The process of recovery has led me to living in the present moment. I have slowed down the planning, scheming monkey mind and wonder what place hope has now.
When my life was spiralling out of control, I had two choices: either sink under the anger and depression that threatened to engulf me or surrender to the reality of my situation.
When I was unable to get out of bed, I wrote this:
“She believed the lie she had been told for most of her life. Be a good girl, work hard, put others first, do your best. Her whole life was built around this lie. She had tried hard to secure her place in the world, to secure their love.
She hid her sadness, her aloneness, her sense of being different and tried to fit in. She presented her happy, helpful, perfectly made-up face to the world as she had been taught to do.
But, one day, a cold wind of change blew through and uprooted her carefully constructed life.
She raged against this injustice “Why me?” she cried. “I don’t deserve this!”, “I always tried so hard”.
Day after day, she tried to rebuild her life. She had all the tools: yoga, meditation, counsellors and advisors, the latest spiritual books. Her constant mantra: “I must try harder”.
But try as she might, she could not go on. Every time she smiled and said, “I am fine, thanks” was another lie. Every downward dog she pushed herself into an affront to her fragile soul.
On the very day she gave up striving, she thought she heard a song. At first, she caught only the softest grace note, but as she began to slow down and listen, she heard the tantalising snippets of an ancient, long-forgotten melody.
“You are loved, just as you are.”
“Nothing to do, nothing to strive for.”
And finally, the one that made the ears of her soul prick up: “Relax and enjoy”.
She took to her bed, unwilling to get up until she had understood. She thought she was going mad, hearing voices in the wind. She decided even madness would be preferable to the constant striving. She wanted to know the truth.
She noticed the light streaming through her bedroom window, the breeze causing the branches on the trees to dance. She saw the birds gliding effortlessly through the sky, the buds on the cherry blossom tree that always appear at Easter. She watched it happening, without effort.
She breathed in and out, and as tears poured down her cheeks, she realised she was being breathed. Each breath was a gift she did nothing to earn.
For the first time, in a lifetime spent trying to achieve, she notices it is enough to lie on her back and watch herself being breathed, watch the trees being blown, the birds being flown, the buds being born.
It is all there is.
It is enough.”
As time passed I was able to get up and slowly, slowly, slowly by listening to my body and the whispers of my soul rebuild my life.
Poet Ntozake Shante wrote:
” I found god in myself
And I loved her
I loved her fiercely”
So, what now, of hope?
A year ago, all my hopes were to be well, to have energy, to get back to my teaching career. All hopes involving pushing myself toward a future imagined by my mind.
I no longer have such hopes. This morning, I am unable to locate any feeling of hope for anything that is not already here.
I cannot control anything in myself or in the world. Everything happens without my consent!
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13
“These three remain
Faith, hope and love
The greatest of these is love”
Perhaps this is the spiritual journey. First, faith in an external God who will save the day, changing us and our world, sorting out the mess we have made.
Then hope, that situations will improve, that we will somehow become the ones we know we could be. And, finally, love, for all of it, for the world in all its beauty and horror, for ourselves and others, in all our messy perfect imperfection.