The most powerful moments in my life have been immediately following the ending of a particular cycle – more often than not that cycle has been a romantic relationship. I always feel most powerful in these moments because the world and all of its possibilities are new and open to me again. There is a significant sense of empowerment that follows the devastation of a break up, and it is in these times that I have accomplished the most in my life.
When I was 21, following a most passionate and equally tragic relationship ending, I picked up the guitar and taught myself to play. And I wrote, and, in general, I felt that anything was possible. Everything we had dreamed of together, or fought about, was mine to take or leave.
When I look back at this, and the many other similar episodes, I realize I was always searching in an attempt to not feel lost. To not feel so alone. Yoga, and the community I discovered through it, gave me a sense of belonging and direction, at least for a time.
To say that I feel betrayed by any one person is probably not accurate. At the heart of it, I feel betrayed by myself, by my perceptions and the things I couldn’t recognize to be false in others. I also feel as though, maybe, all of it is bullshit. The platitudes, and the teachings they arise from, lose meaning when spoken by people in their need (likely much like mine) to belong to something while they are also, at the same time, ironically disconnected from the actual suffering they both experience and create.
Lately, my whole experience of life seems to be boiled down to these inconsistencies and contradicting beliefs as well as cycles of delusion, awareness and despair. The beginning, the attraction to a person or situation, is so compelling. I am smitten, almost immediately. But when I go back through my journals, I shake my head and wonder, how could I have thought so highly of this?
But then, the teachings say we are all a reflection of each other. What I loathe in you lives in me and when I fall in love, almost immediately, and somewhat incessantly, it is because I am falling in love with myself, again and again. The trap comes in the story, the analyzing and categorizing of people and events. This relates back to my need not to feel so lost. I want it to make sense.
In the past year my entire search, and the ground I thought I had gained, has deteriorated. All of the beliefs and people I had surrounded myself with have fallen away, in one way or another, and my own perception of who I am is unclear, at best.
The initial ending incited those familiar feelings of strength and openness. There I stood, at the precipice of anything can happen, free of the shackles of this former entanglement and identity, able to carve any pathway to a new ending. It was liberating and exhilarating.
So I picked up my carving tools and began creating and redefining and directing, only to realize what had ended was any concrete connection to all that I had come to believe. Everything was open to questioning and scrutiny, and it still is. That is where I am right now – the island of nothing is real. I am coming to realize what impermanence really means, and how the Buddhists say that all life is suffering. It is our struggle against that suffering that creates anguish. Because we make the actions of others, or our own actions, mean something.
Navigating this new territory is not comfortable, to say the least, but I am starting to settle in. It is not that what I have learned through Yoga (and similar teachings) is untrue, but it is also not the truth. The truth, if we can agree that it exists, is not in a saying or a practice, but in a moment.
The truth is that I feel angry with people who misrepresent themselves and disappointed in the people who fall for their falseness. The truth is I feel sad at the state of the world, and helpless and I feel an ever deepening sense of loneliness, and I feel lost (despite my searching) and I don’t have any answers for any of it.
The truth is I am not alone in feeling this way. I, like many others, spend so much time trying not to feel these things that I am incapable of actually connecting with anyone because it is based on a mutual agreement that there is something to be done about fear and apathy and disgust, and that is to not speak of it. To bury it alive, hoping that it will suffocate and cease to exist, but as this experience is no less real or accurate than the feeling of pure joy, that I have also very clearly felt, ultimately, I am killing myself.
Maybe this a good thing. Maybe releasing (as terrifying as it is) all attachments to experience – good and bad – is the liberation I seek. Almost 20 years into this practice I feel more lost, and somehow much closer at the same time, to truth. Maybe being lost is the truth. Accepting the pain and anguish alongside the beauty and splendor of life, and losing the meaning and identity we attach to it, in order to realize the unnameable, eternal energy of life. Maybe what Michael Stipes meant by losing my religion was actually losing my identity. That’s me in the corner, losing my need to define (and attempt to control) a reality that I am a part of but can never fathom with the same mind that separates me from it.