Essay, Reflections

Sitting With the Pain…

Have you ever experienced one of those moments of cosmic synchronicity in which you know, in that very moment, that what is happening is of great significance in your life? That while you may not know for some time exactly what that significance is, you will nonetheless look back on that day, on that moment, and remember exactly how you were feeling, and what you were thinking, and how you knew, you really, really knew that it was important and life-altering, even? I had one of those moments not too long ago. And today, I am beginning to understand some of the significance associated with it…

It involved meeting someone, as it very often does. Unexpectedly. Unplanned. Spontaneous. And real. So very, very real…

In this case, I wound up meeting a woman who would become a new, but old-feeling friend. I knew the instant I walked into that shop that I had “arrived” where I needed to be, and had been brought there by another friend I met in a similar fashion. And when the shopkeeper began talking to me, I felt the instant connection! I was so overwhelmed in that moment with joy and excitement, that I violated some of my oldest and most vigorously upheld standards. I literally kept invading this poor woman’s space, reaching out to touch her without permission, speaking my thoughts without censorship, riding the waves without thought of consequences. I tried to stop myself; I really did! So much so, that I even pointed it out to her, apologizing for reaching for her without permission, while my physical hands continued to reach for her, connecting eventually, before she could either encourage or deny my invasion. We talked at and over and around each other so quickly, and with so much (non-existent) history between us, that an observer could easily be forgiven for assuming we were long-lost friends finding each other again. I doubt anyone, except the friend who had brought me there, would ever believe we had just met…

And yet we had… At least this time around, anyway…

In any event, we have become friends now. And last night we met for dinner. We spoke of many things, some universally important, most only personally relevant. But among the many topics we touched on was a brief mention of a revelation she’d recently had. It was her understanding now that we are very close, as a species, to reaching that “critical mass” of awakened individuals, and all of that in direct defiance of my more recently developed fatalistic viewpoint in which I have lost hope in humanity’s ability to redeem itself. Still, it was good to hear, from someone I admire, a sense of hope again. And her message was clear: those who are awakened must now endeavor to “sit in their pain.” It has become her belief that all of us humans have experienced slavery first hand, that all have been “slaves” in this life or another, and that the pain of those experiences continues to leach out and poison all that we attempt to do. While I cannot speak to the veracity of that claim, it is easy to see the implications of it; and clearly something poisons the souls of those who live today. Who am I to say exactly what it might be? But I can honestly speak of the residual pain and suffering that exist in the world, based upon my own personal experience of it, and my empathic sensing of it all around me…

The pain itself is real! Regardless of the cause(s), the pain, and suffering, are real…

But perhaps the piece that most loudly rang my bell was the idea that we need to “sit with the pain.” What exactly does that mean?

I wasn’t sure last night, but the phraseology appealed to me; something about it rang true. So I stored it away in that place in my brain where random thoughts congregate to steep and stew before erupting anew as fully fledged ideas, theories, revelations, epiphanies, and moments of brilliance and profundity. And there it stayed… Briefly.

But today I got a message from another friend, who happened to be in a great deal of pain, and she was asking for my help. I would have liked to have said no, preferring to focus on the mundane, boring aspects of my life. Intuitively I understood that she was asking me to open that proverbial box of Pandora’s, and I was consciously reluctant to do so. But several incidents coincided to make that impossible for me to do…

First, a two word message from the Universe on how to spend my day: Service and Authenticity. It was my mission today to be as “helpful” as possible, while still being authentic and true to myself, without apology or expectation of acceptance. And it was further complicated by the assurance that my “authenticity” must show through my communications with others; it was to be a day of “speaking my heart and mind” without regard for consequence.

Second was a weird phenomenon that started a few days ago, but peaked today, in which I could “hear” and “understand the words” spoken to me, but not understand the meaning of them, even (or especially) in context. Simple example: my roommate asked me to “close the kitchen door.” Simple enough! Except for the fact that we have no door between the kitchen and the rest of the house. Nor is there a door between the kitchen and the pantry, or the kitchen and the upstairs. In fact, the only door in the kitchen is to the basement, and it is always closed. I just stood there, trying desperately to comprehend the message, wondering why it made no sense?! What the hell was she talking about?!

She sat and watched this struggle for several seconds, growing more bewildered as they slithered by, and I asked half-questions (unfinished as their absurdity struck me dumb), and made ridiculous suggestions about barricading the kitchen off, and… Well, you get the idea. Finally, I stumbled to a halt, absolutely uncertain what it was she was asking of me, and unwilling to continue stumbling in the dark. And she said “the outside door”?

