Nailed to the Cross of Life
I am continuing on with an idea that was presented in my last post, the idea of finding oneself unable to maintain control. About an hour after publishing the last post, while writing out the story of my pilgrimage in Southern France, I turned to Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart. I had taken the book with me on the pilgrimage and had taken opportunities to read little bits of it when I took rests along the trails I travelled. When I found the words I had underlined more than a month ago, I realised that the words belonged here as well for they spoke of the feeling and the state of being that had been uncovered.
“Each day we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we cant handle whatever is happening, It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel bad about ourselves. There’s no way we can manipulate the situation to make ourselves come out looking good. No matter how hard we try, it just won’t work. Basically, life has just nailed us.” (Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 13)
‘Life has just nailed us’ is a good way to put it. Life has hit us on the head and pointed us to the ultimate truths about ourselves and the illusion of our being able to control our own shadow to the point of denying its existence. As I found out, and as others continue find out, the shadow has a way of eluding our control.
It’s all about control, the illusion that one can control not only oneself, but also others and nature. Parents attempt to control adult children when they haven’t mastered how to control themselves. Husbands and wives try to control, mould their partners into some vague inner model which can’t be explained or held constant. Any slippage in one’s personal control is blamed on others or some undefined vagary of life in general. At all costs, the fault has to lie outside of oneself. To be caught in this illusion leaves one a bitter, angry and frustrated person. It is only when life nails us to our own cross that we can find an opening out of the illusion so that we can enter into reality. Sadly, not many will walk through that opening, choosing instead to deny, deny, deny.
Three times I had taken the wrong path, the path marked with crosses that indicated I was not to follow this path if I was to stay on the true path. Three times I walked until someone stopped me to tell me that I had erred. Thankfully, I listened and retraced my steps. I guess I was ripe to listen, to accept that I was fallible and lost. After the third time, it was my turn to open myself to listening to the inner voices that I had long denied, voices that tried to tell me that all that I had buried in the darkness and shadows.
It was time for me to accept all the shadows that helped define the reality of who I was. I thank the universe, life, for nailing me to my own cross where I could be held still long enough for the truth of who I was emerge.