Alone In The World
All I want for my children is for them to be happy. The things that I teach them are designed to bring them joy either now or at some point in the future. I only want what is best for them as I see it. The most difficult part, for me, as a parent is fearing for my children in this world. How can I fix the world or find a way for me not to leave them alone in it? I found that problem impossible for one person to address. Then I reconsidered; what is my relationship with the world that makes me fear for them?
Tibetan philosophy teaches man’s dysfunction, divorce, or evolution from nature dictates that he will naturally be at disharmony with his surroundings and to achieve peace he must retreat into himself. He should distance himself from the world and suffering. Life is pain, attachment is suffering; fear it,accept it and try not to experience it. You can’t have it all; peace in your soul and a peaceful, creative, and prosperous interaction with the world. I’ve tried meditation and reached the stillness and peace that lie at the core of my existence, however, I will not turn my back to this world and shun it as an unfixable mess, a Gordian knot of pain, an inevitability. How can I achieve a real lasting peace in my soul when the people I love in this world have to experience this world daily, deal with it, and try to reconcile it to their dreams? The people I love will always reconnect me to this world so any distance I can achieve from it will only be temporary.
So, peace or love, you pays your money, you makes your choice, and you takes your chances.
I’m fond of deconstructing problems using a Taoist model, “the blending of opposites”, a yin/yang duality which properly expressed is not opposites, but complementary forces (that which is simple, or irreducible, and that which is easy, composed of the simple). I find it very helpful in problem solving and encouraging in that difficulty does not exist in the solution of the problem itself, but in the reduction and deconstruction of it into its most basic and ultimately elementary components.
I put this question to myself: Can a person achieve peace in this world, truly, by separation from it or immersion in it? At this point in time, the answer is obvious to me that one cannot. The answer does not exist at the extremes. So,I modified the question : Can a person achieve peace in this world by balancing the conflicting ideas of separation and immersion? My mind wandered off on this tangent;
I love poetry. The precise, concise statement of ideas given music and power by the genius of the poet. Who wouldn’t want to create the”ultimate fiction” and spend their time exploring the human condition? Well, I’ve accepted my limitations as a writer; my sonnets don’t sing and my metaphors fall flat as the page they are written on. They say acceptance is the final stage of grieving and there I am. I love it but apparently it doesn’t love me back. “We’ll always have Paris…”(a Casablanca digression -you can do for yourself.)
No matter how much I loved poetry it would not allow me to create it; it was beyond my capacities. I could not find the world in myself or see myself in the world. We had become separate realities that neither could express to the other. I could achieve a balance of expression at the compromise of it, never being able to express it and feel it at the same time. This balancing act led to disaffection towards poetry in varying degrees depending on how we were treating each other. The same as my relationship with the world; my view of it was continually compromised by where I was emotionally with respect to it. No matter how much I loved or hated it, I never felt a response.
So, if I’m so disenchanted with this world, why bother? I should teach my children to meditate and shut it out. I recently had a experience beyond description whose power I will do my best to convey.
A few weeks ago, I came to another person, a virtual stranger to me, in the very depths of depression; a moment of such soul-crushing despair I had never known before. There was no reason to turn to this person for comfort; it was not the nature of our relationship, meager as it was.
She was perfect, so exactly what I needed. Somehow the experience she had with this world was the yin to my yang, the complimentary experience that changed me. I was lucky enough to be there for her yesterday. Until then I don’t think she understood what that moment meant to me but she does now.
When she began to feel better yesterday, I began to examine with her how I had come to see the world in the past few weeks to see if she was feeling the beginnings of it as well.
The first thing was the sheer relief of it, that we could bear ourselves so fully on each other and be righted by the other. We marveled at the complexities of the world and the possible experiences available to each person every day and how they had twice consolidated into perfection, her for me first, then me for her.
Then we talked about the nature of the despair that we had felt and realized it was all in our heads but couldn’t have been borne without the other. No meditation would have gotten us past those moments, ourselves, alone. We needed the other and the world had provided us for each other. This most imperfect world had reached out to us.
We talked about the joy we felt for each other and the world. The despair life had put in us was removed by the world and replaced with a new sense of both; not as just a burden to be endured that eventually breaks us, but also the means to endure it, transcend the brutality of it, and see the beauty.
Lastly, we talked about how this moment would change us. We talked about how transformed we felt and how sure we were that it had made us better. Having more distance I offered this metaphor: From the moment she saved me, I had felt both a love of this world(especially for her) and a hardness in my soul that those times had brought. I likened it to a diamond in my soul; the hardest thing imaginable when forced upon but radiating light back from the world even more beautifully. These moments created a lasting resource of comfort and coping for life.
When she had been there for me, I left her feeling grateful and loved; when I was there for her I left feeling appreciated and loving. These things flowing to each of us from the other from the world. Complementary experiences, not opposite as I assumed, complementary experiences I had with the world.
I now see the world as a dutiful parent; sometimes stern and reproachful to me, but ultimately making joy possible and available as I seek it and need it. I will leave my children to this world as I have come to know it now; imperfect largely, but perfect when called upon.
So, I give this back to the world so others may receive it as I did.