You were on a path once. You could feel it.
It felt like a constant state of growth—that seemed to parallel what your body was doing, but this growth was intangible. It was also fun and incredible.
You were progressing, not quickly, but steadily. Clicking once or twice a year, clicking something in your head together with something in your mind or heart, clicking like your soul was passing markers on the path itself and this was how it was to let you know you were still on the track.
Then something happened. The clicking seemed to stop. No more amazing coincidences, no more dizzying deja vu, no more deeply surprising yourself in a positive way, no more feeling like a kid again on Christmas morning. Or at least not hardly any more.
Something happened to distract you long enough that you forgot about the path. Not entirely, but you were distracted long enough that the next time you remembered it, you had forgotten what it felt like. You had forgotten how sense seemed to radiate off of it into the most random actions of your every day.
And with that distance from the path, and with that loss of feeling, you lost other things as well. You lost that hunger, that vital craving that seemed to feed on vitality and give it right back instantly. You lost some of your passion and the brightness of your smile. You lost that inherent desire (inherent so long as you can feel the path) for that next step, the next click, amazing movie, great love, inspiring book, or deep meaningful conversation, all of which once pooled together in a crystal clear pond of sense that once reflected you, perfectly.
Or so it seemed. Until something happened. Until something happened to distract you and make you look away from that Pool of Sense, so that by the time you looked back, so much doubt and distance and ugliness had fallen into the simple beautiful thing you once cherished as your life. So much senselessness had slipped in that you were not mindfully cleaning out and it muddied the waters, made them choppy instead of smooth. So much so that when you leaned over and looked into it (like you always used to), you couldn’t even see yourself anymore. You couldn’t even feel yourself anymore. But the last time you truly felt like that carefree, powerful self was so long ago that…you have no point of relativity. You have no point of reference, no point of comparison.
Too much distance makes the heart grow very forgetful.
So while what you see and what you don’t see in that pool now should horrify you, it does not. It seems instead to fit the rest of the scenery you were looking at just minutes before. Instead it seems to be expected. And it dimly feels as though you have crossed the point of no return.
Once this was not true. Once you…expected more. For yourself, and from yourself. From your own reflection even. Believed in more, Desired more, knew constantly what MORE felt like, tasted liked and smelled like. You felt it between your legs. You saw it in every chance encounter that led to something new. And you tasted it with every bite of his or her loving skin. This was true. This was real. But it is only as real as the path is present in your mind. In your existence. In your perception of your life. As soon as you stop seeing…you inevitably stop believing. And it seems as though you stopped seeing oh so long ago.
Does this explain anything to you about how you are now? Can you use these words as so many shovels to dig and dig and dig the dirt out of your pool, so that you might glimpse and remember what you were like—and therefore what LIFE was like—before? Before, when you were clearly you.
Now your life is all about “Work That…” and “Study this…” (don’t forget the wife and kids) and the constant STRUGGLE to keep it all afloat. Now you’re no longer worried about the path— “Who has time for THAT? Such Nonsense really! …what I have is good enough.”—now you have diligently dedicated and devoted all the time and energy you can to keeping your laborious life from capsizing. From drowning. From breaking amongst the craggy waves. And you believe in that cause, as you should. It is a good cause. Sanity and success are commendable qualities in any one person, particularly according to the society you live in. But the terrible irony is that none of that has to be a struggle.
The word struggle need never come upon your lips or mind. None of it has to be a bracing of yourself against the might of the world. It could be smooth sailing. It could be clear skies. It could be calm seas. Or it could even be a dance. From here on out. If you would JUST PUT YOUR MIND BACK ON THE PATH. If you would just dig all the gravel and rock, all the mud and filth out of your pool where everything used to make sense and life felt more like swimming than fighting an entire ocean. If you would just do that….everything, truly everything would become easier, more satisfying and even less mysterious and disheartening.
IF WHAT YOU HAVE IS GOOD ENOUGH THEN YOU SHOULD NOT BE STRUGGLING SO MUCH STILL! It makes the heart of the world hurt when you say that your vision of the world is good enough and yet you do not see joys and wonders 100 times a day. It hurts the world's heart when you see poetry in NOTHING unlike Rumi, Khayyam, Longfellow or Gibran who saw poetry in everything.
No matter how much darkness is still out there, there is endless amounts of light. Light that will make you feel better. And when you focus your being all on that, you will find that not only have your struggles lessened, but you seem to be bringing more joy into the world….and the darkness around you begins to slowly, slowly dissipate.
