We use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way…
Inside the huge Romanesque church the tourists jostled in the half darkness.
Vault gaped behind vault, no complete view.
An angel with no face embraced me
and whispered through my whole body:
“Don’t be ashamed of being human, be proud!
Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly.
You will never be complete, that’s how it’s meant to be.“
Blind with tears
I was pushed out on the sun-seething piazza
together with Mr and Mrs Jones, Mr Tanaka, and Signora Sabatini,
and inside them all vault opened behind vault endlessly.
Tomas Transtromer, Romanesque Arches
More thoughts inspired by the desert, a place where we notice our thirst. As the original story tells us: “Tormented by thirst, they complained to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out into the desert?’ “. We try to quench this thirst in numerous ways. However, the Buddhist tradition tells us that we need to come to a direct and felt understanding of a basic truth of human nature, which is the ultimately unsatisfactory nature of the contingent realities we encounter every day:
Desire full stop is always the desire of the Other.
It’s crucial for all of us to find a practice that will help us have a direct relationship with groundlessness,…a practice that will enable us to touch in with the transitoriness of our thoughts, our emotions, our car, our shoes, the paint job on our house. We can get used to the fleeting quality of life in a natural, gentle, even joyful way, by watching the seasons change, watching day turning to night, watching children grow up, watching sand castles dissolve back into the sea. But if we don’t find some way to make friends with groundlessness and the ever-changing energy of life, then we’ll always be struggling to find stability in a shifting world.
Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully
photo Karl and Ali
Stay with the feeling in the body. Don’t advance into proliferating a story. Don’t retreat into denying the sense of hurt.
Not advancing, not retreating,
Not real, not empty.
There is an ocean of bright clouds.
There is an ocean of dark clouds.
Dogen, 1200 – 1253
photo Nicolas A. Tonelli
not by securing yourself against impermanence,
but by finding yourself as impermanence
Michael Stone, Awake in the World
Our cat Barney who died on Tuesday, aged 19
The start of the season of Lent – an interior simplification and going into the desert. Seeing what is essential through a letting go of some of the distractions and non-essentials in our lives:
I like to ask one of the questions I have found most useful in setting intentions and making choices: Where does the energy want to go now? I ask this question and sit with the sense of the life-force within. . . . following my breath, letting go of my to-do lists and all the things I think I “should” get to. . . .and every time- if I am willing – I get a sense of where the energy that is manifest in this one small human life, is drawn. This isn’t a passive exercise – it’s not “just” about “going with the flow.” It’s discerning where our essential being is drawn, what holds meaning and mystery for us now, and then coming into alignment with that flow to take actions, make choices, offer what we are to the world
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
photo tiia monto