The alchemists thought that the opus demanded not only laboratory work, the reading of books, meditation, and patience, but also love.
— The Practice of Psychotherapy
My heart broke a little today. Nothing serious. The earth didn’t shake. Nothing crumbled or tumbled down. It was just one of “those” moments. Lady O calls them ah-ha moments, but that’s not grand enough for me. Joyce said of them, “The soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant.” That’s more like it.
I am familiar with the experience no matter the term. Epiphanies come with regularity now and I am quick to remind myself they are always, no matter the nature, blessings. They don’t always stick despite my best efforts and all these months of redoing, but these hints act as constant reminders of potentiality. In a wink, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I’m flying free from The Flock, unencumbered by imposed limitations. For a second or five, I am strong. Limitless. Sometimes, I am brave enough to embed the message. Other times, merely inhaling releases the revelation into the ether. It’s gone as quickly as it came. That’s okay, I tell myself. If it’s important for me, it’ll come my way again. I mean let’s face it, it can be tough embodying enlightenment. It means not only owning my shit but being prepared to change, two things not mutually exclusive.
The pluck necessary to live fearlessly seems effortless for some. Undaunted by life’s ups and downs, free spirits tirelessly pursue the business of creating their “opus”. Folks like this can be intimidating, but their enthusiasm is contagious. (That’s how you can know the difference between passion and brashness. Brash folks tend to jump to conclusions, don’t listen well, and believe their views are the only ones that matter.) Even when waxing political, or discussing societal or global economic concerns, the truly inspired person focusses on resolutions. Regardless of the weight of the conversation, one leaves it with a sense of hope. Lately, I’ve attracted a horde of cynics whose pessimism borders on nihilism. I’m not sure why this is, but I can’t help but try to escape their company as quickly as possible. The residue from the interaction isn’t as easy to get away from.
Complaining is like a plague. It literally makes me sick. It does, in fact, make us all sick. It’s not that the issues are groundless, rather there is no desire to put a solution in the equation. Furthermore, the words are often spit out with sanctimonious vitriol. There is no room for another opinion, a positive take. “People are all greedy bastards. Our parents were dysfunctional, cruel, and unloving creeps. We can’t save the planet so don’t bother!” Awful stuff, no question, but I’m glad I’m aware of the poison. I wasn’t always. Now I can apply an antidote.
We all need relief from negativity, fear, and worry. Meditation is crucial for keeping sane, but there are times when a build-up of toxicity overwhelms us regardless of how much yoga we do or how many trips we take to the Maldives. The result is disease. And while we’ve become relatively proficient at treating certain illnesses, we are still unable to address attitudes, lifestyles, or habits that cause them. Aligning metaphysical messages to hard reality is still a bit of a joke to us. We ask disdainfully, “How on earth could anger at Mother have anything to do with a cancer diagnosis all these decades later?”
I’m being glib, but there’s truth in it. Suppressed emotions fester. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, until we stop complaining, resist destructive banter, and step away from victim “poor-me” stories, we can’t be fully aware of how engaging in it makes us feel. We’ve become desensitised by years of repetition. We’re further inculcated nowadays through media and indeed, by those around us, whose ceaseless whining and bitching is tolerated while being intolerable. Added to that is self-medication. With any number of substances at our disposal, our body’s language has become alien to us. We push through, cover up, deny ourselves much needed rest and healthy relaxation, and so fail to address issues of well-being at their core. Emotions? Only the good ones are allowed. The other ones, especially anger, are suppressed.
My body and mind have been begging for attention for months. The city’s different energies, constant noise, and setting a pace I’m unaccustomed to, has put a lot of pressure on me. I only half-heartedly complied to the inklings. That’s pretty normal, isn’t it? We all have reasons for not caring for ourselves properly. Now, however, I’m paying for it. My body hurts in places I didn’t know existed. Even typing hurts. My cough is back. My throat aches. I clearly have an infection. I am exhausted inside and out. The grind has done its job and worn me down. Adding insult, I’ve held in my frustration and not acknowledged it’s persistent nudge. I remain a fully aware participant, however, and so, am prepared to take responsibility which means I need to surrender to how I feel and be grateful for it. The latter bit is tough.
Getting this sick and realizing my part in it is why my heart broke. Admitting I didn’t listen is difficult for me. Admitting I am keeping old stories alive is also hard. But, I know what to do. I need to rest, recoup, and practice consciously loving my life. The fact that I’m watching myself go through all this is the epiphany. It’s kind of fun. And, it’s not too late to pay attention. It’s not too late to fly. It’s not too late to get back to conceiving my opus.
My wish is that each morning you take a second to close your eyes and breathe in the breath of gratitude. Say it. I am grateful. My heart is filled with gratitude. I am grateful for each and everything in my life. Your thoughts might stray, might introduce challenges. No matter what comes up, state your gratitude for it. Ah-ha is that Ode to Joy I hear?