The lessons are coming at me, thick and fast, like a sudden October blizzard. I might have preferred to linger in the autumnal woods a while, melancholy gathered around my shoulders, wanting the luxury of slow contemplation, deliberate rock stepping, solitary, pensive tears, but all of that is becoming rapidly obliterated. Life is determined to seize me, demand my attention, whip the wind into my face, cancel out the shapes of familiar terrain. It’s done with whispering.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s impossible for me, right now, to make sense of all the upheaval in my life, in my relationships. Messages come to me in rapid-fire from all corners, messages of intense frustration, some impressive in their mighty attempts to build bridges of understanding and love, some equally striking in their destructive force. I seem to have touched many nerves in many people, as I have also been touched deeply.
In the middle of this blizzard, this is what I’m trying to do: to be still. To allow the lessons and insights to accumulate in my lap, whether they are made of lead or fire or kittens. To accept, profoundly, over and over, my own limitations and the limitations of others. The wind picks up and I let it touch me; I won’t wall myself off from it. I continue to feel every ache; these are treasured aches, you must understand; they are the necessary consequences and reminders of opening one’s heart. I let go of what the wind tears away.
It’s really not a terrible place, loves- we’re led to believe that such experiences are “bad” and if we can only “fix” it then we can make things “right.” I’m mostly expending my effort on changing my frame of reference. What else can I control? Not much. It’s not a tragedy that I, we, don’t have much control over all kinds of circumstances. The tragedy is when we can’t perceive joy.
I see the joy. It can appear fragile, existing as it does only in the present moment. If I let myself dwell too long in the past or future, if I don’t allow this moment to be my touchstone, it can get lost. If I worry about whether joy, or love, or comfort, or community, or life itself, will “last,” or if it was ever solid, or if it will return, it’s a sure route to blindness to the present moment.
I’m just a person, a human animal. I return to my animal body. I cry real tears and feel grateful for each one. My face knows how to smile, and does; I’m smiling now at the lucky gift of being alive, surrounded by others who think and feel, bathed in our shared light. The vagaries of life can descend like a white-out, but this light burns steadfast and strong.