This is the irony of the world. This is the irony of your whole life. The fact that the path SEEMS like a luxury for those who don’t have the “responsibilities and troubles” you have, but in fact it is the fortune. It is the greatest source of everything you say you need: time, energy, passion, joy, love, laughter, communion. It is full of all those things and more.
You remember don’t you? You remember when you used to laugh like that? Like that was the funniest thing you’ve ever heard or saw, and yet….you laughed like that again just two days later. How could you laugh so much so often? How did your neck not get tired of throwing your head back and letting out that awe-full sound?
Those days might be behind you, but what made those days POSSIBLE is NOT LOST. Not even close. It has all just been forgotten. It has been buried in the muck that you call your day to day reality. And maybe everything in your life is fine. Maybe everything is A-okay. And you smile enough, and you’re happy enough and you don’t really have any complaints. How often do you look back though?
How often do you see the pictures of yourself from then or recall a memory of absurd pleasure? Can you see a difference? Can you feel now, at any time, exactly what you felt then? Or is something different?
OH! You think you just grew up, right? You think you just got older and more mature and wiser to boot. Well, good for you. I wonder why it is then that some of the wisest and oldest men and women in human history were so full of laughter and joy. So full of….spirit and poetry. So much so that their spirit seemed to spread out and their life lived on despite all the hardships they might have faced, even despite death. I guess they just didn’t know what life was like back then. How hard it could all be compared to yours now.
The point is this. Unless you are just as happy and joyful as you were in high school, as you were in college, as you were before marriage, as you were BEFORE that “something happened,” then you CAN get that back. ALL OF IT. You can return to that now. You can return to that WITHOUT GOING BACK. You can find whatever it was that made you that way then, AND pull it forward to where you are today. Recreate it. This is possible. There is no need for doubt or belief. It is simply possible.
All you have to do is start to remember. Start putting the pieces of what you were like back then when you were at that pinnacle of yourself back in place, back on a visible shelf of your mind. Start reading through old love letters, start pulling the dusty boxes out of your closet. All the things you’ve been burying for years, so that you may find it all again someday and treasure it like treasure. I assure you, many pieces that should be present in your mind are not, but they are not afar.
Start reconfiguring and realigning with how you used to think and how you used to speak and how you used to interact with people you know and strangers alike. Back when you were THAT happy and “free.” Start there, and don’t stop until you have all those pieces back in your head.
What will you see?
Hopefully you will see a CLEAR, complete image of how you were before. How much that will help depends on how clear and how complete the image is. If it is startlingly clear, then do not be surprised if you are startled. Startled in reaction. Startled into ACTION. Startled into Creation of How you used to be….on the inside. It may seem as though many of those qualities were dependent on…certain friends, a certain love interest, where you lived, your lack of bills or how naïve you were, but for the most part, they are not. For the most-part—the part you need and wish to be reconnected with most—those attributes of your former self were just dependent on how you felt! And how you feel at any time can be dramatically affected by…whether or not you feel the path. Which can be dramatically affected by how well you keep your Pool of Sense clear and free of debris.
You should know that there are instruments at your disposal to help you clean your pool. Many of them. Most certainly many of you have picked up many of them and thrown them away for no good reason, just as the saying implies. But again, just like that joy and laughter you used to feel, you can get them all back whenever you desire. They are practically at hand now.
Imagine trying to solve a Rubik’s cube by looking from only one angle. Both you and it are locked in place, only the pieces can be shifted, somewhat blindly.
This is what some of you are trying to do with your whole lives, not to mention with the ideas you started building yourself upon, after “something happened.”
Needless to say, things have gotten twisted. The puzzle, somewhat complex already, has become seemingly impossible, and the more you play with it the further you FEEL from the solution, whether you are or not. This breeds hopelessness. This is not good. It is not good for you, it is equally not good for the world because you are not alone. You are one of many. You are one of millions all standing there, immovable, with a puzzle you are trying to solve with such limited information (i.e. perception). This is why it is easier for you to look over and help other people solve their problems (two angles are better than one!) than it is for you to hover, fixed in place, and solve your own.
It does not have to be this way. That vibrant enthusiasm you used to have for the slightest things—whether it be other people’s birthday parties or turning that song on the radio up so loud!—can be yours again. And that time, that brief time, when all your thoughts, feelings, words and actions all seemed to line up and…work as one. Play as one. Pray as one. See as one. Dream and create as one. That time can be now and here all over as well. All over, here and now, once again for you. All you have to do is mind the path.
May you feel the truth of these words, may they ring for you as they have for others for whom THIS bell has tolled.