There are moments in life when it is appropriate to step back from actively participating in the richness and complexity in the foreground of daily life. Sometimes it is self- motivated, other times the forces of nature decide for us. Either way, it is a powerful practice, to step back and observe the interplay of life’s events, the mind, and the relationships we have with self and other that create context and meaning. It is a way of digesting the contents of ones life which often happens too fast for us to process fully life’s experiences.
For the past week and a half, partly by preference and partly circumstantial, I have found myself best suited in the background allowing time to absorb the intricacies of the unfolding weeks and months that lay behind me.
Almost two weeks ago I nearly underwent what could have been a life changing surgery. The logistics didn’t work out this time around, but I remain hopeful that the surgery will happen when the time is right. What struck me about the unfolding of events is that while I didn’t ever fear the impending surgery or feel remorse when I heard it would not take place, instead I felt frustration. In the subsequent days, perhaps as a result of being in the hospital over a prolonged period, I came down with a throat infection that reduced me to lying in bed for over a week. During this time, the frustration mounted. My desire to be well combined with a feeling of lost time and loss of control over my health led me to want to shut off from the rest of the world. I was bored by explaining how I was feeling. As friends and family called to check on me in the aftermath, I found myself wanting to retreat. The truth was, I didn’t know how I was feeling about the botched surgery attempt. I only knew I wasn’t ready to talk about it, and certainly didn’t want to admit that I was once again sick in bed. In truth, a part of me didn’t want to expose the shadows of the darker thoughts arising. Friends and family grew anxious when calls were left unattended, making assumptions about how I was coping based on limited information. I felt smothered yet very alone.
There has never been a moment when I have felt ungrateful for the wonderful family and friends I have that care so much about my well being, and I recognise that I share my life with many, only in part due to this blog that I have chosen to write as transparently as possible. I write as a form of catharsis, as a way of staying connected even when physically I am not always able to be as present as I would like, and in the hopes that someone may benefit from some small part of what I’ve written.
We all have darkness and light. It is a part of the human condition, and yet, all too often the person the foreground may feel an obligation to be light, inspiring, patient, wonderful. That is how culture and society tell us to behave in order to be accepted. Suffering comes in many forms, but to be sure, we have all experienced it. Sometimes, standing in the darkness, however that may manifest, is the only way of truly understanding its boundaries, or lack thereof, and its relationship to the light. Standing still can be a tremendous personal journey; one that deserves reflection and acceptance. When we stand in the darkness long enough, the very thing that makes us feel separate and alone also has the ability to shine a light on the unity of all beings.
I envision an ocean colliding into a beach. The ocean and the beach are in constant contact, their relationship is inescapable. The darkest folds of the heaviest, most severe waves give rise to luminous foam that dissipates into vapour. As the waves ease, the steady gentle breaks of a lighter surf are absorbed into sand and rock, pulling down into the heavy sea layers below. The ebb and flow of all of life, a perfect circle.