When I look at the world sometimes, I feel it’s unbearable to live on this planet. I suppose due to my human wiring, I am predisposed to feelings of sadness, negative thinking, and addiction to suffering. It’s a personality thing, it’s a human animal thing. When I draw back my curtains and log onto the news, the world smashes into me with its wars, famines, viruses and coral bleaching. It slashes with paper cuts of dry remarks and hurtful comments. My inner world a wasteland, it looks outside for confirmation and finds it. A vicious cycle thus ensues and, in the meantime, the darkest demon of them all: INERTIA.
A bleak and horrid sprawling suburb in exile from the land of Soul, like a virus spreading recklessly across my globe, I crawl into an uninspired grey box of exhaustion. Bleh. No chirping birds, no bubbling brooks, solely exploding petrochemical plants releasing noxious fumes into the atmosphere. How the mind can cloud the bluest of skies. How I carve myself out of a seamless background, and create enemies to justify defending this smallness I call ‘me’.
It’s biological, it’s evolutionary. It’s the way our cultures told us it is, it’s the way civilization currently operates around here. If you don’t see yourself this way, if you don’t operate this way, consider yourself lucky. The evidence from where I sit sees a majority that, ultimately, finds life in the present moment extremely dissatisfying.
Yet even for me, there are moments of attention breaking free from this bondage of a little neurotic frightened person, into a vaster space – an infinite space – of possibility, of freshness, of daily miracles.
Just now, for example, as I am writing this in the back yard, a red admiral butterfly lands a few feet away from me, only a few inches away from the dog who is chewing her ball. Both Roux and I look at it silently for a moment as it flaps its wings open – revealing striking colours – and then closed again.
Uncanny, how the orange and black of the wings matches Roux’s ball exactly, while the brownish black and white is the exact same shade as Roux herself! I feast my eyes on this perfect composition for a still moment, and suddenly the butterfly flies away, causing Roux’s ears to perk up in surprise.
I take a deep breath, and draw in Spring’s first shy smile of warm breeze and distant opening buds.
What wonders do I miss when I close my heart to life?
It has been one of those close-hearted couple of weeks, and I have felt very much like battle-weathered Menelaus, who was kept by the gods from reaching home after the Trojan war. I too have caught and pinned down the prophet god Proteus, so he can tell me whom I have offended, because I want to make things right and find my way back to peace of mind and being. Proteus isn’t having it of course – he’s been shape-shifting swiftly, morphing into many different forms. Because I am no brave soldier with strong arms and firm hold, he keeps slipping from my grasp, leaving me angry and dejected.
But spring is almost here. Perhaps like me this old sea-god is winter-weary and tired, ready for new growth. I relax my grip and let him go completely, and watch him turn first into a great big roaring sea lion and, with a yawn, back into himself. Look here: skin crusty with barnacles, beard matted in tangles of seaweed.
I cozy up to him, regard him sweetly and stroke his knotty beard. We get to chatting about the weather, life Underwater, the names of his seal companions.
After a while, like Parsifal of old, I enter my heart and ask the old man: “What ails thee, Father King?”.
Right then, a red admiral alights on the ground a few feet away from me, only a few inches away from the dog who is chewing her ball. Both Roux and I look at it silently for a moment as it flaps its wings open – revealing striking colours – and closes them again. I feast my eyes on this perfect composition for a still moment, and suddenly the butterfly flies away, causing Roux’s ears, and my heart, to perk up in surprise. And from her flutter, colours spill across the yard and into this life and world; the kingdom once again restored and Home, finally Home.