Oh, yes, we do have a kitchen door that leads out to the back deck. And it was, at that time, standing wide open… Why that thought never crossed my mind is beyond me; I simply do not know. But it had been like that all day, and was growing worse. I was even beginning to wonder if I was having mini-strokes or something similar, for nothing else seemed logical…

Until finally I stumbled to my room, and to my bed, overcome by exceptionally bad physical pain, mental anguish and confusion (because you know how I hate not knowing), and emotional ambivalence only just beginning to feel the taint of fear… And I decided to meditate. To clear my head, ease my physical pain, strengthen my calm and focus, and… well, you know the drill by now…

But first, not wanting to fall behind again, I decided to check for comments that needed answering on my blog. And it was then I discovered that someone had been exploring my archives (a good thing, to be sure!). Until I noticed a title I didn’t recognize, published early last month… Naturally, my curiosity led me to check it out, as a whisper sounded near my ear… “psychosis”… like a breath exhaled…

Psychosis… There are few words that trigger such a deep-seated reaction from me, for I have spent an entire lifetime (maybe several) defying such a diagnosis, convincing myself, and anyone who would listen, that I am definitely not crazy! But the symptoms, my friends, are real… And definable, to a certain extent.

Missing time is a big one, especially when things appear from those missing moments that I do not recall. Journaling was always a useful tool in tracking those “lost” moments, their frequency, duration, and memories, so I could later claim to know them as my own. And as I explored my own archives tonight, I found many, many posts about the vagaries of time. Today at work, I put in for time off in 2018, so that my boss had to come find me to see if that’s what I meant to do. I hadn’t, of course; just confused about what year it is. Or was… On the way home, the DJ on the radio station talked about what happened “on this day in rock history: May 6th” Oddly enough, that’s the date of the unfamiliar post, which, as it turns out, I remember writing; I just didn’t remember the title. But there was something in that post about suffering, and sacrifice, and about “pure potential waiting to exhale…”

An inability to connect with reality. This symptom takes many forms, from hallucinations, to disrupted or displaced memories, to disorientation. Even to the point of being unable to comprehend the spoken or written word… And I have spent the last month, at least, exploring the games we play with language, only to find myself understanding words without comprehending their meanings. Hmm…

“Enough, already!,” I told myself, shying away from the memories of truly odd, inexplicable happenings over the last few days. “I need to get out of my own head, and I need to do it now!” Meditation time. With music, I think…

Until my CD player simply blew up… And my phone started doing whatever it wanted on its own… So I grabbed my laptop and headed downstairs to send a message to that friend who wanted my help. Service and authenticity are my words of the day… Until I opened that laptop to discover my wallpaper had changed (but not by my doing), and I was staring at the keys of a very old-fashioned typewriter…

And that’s when it occurred to me that I was not breathing at all. Until some invisible (or imagined) force poked me, startling me, and I gasped, and choked, and coughed until I cried… And finally, I was breathing like a person almost drowned. And the light-headedness swamped me, and my balance wavered, and I stepped forward to more firmly plant my feet. Only to discover there was nothing in front of me but an open abyss. And I was tumbling, and falling within…

All around me, broken pieces, mirrored glass, as other times and other words floated past. Sharp edges slicing me, stinging, burning, as they attacked with a mindless, undirected fury of their own. And I could not defend myself, nor find a place of shelter from that storm of sharp ideas, and fantasies, and fears. And there was pain. Endless pain. Sweet and tangy, bitter as bile, exquisite in its purity and perfection. And that part of me that appreciates beauty, even when found in tragedy, responded to that perfection, reaching for the purity of the pain itself… And a miracle occurred!

It was in reaching for the pain that the pieces began to rearrange themselves into something quite remarkable. A mandala formed before my eyes, a complex pattern of broken pieces, comprising something whole and undivided. I stared in disbelief at the picture thus revealed, so many unrelated parts becoming so essential to each other, and I understood what I had only ever wondered about…

We have to “sit with the pain.”

We have to own it.

We have to claim it, as both right and privilege.

We have to feel it…

Life is suffering. Pain is real. And all we’ve ever done, all of us, is look for ways to escape, avoid, deny, cover, hide, inflict, transcend, transmute, transform, and heal pain! Anything, anything at all, to minimize our experience of it, while surrounding ourselves with it. And that, my friends, must end…

I am not suggesting that we should each seek the experience of pain, by self-inflicting, or self-indulging in the pain that life presents. Rather, I am suggesting that we each find time to experience that which is already within, and around, and part of us. In quiet moments of reflection, let it be, for there is no escape from pain. We must allow ourselves to feel it…

And in sitting with the pain, perhaps we will find something else of great value to us All…

Advertisements
Standard

4 thoughts on “Sitting With the Pain…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s