Puttering around my kitchen this morning, a thought that has been shifting around in the sub-floor of the jungle that is my brain started to gently rise through the undergrowth. Making its way up, the nebulous formation of that thought that has been my preoccupation for a while now became just a little bit clearer.
I’ve been searching for meaning for a long time. Because my family made of me a black sheep when I was very young, cutting me off, I’ve had to try and find connection and meaning in places other than family. You see, being human is all about belonging, to self, to someone, to something. I’ve always sought out simplicity in my life style, because too much complication, too much ambition, too many constraints make me feel anxious and I find all of these things stressful.
So this morning, the emerging gem of a thought was very simply this: I don’t need to be anyone or accomplish anything in my life. I don’t need to be “somebody”. I don’t need to create great art or writing for posterity. I am a human being, a living creature in the great chain of evolution. Other beings co-exist with me, other beings have preceded me, and other forms of being will follow me. I am just a part of nature in a complex chain of being, and this is a great mystery. I am a great mystery because I am alive and unique. Creating art, writing, sharing is an act of appreciation for being alive, right now. I don’t need to expect anything else of myself or of anyone else…just to show appreciation for my life and all of life.
This seems banal and probably cliched. The thing is, I can’t think of a single person in my entourage (which is not very big, granted!) who does not feel stressed about body image, financial stress, social standing, career path or other accomplishments, relationships. These things only seem to matter because we are surrounded (no matter into what culture we are born) by a story that creates expectations. This story is civilization itself. Our societies tell us how we should be, and not who we really are. The truth is, we don’t know who we really are. I deeply love my son, my dog, but the inner workings of their hearts and minds is nearly totally unknown to me. The gift of being in their presence has to be enough.
I am starting to feel ok with being a mystery. It feels special, and it makes me a little bit nervous, because it is so simple. Can life be that simple, to just live and appreciate? Sometimes be afraid, sad, a being of thought, feeling, compassion, creative and destructive? My ambition is to just be, be part of the web of nature, to love and respect all that is me and around me. To touch things with reverence, to observe the folly of humans while holding everyone in my heart, even when incredibly intolerable cruelty is being committed, and not say it is right or wrong, but probably misguided because of the story behind it. I am horrified by so much that I see on the news, and I wonder, is that monster of hatred and violence that is fear and the need to be right inside of me too? I don’t feel the need to be right, and I don’t think I need to tell others how to be or not to be. I can’t tell anyone not to believe in their stories, not to destroy our mother earth, not to abuse women, children, animals or to enslave others for their own profit and pleasure.
Power is a drug that has a powerful pull, and there are so many humans who crave the sweet mind rush, the energy that is so addictive. I realize that few humans will be attracted by a simpler life, the life of a witness, the joy of the Sufi poet. I can only suppose that the struggles, the greed, the subjugation, the stories that oppose various groups of humans around the planet will continue until we destroy each other, while hoping against hope that enough people will wake up in time so that this does not happen.
Left is the realization that no matter how much we fight to preserve certain thought patterns, beliefs, or way of life, we will not destroy nature; we don’t have the power to eliminate our true nature. Even if all or most of humanity is murdered because of the stories for which people are willing or unwilling to die, the reality is that our true nature consists of pure love and connection to the circle of birth and death that is life.
Humans are beings who need and love stories. Stories connect us when we cannot understand one another. Stories are part of our nature, and yet stories also destroy the connections between us and with our own hearts and souls. If only we could delight in our stories without identifying with them so deeply!