I remember at one point last year in the isolation of the pandemic where the grief of my failed relationship and the acute sense of isolation felt unbearable.
There was one night where I rubbed my eyes and stared at this horrible racing game I had been playing for hours. My mouth felt stick and dry from the sugary cereal I’d been eating. Part of me wanted to trawl the internet for porn, but I knew that on some level would only give me a few moments of relief.
I wanted to sleep and forget about everything, but as soon as I’d tried to close my eyes the thoughts and feelings came flooding back.
I felt hopeless, life felt meaningless, and I wasn’t sure why I wanted to keep going.
This feeling of not being able to bear my life, emotions, and everything else that was happening was a familiar one. It was something I felt a fair amount of times in high school and even more in college.
For a long time I used pot to cope with these feelings to various levels of success. When I lived in the monastery the feelings were still there. I took it (just like everything else) into meditation and to interviews with the teachers. But despite years of meditation this feeling still existed in me.
It’s the feeling of not knowing how to go on.
It’s taken me a few years to recognize it, but this feeling almost always arises at the tectonic edge of two parts.
One part is an old way of being in the world. Some people call this part a survival mechanism, an old belief system, or a breakdown. I call it historical gravity.
It’s like this phantom limb that keeps grasping for some comfort it can no longer have.
The other part is the new way of being. Some people call this an essence, a higher self, or a breakthrough. I call it spiritual momentum.
When my historical gravity and spiritual momentum meet, it can feel like I’m getting squeezed in the middle. Very often the version of myself in that moment knows I have to keep going, knows that something needs to shift, knows I need to let go, but that same part of me also doesn’t know how to keep going, is unwilling and unable to shift, and feels like letting go will mean losing everything it ever cared about.
The pressure of this moment when it arrives is intense. It’s a moment that will make anyone long for escape. It’s this kind of moment that can drive a relapse into drugs, the reaching for meaningless sex, and even the desire to die.
If you don’t know how to go on, but you can’t stay where you are, what else is there to do?
THE LIE AT THE CENTER
The other thing I’ve learned is that this moment also has a lie at the center. The lie at the center of this moment is that it will last forever.
You will be forever caught between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.
Your survival mechanisms are trying to keep the old you alive, but that you can’t live in the environment you’re in anymore. And I think it’s why some people choose to jump out of a building (life) that’s on fire (in the midst of a tectonic call to change).
The problem is that the lie of this moment convinces us there’s no escape. And what I’ve learned is that there is ALWAYS an escape and that escape is found by sliding down the chute of time.
While these moments feel endless they always shift given time.
One plate (hopefully the future/more conscious plate) slides on top of the other. And the other plate (hopefully the past/less conscious plate) presses into the earth and gets turned into molten energy.
THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS !!! I know it may not seem like it’s going to. And trust me I’ve been CONVINCED that it won’t but it always does. This is the process of transformation, of deep and meaningful growth in life, but it rests entirely on a combination of two things:Pressure and time.
The feeling of total crisis, of spiritual death, that’s the pressure. So all you really need it to add time to the equation and you’ll be fine. Your life will shift, you will be able to become the thing life is demanding of you to become. It takes some time, but it will happen.