Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Lately reports of things "falling apart" have come into my experience. Not only from the news, though there's certainly plenty of it there. I'm thinking, rather, of a book titled "When Things Fall Apart" by the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. And I'm thinking of my daughter Lauren's yoga class opening note on what happens in times of "hopeless desperation" --things fall apart . . . Ocean Vuong, a poet, speaks of the violence in our language, and (this is my spin) how our experience is both expressed and shaped by it. Another version of integrity crumbling.
Things falling apart in our culture, our bodies, our lives . . . Lots to think about when fractured things seem to find us, whether in language or in experience.
I've started to practice giving up. Or maybe "surrendering" is a better word.
Yesterday, for instance. I stood in the pasture for the longest time next to Dorian not doing anything. Just listening. Not expecting anything. Not hoping for anything. Just being there, listening to him munch on the grass, stomp at a few flies.
Earlier, on a ride out back, I listened to other things-- the wind ruffle the century oak at the bottom of the long hill. The one that towers over me as we ride beneath it and through which a form of incredible clarity arrives via the blue sky.
I practiced not expecting a miraculous revelation. I tried just to settle into the saddle and let Dorian pick out his route, avoiding the gullies and soft mud at the trough bottoms.
I've found when I push too hard, when I react to things, when I feel overly responsible for my life, my affairs, or the chaos that seems to surround me, I bring that into focus rather than what's healing and more deeply true.
Dorian and I have been on so many trails. So many paths leading . . . somewhere, often to places of challenge or illumination. Sometimes leading simply to peace. To a place where the literal and unseen life-force surrounds and flows through all things. Those moments haven't arrived due to me wiling it so. And the paths to them are rarely straight.
We've also been through many, many trials . . . learning patience. Learning resilience and trust.
We've braved our way through innumerable obstacles.
So now, when we're facing a new set of challenges--Dorian and I, and you and your life, our country and its life--we have a choice. We can raise conscious awareness violently. We can struggle, we can speak the language of anger through harm, destruction, or denigration. Wear a mask, be weak. Burn a building, be strong . . . .
Peema Chodron talks about hopelessness. People who love her book think of that as a good thing, that surrendering to what they term the "fact" that our existences will never quite "arrive" at a place of security or certainty, is a good thing. That accepting we'll always be "falling apart" is somehow a wise thing.
I choose to surrender, yes. But not to that.
"It is in these times of pain, loss, confusion, that we weave something profound in ourselves." A quote my daughter, Lauren, shared in her recent yoga class.
Dorian has repeatedly required me to come back to myself, to discover, explore, and embrace that person. To know a sort of peace for which there is no language. One that permeates everything and from which everything true arises. It resides all around us all the time--a place of harmony and order, one where, when we arrive there, all creation shifts into light.
That's what I choose to surrender to. Not what I think is the dangerous and debilitating view of ourselves or life itself, as a continual uphill battle we struggle through only to slide back into some form of chaotic darkness. A constant form of things falling apart to be intermittently and temporarily pieced back together.
Looking into Dorian's eyes and out on the world he inhabits I know there's a flaw at the heart of that.
So yes, we need to be alerted to what needs changing--in ourselves and in our culture. But what's true to me is that if we'll surrender in quietness and confidence to what lies below mere appearance--as Lauren's concluding remarks point out--these dark times will weave something astonishing and profound in us.
I've seen it. I know it. I'm holding to that . . . for us all.