I used to be a little crazy. I don’t know how my poor heart managed to hold up as long as it did. Even if I frequently appeared sane, from somebody else’s unknowing perspective, I was truly crazy inside. Running at high gear in there, always in a hurry: worried, regretful, hell-bent on one thing or another, my mind going over and over (and over) a thing, repeating the loop traveled ninety seconds before, as if anything new might come of the manipulation of reality.
Bless my dear heart, and the heart of anyone similarly afflicted. Which is to say, humankind. Everyone means well. Nor can we imagine (I certainly couldn’t) there’s any option for it to be otherwise.
It turns out to be a gesture of enormous kindness not to work so hard to hold life at bay.
I was out of harmony with life. Thinking I could somehow be in control — not only of the future but of this very moment, already under way. (Talk about insane!) My innards were rigid with resistance, with the strain to exert control, to protect myself and those I loved. I was, like a once-living tree turned to stone, petrified.
It turns out to be a gesture of enormous kindness not to work so hard to hold life at bay. Not to process every little thing life hands you, but simply to be with it, as it is. To rest in it, even. To feel it (even when it hurts) as simply the way life feels right now. It is radically kind to self to not resist, to realize you just are not in control of most of what’s ahead, let alone anything that’s already here. To turn toward the truth of the absence of control and predictability, to be soft in the face of the unknowable, is to deeply rest. It’s to be gentle toward life, toward yourself. You’re at last enabled to feel the ongoing deliciousness of being alive (no matter how hard it may be at any given moment). The heart is able, after all the years of struggle, to do the sweet thing it was meant for, which is not to tense in fear or anger, but to love.
To be with life as it is is not only to be finally sane. The relinquishing of misspent attention and effort frees up all kinds of resources: energy, intelligence, creativity, curiosity, generosity, clarity. All things that live in us human beings, just awaiting space, expression. Only we generally wall off these things behind the rigid structures of belief and the desire to control. We are walled off from our very selves.
It’s no wonder we’re walled off from one another. No wonder we take refuge in the false relief of substances and what passes for entertainment, all the escape hatches people resort to. No wonder we have trouble holding still, relaxing into what’s there when we allow quiet to come. There’s so much in the way. And we put it there! God, what does it take to come to terms with that? Life didn’t “do it” to us — to me. As long as we cling to that cherished belief (on which all our suffering depends), the craziness is doomed to continue to define our lives.
All because we ache to be at peace. Little do we imagine — little did I — that the longed-for rest, and even joy, comes not of trying to manipulate life, or ourselves, but from relaxing into this moment, as it is given. Sane at last. Glad to be in this life, this world, imperfect though it may be.Jan Frazier