas of our lives where we believe the illusion is the real deal. We cling to the familiarity of it because it’s the devil we know, rather than examine the true nature of reality. We live in a world where there is no perfection and events are not predictable. The more one tries to control events the more rigid and the smaller that person world becomes. Have you noticed how really fragile and fearful control freaks are when they have to face a crisis. Such people have an illusion of self esteem, they may have the veneer of worldly success but underneath are often dissatisfied anxious or depressed. So they project an illusion of control rather than subject themselves and others to the truth of deep inner feelings of inadequacy.
So where do we start those of us that want to give up the illusions that life offers us any guarantees. A beginning point might be to develop some commitment to face the truth. What is the truth?
Nothing is static or fixed.
Life isn’t always going to go our way.
Adverse events happen in everybody’s life. These events do not mean something is wrong with you or you are being punished by an angry God.
We are conditioned in our culture to seek comfort, avoid discomfort. Our culture denies the nature of reality and we buy it the story line as if it were the truth. The story goes as follows: It is possible to live in an ideal world where things come easily and unpleasant experiences can be avoided. It also suggests if your life is not ideal there is something wrong with you.
The media through powerful marketing portrays others who never have to deal with adversity of daily living. They are presented as physically perfect, never lacking love or companionship and are confident and secure within themselves. We are pressured to look a certain way, buy certain products so we can be more like this group who seem to have few inconveniences in their life. If we live this “ideal life” our children will be beautiful and smart. We will have no health, relationship, or financial struggles and our self esteem will always be high. When things go awry as they will, some people believe its some kind of punishment from on high. They believe if only they had tried harder everybody would be happy—
If we put our real lives next to this illusion of perfectionism and what do we see?
We see ourselves pitiful, if we compare our lives to a snapshot of an ideal, frozen in time. Note I said frozen; there is no life in it. Once it moves past the point of the still image, it changes. On the other hand the images of our real lives look more like this. Lots of worry about the future, children who don’t behave, wrinkles before our time. We have fears of change fears of success, fears of failure, financial problems, and an uncertain future, to name a few of the realities that we are saddled with on our way to the elusive thing we are promised.
There are ways out of the loop. First we have to accept that life is a process and we learn as we go that there is no time when things will be just right. Notice how we believe that things will be better when we lose ten pounds, get the children out of college, retire etc. The old “working until” promise. Lets get real! Whose life works that smoothly? The real problem is the belief about life being, without pain, suffering, adversities, disappointments and all the inherent struggles. What this belief really does is keep us from living in our own rich, messy ways and embracing it all.
Life is as Zorba the Greek referred to it when a young man asked him if he was married. Zorba said oh yes! I am, I have a wife, kids, bills, the full catastrophe. Illusion is an image, dead and superficial. I see life as having parallel tracks, on one side adverse events and on the other side love, joy and creativity. There is no choice, if we give up the illusion, we have to deal with both sides of the tracks and accept what is. We don’t have to like it, however we just have to accept such is the true nature of reality.
Living more authentically needs changing beliefs that no longer work, a set of tools to aid you in working through negative events, and a belief in yourself that pulls you forward when times are hard. In every crisis there is an opportunity for us to grow. Whatever repetitively and negatively shows up in our lives needs to be examined. Such events are for our growing and stretching to teach us something very important we need to learn and if necessary change or accept.
See life’s struggles through the lens of spiritual expansion and higher meaning. Realize to be alive is to feel uncertain. Right there with the uncertainty if we don’t grasp too tightly to the little eddies of security. There will be the parallel track of awe, wonder, joy and curiosity. When you know this you wont buy the illusion, you will know you are the sky the constant and everything else represents the clouds always changing, sometimes gray and gloomy and dreary, and sometimes white fluffy and hopeful.
To be continued…….