The unbearable longing
The search for connection
When I first came to practice I knew I wanted one thing and one thing only, to love better. Myself and others. Although I had been raised to love, I had not been taught how. I assumed love was something you were either good or bad at, like tennis, and that perhaps I wasn’t gifted enough.
My mother was chronically depressed throughout my childhood. I remember coming home from school to find her sat at the kitchen table, starring into empty space. I remember calling to her over and over, sat at that table, and getting no response. I remember never seeing her before mid-day, because she struggled to get out of bed. I remember being surprised the first time I spent the night at a friend’s house, their mother up early making breakfast. Mothers make breakfast?!
I only found out recently from one of my father’s brothers that my mother and I had struggled to connect when I was a small child. I can imagine that. I wasn’t an easy kid on a good day. To a depressed person I would have been difficult. When I heard this from my uncle a penny dropped.
I immediately had a visceral sense of the deep frustration that had run through most of my life like an umbilical cord. The frustration that eventually brought me to practice.
What I longed for was connection. With myself, with other people, and with the world. And what frustrated me was my seeming inability to find it. That frustration had hardened into a belief that I wasn’t worthy of love, giving or receiving it.
But what I deeply longed for still burned inside me: to feel my feelings, share my feelings, and know the feelings of others, without judgment. I wanted to learn how to meet my broken heart with a tenderness soft enough to heal it. To face my imperfections with a courage deep enough to accept them all.
I wanted to feel fully seen and heard by others, and do the same in return. To know that no matter what mistakes we make or how much we are hurting, that we are all deserving of love, simply by the very fact that we exist.
I had spent so much of my life convincing myself that I didn’t need anyone else to be happy, yet the cracks in that story had worn it thin. I knew I needed to shed that skin and grow a new one.
I wanted to show up in the world from a place of conviction for what I knew was true. That we can’t live without each other. That life is not worth living without the other.
Love IS the answer
Now I am not talking here about sticky, sentimental love. The love I am talking about is the kind of love that is born of our deepest need for belonging. For acceptance. For making meaning together out of an otherwise chaotic and unfathomable world.
The love I am talking about is an allowing love. One that holds space for us to manifest exactly as we are, follow our own sources of inspiration, and grow in ways that are personally meaningful to us. This love has no agenda, no need to control anything or anyone, and no end to it.
We find ourselves in a similar situation. We are all going to die. How we deal with that situation is our biggest problem and also our greatest opportunity. The strategies we employ to make life “work” for us either end up bringing us closer to one another, or driving deep wedges between us.
When I look around at the world right now I see so much delusion. People grasping after things that will never ultimately satisfy them. People acting in ways that bring them no closer to any real sense of connection or belonging. People causing immense suffering for themselves or others by giving into their greed and hatred.
But I know that another world is possible. I know, from traversing the depths of my own heart and sitting with my own hatred and greed, that these forces are strong AND that that strength can be harnessed towards greater connection.
Becoming Super Heroes
When we are able to fully face the darkest aspects of what it means to be alive we become super heroes. These parts of us lurk deep within our own hearts. When we begin to get curious about them, we slowly learn how to meet them more and more fully, just as they are. We bring them out of the shadows, and into the light. In the space of awareness, we can come into a more direct and real relationship with these previously hidden, and therefore quite frightening, aspects of ourselves.
In this meeting place, we also touch into the possibility of liberation and transformation of the energies bound up in these previously unwanted parts of us. We do all of this from a place of immeasurable strength and love.
As we do this internal work, we also become more and more able to face these forces of greed and hatred out there in the world. I know this to be true because it has been my path. And I believe that all people are capable of walking this path.
Our humanity is the only thing that will save us
When we are able to face the “other” within ourselves, all the parts of ourselves we don’t like, don’t understand, don’t want to be with, would rather didn’t exist, we begin to stretch the boundaries of what is “acceptable” to what we call “me”. We begin to see that to be a multiplicity of things isn’t as scary as we originally thought. In fact, it is what makes us human and what connects us to one another. And it may very well be what saves us.
I long deeply for our awakening, as a human species and as a means of realizing our deepest potential. Sometimes, this longing feels unbearable. Anything short of this awakening will be the death of us. And when I say that, I do not mean the sum total of each of our individual deaths. I mean the end of life on this planet as we know it.
In order to meet the challenges we face as a global community we will need to find new and creative ways to connect. Practice can help us to discover the connection that has always been there, although obscured by our own delusion.
In this way of working, we wake up to the way things have always been. That we are not ultimately separate from ourselves or anyone else, that our interconnection is our greatest strength and that we need all the strength we can muster in order to transform everything at work in the world that separates us from one another.