In a stream behind my eyelids was a long procession of the suffering, the sick screaming from their beds of torment, the homeless and starving stranded, the blasphemous drunks, all the failures with their heartbreaking cries, the dying drenched in the sweat of agony.
I could hear them clamoring from inside of my own walls, so I let go of my power over them and allowed tenderness to take me over in successive waves.
It was no longer only my weeping soul that left me surprised, it was all of humanity showing up in my thoughts, as the dazed and confused, “woe is me” multitude within myself disappeared into thin air.
In this immense valley, all I could see was a chalice overflowing with mist and sunlight. The high desert sagebrush whispered in harmony with the babbling bliss of the stream surrounding me. Spring bloomed everywhere with its little bouquets of love scattered all about, and off in the distance roamed the elephant in the room.
Now that I better understood the unique aspects of each and every being, their hidden and opened wounds, how each one, in the end deserves more commiseration than blame, I began to better understand myself.
Over the course of my visits to this stream in the past few days, I have been discovering with each visit that my actions, more than words, were teaching me how the bottomless pit of human suffering deserved compassion more than indifference.
I understood that one must be equally patient with everyone, including themselves, knowing that everything that had been heard—thoughts, opinions, projections, feelings—was inevitably subject to change, that brutality concealed fear, just as being aggressive covered up any weakness, and that for all of these thoughts, my own inherent contradictions had slipped out one by one, until finally making their way to the surface upon this stream of conscious.
From this height, it was no longer possible to be angry with those who took to being nasty: their nastiness was the cause and effect of their suffering. And it is on this level I stand, not just perched upon a chair with a pen in hand, as this has always been the vision He had hoped for humanity.
Every simple creation was moaning and this moaning was a warning to me: bliss would not be allowed as long as one human being was suffering in this life.
Sitting with my legs criss crossed under a weeping willow, I began to breathe even slower, calming myself into an even more contemplative state.
I had barely succeeded through trial and error: some parasitical thought always managed to cross my mind at the worst possible moment, as a biting horsefly buzzed its wings about my ears. I had to surprise the transformation of unexpected ideas, forgotten faces, and landscapes appearing from the deviations of old memories.
Fortunately by way of consolation, I thought of a lesson Christ once taught to the disciples: “If you practice just one-twelfth of what I have taught you, your salvation is guaranteed.”—although I had no clue as to what this one-twelfth of a fraction should be, although I have a pretty good feeling.
Perhaps, it could be a simple dedication to the imagery of these snowy Sierra Nevada mountains, the purple hue of sage and Spring grazing upon the valley floor. Or perhaps it is in remembering a quote that I hadn’t thought of in forever, “It is in You, You friend of the humble, that I find my only refuge.”
A CREATIVE REFUGE
But I had to escape physical refuge for the time being and so I gave up on time altogether. At exactly high noon, the sun passed through the summit, the valley suspended in darkness: it was night in the middle of day. The hours grew listless in this idleness. Sparing any and all effort, every gesture stood out in the social distancing of space with the same sharpness of budding foliage against the skies of tomorrow. Another quality of time such as this had emerged from the glaring absence of a schedule.
With my breathing as slow as the hours and days passing on end, I slipped into the universe, repeating in mini stature, the phases of expansion and retention. From the massive breath of silence I loomed over the futility of words.
A subtle modifying of my consciousness was taking place, the first signs of which appeared in my handwriting—I was keeping tabs on this journey—which suddenly, in itself, seemed so miniscule.
Without any resistance, I gave into myself as the angles of my personality began to round themselves out. No longer regarding me as an intruder, the wild beast within me understood that I was no more a threat, but a confidante.
A few grouse settled in the brush beside me, without any hesitation as to making their presence known. And while I had yielded completely to contemplation, a family of whistle pigs dutifully whistled my direction, as the elephant roamed even closer.
At the end of the intensity of these past few weeks, I began to savor a special quality of things that signal the emergence of another recipe for reality, of a transparency, the gustation of a serenity where the soul wanders wild and endlessly.
And in these weeks gone by, in the hazy hours where the foghorn of discouragement could have bellowed, everyday I find more comfort and renewed faith in the thoughts of the boundless inner wealth of each and every being.
It did occur to me however, that it might become too dangerous to continue this contemplative experiment of giving myself fully to this wild. My imagination, of course, made the first few attempts, risking its suggestions. Then I had to move around the over-processed feelings that someone had snuck into my isolation, and was prowling about my freedom.
It was then the mountains before me creaked and cracked, shaking the earth below my feet. I feared that a landslide of unforeseen circumstance would come hurtling down upon my state of mind.
Then came the stirring of soon-to-be insomnia, as I snacked on the last of my cookies, I wondered how I would fare—isolated in this valley so full of shadows—if ever I should have some sort of medical emergency arise.
I had drawn the story out in my head repetitively in short time, like caricatures of some spiritual conquest; the rising altitudes of the absolute replaced by the endless abyss, the raptures of bliss, of nocturnal terrors, mystical madness and mental illness, they all wrapped around me with the unraveling fabric of fear.
Strangely enough, and yet not soon enough, the fragrance of sage and Spring refilled the emptiness of my senses. And it seems as though through divine timing, my thoughts had refined themselves with finality.
THE SPOKEN TRUTH
In learning solitude, I have been in isolation for a long time. But to become fulfilled, man needs his creative purpose; it’s only later in life that he can withdraw to isolation, when he has the right to do so and his vocation has found solidarity.
In being taught that “nothing will come to pass until the right moment comes,” such solitary foolhardiness proves to be premature, exposing one to an upside-down life full of expectations, and for a long time I didn’t want to venture any further into my own depths for expected closure, but I had no choice in the matter.
I had, for too long, allowed my blossoming mentality to repeatedly follow the cycles of the seasons. It hasn’t been just a matter of a few years of precocious blossoming, with mentally sound flowers that blossom in the Spring, then wilted in the Fall, only to reopen the following Spring, but through the whole of my entire existence, for reasons I have yet to fathom.
However, the difference between the mind and a flower is that one starts over again from the same stem and repeats the same cycle, whereas the other, each time, departs from a rich understanding of past experience and sees that each new path is marked with the progress that came from the paths before.
But before I could truly sacrifice my ego, I had to acquire a new one, to construct and create it. I was at that creative crisis-ridden age that needed it for commencement and maybe it was the purpose of something rekindling my imaginative fire some time ago. It is why I believe I started writing again, because this commencement of change would lead to the cessation of who I was by entailing the shape and maturity of the man I am to become.
But before dying myself, I had to live in the throes of my childish self and my own creative stubbornness. I had to find a different kind of freedom. I had to see the city from a different angle, survey the landscape of life, blend in with everyone, as to eventually confront myself. Yes I did, I had to suffer and love, and just as much as to why I must, finally see this damn elephant out of the room.