Belonging is such a fundamental part of being on this earth. Is it something you take for granted? Is it something you’ve never imagined, instead feeling estranged or exiled? Or do you move from loneliness to a sense of attachment and back again, like a slow tide?
If we don’t medicate or take the “spiritual bypass”, dark passages can sink us into mythic caves of unexplored territory. When we finally emerge, weeks or months later, we may be able to see the spiritual teaching and the inestimable value of that journey. But while there, all we can do, is hang on and stay present, in as kind away as possible. The illusion is complete and only the barest threads of consciousness, whisper to us not to take the thoughts seriously. Easier said than done. Difficult and lonely, these journeys are challenging and evolving. Thomas Moore borrowed St. John of the Cross’ phrase “dark night of the soul” to describe such experience. I love the poetry of David Whyte for he, too, takes on dark journeys and emerges with illumination – covered in bits of earth.
Medication and the internet have cast these mythic journeys into oblivion – and we are the poorer. This culture has made us afraid of them – with some good reason. They are not to be trifled with and certainly not for everyone. When we do take them on, however, healing can occur that medication could never hope to touch.
I’ve been a “traveller” all my life, not so much from place to place – though I did a lot of that when I was younger; but more, moving on the edges of things, never staying long, alighting for a time, then taking off again. Bird sculptures adorn the walls of my house. I have always needed this fundamental freedom but what gets sacrificed is a sense of belonging – whether to a graduating class or to the neighbourhood.
Most people would far rather medicate or force feed happy thoughts than deal with one’s locked vaults of aloneness. I, too, might have given in to medication but I was caught at four a.m, naked, with no handholds. Cornered with the reality of “we are born alone and we die alone”, I finally gave in. Yup. I realized any clinging to friends or family just made me more vulnerable. I finally stopped. Being alone was the last stop. Utterly. Feeling it with every pore.
Often, if we slay dragons, the reward is alchemy. Mine was this: within seconds of being completely fine with my fundamental aloneness, the illusion of walls melted like lingering April ice ; my chest opened: I could breathe easily and I was left with my fundamental connectedness with everything and everyone. I just lay there and breathed, contemplating miracles.
The crux had been embraced. Kindness to self becomes kindness to all, just as pushing away a fundamental part of me, meant pushing others away (as introverts do), creating a false sense of isolation.
All kindness is one kindness and we are all embraced by it.
Dedicated to David Whyte, for being a soul journeyer and inspiration. You give me courage. And to my heart-sister friends many of whom know and can speak of these same journeys. The richness of our friendship nourishes my life.
And, as always, please share this as you never know who might need to read these words.