There are a lot of very angry people expressing their rage on Twitter and Facebook right now. Why? Because they are craving the distractions that take up time and constitute or substitute for LIFE. They are stuck at home with not much to do but think and lament and pace and drive themselves mad for lack of activity.
They want someone to direct them, lead them to the promised land of avoidance but who has the map?
There was a function and purpose in the ancient practise of spending time in the wilderness. There is a function and purpose in practises like Vipassana where one is forced into silence for an allotted number of days. These periods of reconnection were choices but Coronavirus has forced everyone into the desert with nothing but our minds and souls for company.
And what do we find there? Who do we meet?
People spend entire lifetimes running away from themselves because who we are is wanting. Who we are is never enough. Who we are will not save us from the wolf that prowls and howls and echoes our self-loathing. But now we are locked in with the wolf we would do well to tame it or at least, feed it. The wolf will navigate the wild parts of your soul, the part of you that looks at stars and wonders, the part of you that looks into a lake and remembers, the part of you that hears the voice of Nature and understands, the part of you that urbanity has suffocated and warped into compromise.
Now in the time of Coronavirus you have the chance to reconnect with your true self and decide who you want to be. If you dare.
But first we must all deal with our addictions.
Addiction is a process of reliance. It creeps up on you and eventually recalibrates your soul. Things that once had no importance have now enslaved you in dependence – dinner on Friday nights with friends, going to the club on Saturday afternoons for gambling with mates, meeting friends at a wine bar every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night, breakfast with besties on Tuesday mornings, jogging every morning at 5am, bench-pressing weights at the gym every Monday night, working for a corporation whose CEO you’ve never met and obsessing about how you can make more money for him/her, planning your life all the way to the grave. Never looking up at the stars or into a lake or stepping outside the routines that have caught you in a sticky interlacing web.
All gone now. And what are you left with? Time and yourself. And at first it feels as if you are falling into an abyss. You have no idea what to do with yourself or how to be or what to think. If not about money and having fun then what?
Here’s the map. First, who are you? Or who were you before life reprogramed you? What did you want to be when you were a child? What delighted you? What did you dream of being? What were the pulses and drives that informed your soul?
Sometimes these answers are too painful to contemplate because you realise you have drifted so far from your innocence. If so, let it go. Let it all go and stand in emptiness for a while and wait. You’re not falling. You’re not dying. You’re just beginning to live authentically.
So, returning to this epidemic of rage on Twitter and Facebook and analysing it. People are terrified of change and they know it’s coming, like a tidal wave it is gaining height and momentum and the impact will wash away the existing structures. Is there any point clinging to your raft and defying the descending forces? No. But people are terrified of losing the constructs that define them and keep them unconscious. They will do anything to avoid re-imagining life. They want the life that has been encincturing generations for centuries. They want the routines that preclude involvement and effort. They do not want to create anything new because NEW means they have to trust themselves and most people don’t even know themselves let alone how to trust themselves. Rather than strike out alone most people would rather congregate in institutions like work and religion that impose ideologies and regulate behaviour.
Religion means people don’t have to strive for authentic connection with God or whatever they see as God. They prefer to join crowds in prayers and chants and cants that become addictive and hysterical with repetition. I have seen hysteria in church services and it’s both sad and frightening because it flags addiction and the inevitable clawing hunger that follows when the “high” wears off.
Work is another form of hysteria when it becomes a fierce competition to make as much money as you humanly can in as little time. Watch the feverish endeavour to close a deal and remember the zealotry of religious fervour and now look at a gambler’s desperation or and an addict’s comatose high.
It ALL looks the same.
Life is not addiction. Life is quiet reverence and the steady pursuit of excellence in a field that engages you body, mind and soul.
I have worked with addicts and watched their agony as they try to free themselves cold turkey. Some have succeeded. Some have failed. Now ALL of us are positioned to free ourselves from our addictions cold turkey. We have no choice. We must re-evaluate our lives and find a way of being that does not sever connection with our true selves.
Bannered over the gate at the temple of Delphi were these words: KNOW THYSELF.
Most of us don’t know who we are without our striving and our routines. This is our chance. Coronavirus is a great gift if we use the time wisely. It’s also a very painful process for many. Time alone with ourselves is the one thing every addict will tell you they don’t want. Sobriety reveals all the dreams that were planned and abandoned along the way and it’s too painful for most people. It takes courage.
Why do we work? Why do we want money? Answer those two questions honestly and you will see who you really are and how to find your way home.
It’s OK to be poor. It’s OK to be old. It’s OK to be a failure. It’s all OK.
You are so much more than your job, your body, your friends, your possessions, even your soul. You are so much more. You don’t even need to BE so much more. You already are. You are alive. You breathe. You think. You live. You observe. You create. You love. You feel. You crave meaning. You are a miracle and it is enough that you remember that.
Look at the stars. Do you think they should be more? Or different? They are and it is enough.
Look at yourself and marvel at the fact of your being. That is the map out of addiction. What you do next, where you go, with whom and why is your choice. Just remember life can be reimagined now. It can be different from anything you’ve ever known. You do not need to entangle yourself in the old routines if you don’t want to. Live and engage with life authentically. You will never get a better opportunity than this to remake your life and ensure it has value.
I draw much of my solace from Nature in whom I invest my hope and my wonder. Do Nature spirits exist and if so, what are they and what is their purpose? Many cultures believe absolutely in the existence of Nature spirits and some people claim to have seen them. When I walk in the forest or by the sea or through a garden I feel a sentience. I am not sure if I separate this from the lifeforce of Nature or whether I am feeling the souls of Nature spirits. I don’t care much. The pulse of life in the world around me and its absence of neurosis gives me hope that humanity can also restore its sanity. We have so much to be proud of and admire in our accomplishments over the centuries and it is comforting and inspiring to spend time marvelling at works of human genius if only to remind ourselves of human sentience at its best.
I don’t believe that people who only make money are to be admired. Give them a chisel and a block of marble and see what they can do. If anything.
I am weary of the bleating of billionaires who are nothing without their money. I am tired of living in their world and listening to the dull booming of their toneless orchestrations. Life is more than money and mindless occupation. Find it within.
In this silence listen for the song of your soul and the song of the stars.