I’ve been feeling a sense of peace lately, a pretty sharp upturn from the existential crisis I had just a month or so ago. Thinking of being a nun was an useful thought exercise, if I already had an intention of letting the secular world go, would I be capable of embracing that attitude in the secular world?
Life cannot be fully analysed or explained, but I would attribute that most recent contemplation of my existence to my new found sense of being. If one could attempt to throw everything away and deal with the sense of loss that comes with it, it could be profoundly liberating.
I think there will always be a constant tension between the sovereignty of oneself versus the sense of being connected to a greater collective. I don’t think a person can contribute effectively to the collective without having a true sense of self, that particular unique expression we can only bring to the world by truly honouring the self that lives within us, and yet develop such a strong awareness that one belongs to a collective that there is not really a self without the greater whole. A lot of life’s wisdom is contained in these paradoxes and constant balancing of poles.
What I have slowly begun to observe in myself is the capacity to let myself be, but losing the attachment to the outcome, or any sense that anything good or bad is happening because of my perceived specialness. I think the universe will always find a way to compensate if anyone of us is missing, that no, the world will not end if any of us stop doing that world-changing thing we think we are doing. What will be lost is that version of the universe we could be co-creating if we could contribute in some sustainable, sane manner. The loss is that expression – colours will still continue to exist if a particular shade of blue is missing, but it will not be the same.
I keep going back to observing nature, I don’t think they know the concept of hustle, they just are. Even a breathless predator chase is a manifestation of them being what they are. Apparently we come with a higher consciousness, but what that means is that we also come with the capacity to self-sabotage, to limit or resist our very own selves.
By having no pre-conceived notion of who I want to become or what I want to accomplish, by letting go of these expectations whether it comes internally or externally, I am beginning to experience what life can be if I simply allow myself to unfold, to embrace every moment, cherish it and yet have the courage to let them all go.
I used to hold on to my work so tightly, that if I didn’t give it my all to pursue its trajectory of success I would consider myself to be a failure. Yet the paradox lies in being able to see work as a natural extension of me, and if it is natural I wouldn’t need to exert too much force on it. I guess repeated readings of the Tao Te Ching is definitely contributing to this evolving way of being.
The capacity to fail, to face it, to take ownership of it, and to be proud of these failures, to know I have done my best and not shrink away from the magnitude of my hopes – that is remarkable on its own. So in a lot of ways I thrive and push boundaries by deliberately seeking failure. It took 35 years of life to have this awareness.
I am alive because I open myself to life, I suffer because of the same openness. A painful fragment of my past came back to haunt me recently, the outcome of my youthful idealism and risk appetite. I think if it happened any earlier it would have broken me, to carry the weight of that memory and experience.
Now, I acknowledge it, all of it. The guilt, the responsibility, all the pain and joy of that experience, the unintended consequences that came along with it, and I hold it all – the capacity to know I have done wrong, and yet know I have done my best in the situation given the person I was, all the tools and knowledge that were available to me, that I have chosen take that leap, but I fell on my face instead.
But I took that leap. I didn’t run away from life, and I didn’t stay in safety. I accept the consequences, and I will never forget the lessons it taught me, and it will continue to influence my way of life, for better or worse.
That crack in me, along with all the other cracks that happened because I seem so prone to taking these leaps – the biggest takeaway I had from them is the lesson of grace, to others and to myself. I would be so much less of a person without them.
I have lost so much of myself, but I have gained so much in return. I think that is the consequence of pursuing aliveness.