Driving to the park early this morning, the top down on my car, the cool morning wind whipping at my face and neck, I took not of the crescent moon, still high in the sky, and the morning sun yawning at the horizon behind my back. The birds are busiest in the morning, you know, so it was their chaotic chatter that serenaded me as I sped along the bare, lonely country road. Then a solitary human voice came into my head singing an old song stolen from contemplative moments during the hippie days: “I’ve look at life from both sides now, from when and where, and still somehow, its love’s illusions I recall…”
My eyes popped open. I could see with those inside eyes where epiphanies are fertilized. It really isn’t love at all; no, not at all.
Life happens on several dimensions simultaneously and we simply aren’t able to grasp them all at once or even to separate them so we can understand and embrace them in their full entirety. Instead, there is some internal mechanism that allows (or dictates?) us to choose one at a time, usually the most outer, most physical, most obvious one, and that is what we react to, the level on which we live most of our days. We interpret our lives from the behaviors of others we encounter and our own choices. This in itself creates a highly complex web of dynamics and therefore tends to consume our lives. But unless we delve into the other levels, we are stuck in illusions.
Yes, illusions of love. But it really isn’t love at all; no, not at all.
I am thinking of the parent who fails to protect, the parent who victimizes his child, the lover who lies, the friend who walks away… These things cause crippling pain. So to survive, we pack the pain deep inside. Terrified it might return, we slather it with mud in the form of words of anger and hatred, acts of self abuse, attitudes that we hope will solidify the pain into lifeless stone that cannot be resurrected. We misunderstand love, at once both unable to trust another human, and at the same time, seeking love at every turn. We are either angry at God or simply deny any existence of such an omnipotent, all-powerful Great Spirit we are told is “loving”. It just doesn’t make sense: a real God wouldn’t allow such devastating and crippling pain in those He/She is supposed to “love”.
No, it doesn’t make sense. But that is because we are viewing it from the world of illusions. The people who hurt us did so because of their own bundle of shit; not because love isn’t real.
The challenge of the earth life experience is to reconnect to Spirit even while trapped in physical form. The dynamics of human interactions leaves us all with big bags of shit: the abusive parent destroys our innocence, the natural avenue to healthy maturation; the deceitful lover poisons our hearts, the path to visions and depth of understanding. These kinds of encounters are thieves – they rob us of years, sometimes all of our years. The only way to stop the thief, and end the pain, is to move beyond the illusion.
How? This is the irony of the earth life experience: in order to overcome the pain, we have to embrace it.
We cannot avoid the illusion because it comes with the earth experience, but we have to transform ourselves beyond it. This is a huge feat, and yet, the choice is simple: walk into the dark shadows where the monsters reign and forge onward until you arrive in the “promised land” (and for whatever it is worth, I’m asking you to believe without reason that you will emerge into paradise that is greater than any dream); or stay in the illusion where you will grow weary and ugly from the steady seepage of poisonous pain.
If you stay in the illusion, you will have moments of happiness. You will have friends who care (they will come and go), and you will have successes that make you smile. But the pain will eat away at your soul and one day you will wake up and be shocked by how hard and crusty you have become. In the process of living, you will always know that there is a hole in your heart and you will have to expend tremendous energy constantly patching it.
If you choose to face the pain on the other hand, know first of all, that you don’t have to do it alone. Feed your soul with the living earth, not the people who walk her surface, but the life force that has endured all the violence of human touch. The dependability of the seasons, for example, is proof of the value of faith and patience. Consider the flowers that are slashed to their death, and yet return. Feel the air on your skin and allow yourself to be cradled by its touch. Feel the sensation of your blood surging through your body; lift the gate in your heart and give in to the movement of your blood as it pushes your tears outward, drenching your skin.
The field of psychology is full of professionals trained to hold your hand as you ride the torrential journey through your pain. Choose to trust.
The pain is unbearable, even in its tightly packed container in your heart. So the idea of letting it out paralyzes you with fear. Of course you don’t want to face it! It takes courage.
Have courage. I can’t tell you where to find courage, but I can tell you that it’s there; it is within your grasp. Have courage, then let it be. It will take you into hell, but it will bring you out.
Coming out of hell will change you and you will finally know, in no uncertain terms, that you will never have to go back. Coming out of hell will not relieve you from the illusions however, because the earth life experience is defined by illusions. The difference is that you will be able to see the illusions and therefore be able to embrace the other dimensions of life. You will know how to balance them. You will know the difference between love’s illusions and real love.
Yes, there is such a thing as “real” love. Journey on, my dear, sweet child, and look at life from both sides (all sides). Only then will you be able to merely recall the illusions while living authentically the truth that is safe and pure and uniquely yours to know.