Posted by: DCox | March 9, 2009

Living with Mystery

Are we committing (metaphorical) suicide if we don’t learn to be our true selves? That may be overstating the question, but it does remind me that living out of the true self is juxtaposed against not having a sense of the fullness of life with its joy and suffering. It takes courage to be who we really are.

Sometimes our hiding from others has been so successful that we can no long even find ourselves when we want to. We feel submerged, heavy, immovable, stuck forever in the mud of our own making. I think of the patterns of air that circulate around a plane’s wings, lifting even the deadliest, heaviest part of us up and away, off the ground. Blake [William Blake 1757 – 1827; English Poet] must have believed that every human being has access to these metaphorical aerodynamics; he drew figures depicting the dramas of human existence, people flying, falling, coming to earth or spiraling upward. He thought of the artist as a whole man or woman, someone with utter faith in the conversation, alert to the forces that stream around us. To waken this inner artist, we must assume a certain shape that puts us in conversation with the elements; we must cultivate a kind of faith in the moving energies around us and the way they come to our aid, give us lift, no matter our circumstances or difficulties.

    sun-and-moonIf the Sun and Moon should doubt,
    They’d immediately go out.

Blake said, sure of the brilliant and reflective nature of faith. Not that any life is free from doubt, especially when it come to our work and the places we work. Many’s the time we gaze into the mirror in the course of a long work life and see our own faces shaded and eclipsed by a complete loss of connection with our striving. The eyes dimmed, the professional smile false and forced. We pick up the phone and make the call, though we have nothing to say.

Whatever doubt we have, Blake asks us to put that doubt in conversation with grander, more eternal, more essential parts of ourselves. Underneath the face, underneath the surface professionalism, underneath the brief obituary in the paper, there are forces grander than any individual human life at play. To lose contact with these forces is to lose a real sense of living, and especially of living a life we can call our own. Suicide, literal or metaphorical, is the loss of conversation with these forces. Any life, and any life’s work, is a hidden journey, a secret code, deciphered in fits and starts. The details only given truth by the whole, and the whole dependent on the detail. — Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte

mysteryConversation with grander, more eternal, more essential parts of ourselves. It’s easy to become so busy that we don’t join the conversation – although it may be going on without our permission or awareness. Solitude is a gift and provides the space to reflect, converse with your own heart, and converse with mentors throughout history through the words, music, and paintings they’ve left behind. Solitude allows us to grow our comfort level with the mystery we find in our lives. Mystery is a hard thing, especially when we want clarity in the midst of calamity.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. – E.E. Cummings (1894 – 1964; American Poet)

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