On Saving Your Own Life – November 19, 2009
Yes, it’s a paradox. You’ve fallen into the wild knowing that the life you thought was ‘yours’, isn’t. It isn’t yours any more than the rise and fall of your overlooked breath. You are awake to your wild awakeness. Well, occasionally.
And yet the choices involved in being alive and healthy don’t go away. It’s a lie to assert that they do, and a trap to believe that they should. Every minute of every day choices are being made – in most cases, unconsciously. Patterns of conditioning are playing themselves out, tirelessly.
Wild awakeness – effortless awaring – has a knack of bringing robot-mind into focus. There’s a glimpse of the old reflexes groaning on.
And at that precise point a nanosecond window of opportunity opens – the story can change.
The ‘I’-stream, the lifestream, can flow in a fresh and unknown course.
(‘I’-stream? Lifestream? This language is being invented as writer-mind moves into ineffable territory. These terms imply something utterly non-personal. And yet wholly You.)
Life has no agenda other than its ongoing health, wellbeing and survival. It knows the score in these matters. And it knows when to withdraw its resources and start over. That can be pretty tough love.
But for those of us in whom Life still has an investment, the toughest love turns out to be Self-love. It scares us witless to ponder the ultimate unselfishness of Selfishness.
Yet Life has an awesome way of looking after itself once efforts to contain and control it are deconstructed. Notions that life needs saving act to build a mega dam across its path – a dam that generates dis-ease and stagnation.
The paradox is only apparent: whatever you choose – whatever – is the movement of Life as it branches, eddies, streams, dances, disappears underground, springs forth, tumbles, flattens out in depression, rages, murmurs, merges, evaporates … while it pretends to be You.
I wrote the post above almost six years ago. It was early on in the life of this blog – only a few months after the departure of the beloveds whose care and wellbeing had been the focus of my life for the better part of a decade. My health was in tatters. I was receiving treatment for chronic fatigue and was enduring the nightmare of paroxysmal vertigo and nausea. I was slowly learning how to look after ‘my own self’ again.
The vertigo revisited last weekend, severe enough to warrant a little holiday in hospital. On the other side of the experience, I marvel at the way these words remain as relevant as when they were penned. I’m reposting them to remind myself that “the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.” With the world spinning and the stomach heaving it’s easy to overlook the Shining Self. Yet it’s right here, whirling like a dervish, inviting me to release, relax, weep, disappear altogether into its subterranean womb – into Rio Abajo Rio – the great river beneath the river of the world.
In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes,
Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them.
I would add that we can also arrive there unintentionally, unexpectedly, delivered by grief or illness or any experience that knocks us out of our ‘normal’ sense of self, and that our arrival is always the necessary Grace for the deepening and widening of Love’s embrace of Itself: the ultimate Selfishness.
Image by Reuters from Google.