I've been flailing about lately, as perhap you may have discerned from my recent posts. I could also say I've been a bit in the wilderness, a place without borders or signposts, without a nice cup of tea waiting at home for me, with a few wild animals tracking my footsteps and a distinct lack of fresh water.
I am tempted, as is easy to do, to assume that this is a problem, that something is wrong in me or in my life. To temper this, I find the good old 'New Age' sound bites rising up in my mind. "Follow your heart". "Trust the process". "Everything is a lesson". Oh, to be a New Age writer churning out masterpieces such as "The Little Book Of Wisdom" whilst earning a nice few hundred thousand spondulies.
I digress. I can mock such phrases, but that doesn't stop them from potentially being true. The problem for me, as I suspect it may be for a lot of people who don't feel guided by angels or the will of God, is precisely how to discern exactly what these statements mean. One can follow ones heart, but that doesn't mean it won't lead you straight into a ditch. One can try and trust the process, even if it's difficult, but there's often the niggling doubt that there might not actually be a process going on at all, one may just be in a bit of a mess. On a good day, all is a vast and mysterious lesson from which one grows. On a bad one, well, the word dukkha springs to mind, that is, things are painful and crap, and basically sometimes there can be no reasoning that out. In fact, to try and reason it out is just to try and escape the suffering.
Having said all this, it cheers me up more to think of profound cosmic things afoot in my experience, of processes rising and falling and leading me to a greater understanding of something or other.
So how to find something in this life that endures. That's the question. I know it's all going away, every last drop of this life is disappearing with the clouds, never to return. And living with such fragility and uncertainty, and finding the peace and beauty is certainly what I have been taught to do through Buddhist practice, and what I've tried to do, in whatever ways I can, for years.
But right now it doesn't feel enough. I can't struggle with that existential question on my own. My body isn't large enough to hold the magnitude; this 'self' of mine cannot meet nature, time, old age, sickness and death on its own terms, never mind violence, injustice, poverty, cruelty, betrayal, corruption, abuse of power. I am no one woman army. And the fact that we all stand in exactly the same shoes when it comes to facing life and death means we can be guiding lights to each other, unfortunately our relationships made out of the same fragile and delicate material as this life. We can claim solidarity, but we still face the questions alone.
Perhaps it is obvious, where I'm going in this post. This thing that endures, that can hold all life within it; that isn't separate from life or from the people in it; that's in the buildings and the structures of our existence, the hearts and minds and bodies, as it is in the end of them. But is it an unnameable force which is at once there and not there, an emptiness which is full, a fullness which is ultimately empty; the beauty of transience itself? Or is it a tangible, real presence we can call on, we can count on, that has a name and a face; a body and blood?
I don't know. But these are the questions I don't quite know how to put to rest.