Adventure of the Soul

We each have our own path to walk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a true adventure of the soul.

Advertisements
It is said that while on the quest for the Holy Grail, King Arthur and the knights of his round table each entered the forest of adventure in different places. They chose the points in the forest that were the darkest, that scared them the most, and that didn’t have a previous path for them to follow.

They didn’t do this as a misplaced show of machismo, or as a competition of manliness. They didn’t do it to prove something to themselves, or to the other knights.

They did this because they knew. They knew that even though they were on a quest in search of the same prize, and they were on that quest together, they still had to walk their own paths. They each had their own lessons to learn.


if-the-path-before-you-is-clear-youre-probably-on-someone-elses

The same applies to us. We’re all searching for the same thing, and we must all enter the dark forest of the psyche to find it. Some of us are going to take that journey together, some of us will take it alone, and some won’t take it at all. We each have our own path to walk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a true adventure of the soul.

As we relentlessly swing our machetes to carve a path through the forest, we’ll uncover fears and experience hardships. We’ll face death and demons, and we’ll gaze into the darkest parts of ourselves. But in the deepest and most terrifying part of that journey, we’ll find the treasure that we seek.

So choose that dark and scary place to start your quest, and I’ll meet you in the woods.

Be good to each other,

~MG

Featured image courtesy of 123hdwallpapers.com

A Letter to My Father:

My last Echoes post is for Father’s Day! A Letter to my dad.

Dear Dad,

I’m in my late twenties. I’m not even done with school yet. I have absolutely no idea about so many things in my life. Like where I might be living in a year from now. Hell, I’m not even sure about the continent I’ll be on. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing or who I’ll be doing it with. I’m still learning about myself and how I relate to this world. In many ways, I’m still a kid.

And then I think about the fact that at my age, you already had three young kids to raise. One of them was your only son, a crazy little bastard named Michael, who had the same amount of energy and caused the same amount trouble as an entire classroom of children his age.

I’ve realized how scary that must have been for you. You were still trying to find a career, and trying to find yourself. You were still trying to figure out who you were as a man, as a husband, and how you were gonna make things work financially for you and mom. Then, all of sudden, you were trying to figure out who you were as a parent to three young babies who relied on you.

dad
Just a couple guys trying to figure out if neon and/or pastel colours worked with our skin tone.


Today, I think it’s become almost common for kids to grow up blaming and criticizing their parents. I know I was one of those children and, at some point, I think all of us are. But now I realize how absolutely ridiculous that is.

Imagine if when people were learning a new sport, or musical instrument, or how to cook, we judged them in the same way as some of us judge our parents.

It doesn’t matter how many online videos someone has watched on the technique of skating, we expect them to fall many times the first time they lace up those skates and hit the frozen pond.

It doesn’t matter how many books someone reads on playing the piano, none of us would realistically expect someone to jump behind those keys and start playing Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor. So why do we expect perfection, or anything close to it, from our parents?

No matter what it is that you’re doing in life, nothing will ever prepare you for the actual learning experience. You’re going to stumble along the way. Mistakes are essential to learning. We’re all just learning as we go. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.

Every parent is at a different place in his or her life, and every parent has a different capacity for parenting.


Trying to stand in the shoes you were wearing at my age has shown me just how special you are. I know you beat yourself up sometimes about your early days as a dad, but today I want to acknowledge you for just how amazing you actually are, and how great you were for me as my father.

You supported me in every conceivable way. I never went without anything I ever needed. Even if you had a complaint or two about the price of something I asked for, I honestly don’t have a single memory of anything you didn’t give me that I truly wanted. You never let me down.

You worked some insane hours to support your family and still always made it to the important moments in my life. You were at every big game, graduation, departing flight, birthday, and religious event that I experienced. You have no idea how much that meant to me, even if I didn’t really understand it then. I definitely understand and appreciate it now.

I have absolutely no idea how you did it. You might not of been ready. You probably weren’t ready. But you pulled your boots up and you chose to be a father. Because, at the end of the day, parenthood is a choice. I think it’s time I acknowledge the choice you made to be in my life. The amount of bravery, love, and kindness that it took is beyond words.



I think relationships between parents and children would vastly improve if we all just acknowledged our parents for that
simple choice they make to be our parents. They didn’t need to choose us. They didn’t have to stay, or to keep us. But they did. Even though they weren’t truly ready for it.

If we acknowledge that, in the same way it was our first experience being someone’s child, it was our parent’s first experience being someone’s mom or dad, we might start seeing things a little differently. 

We made mistakes as we grew older and wiser, why would we expect anything less from our parents?


You are an amazing man. Even now, at my age, I still know you won’t let me down. We’re gonna have our fights. Sometimes we’re gonna bump our thick Italian heads. You’re still learning what it means to be a dad and I’m still learning what it means to grow up.

But I know you’re in my corner, and you know what? You’ll always be the guy I want in my corner. If I ever find myself in the 12th round taking a beating from life, you’re the voice I want to hear yelling over my shoulder to keep fighting

You didn’t quit on me, or my sisters. You didn’t quit on your family. There’s no one else in the universe I would rather call dad, and I have a strange feeling there’s no one else out there who was supposed to be my father.

I love you, and I miss you!

Your crazy little bastard,

~ Michael

Stop Holding Yourself Back:

There are two painfully self-restricting words we humans have a habit of using too much. I hear them all of the time.

“I should.”


Anytime we use those words, there is some form of self restriction at play. We’re applying a sense of duty, of honour, of what’s expected of us, of guilt, of shame, of caution, or a lack of confidence to our decisions. We think we should study medicine because our parents have high hopes for us. We don’t think we should quit our job because we’re not sure if we can make our dreams work. We should push away loved ones because we don’t feel deserving or worthy of it. We shouldn’t take a chance because it might not work out.

Every time we use the word should, a story is being repeated to ourselves. Ones we learned from teachers, parents, mentors, friends, and celebrities. Stories of the status quo. Stories that were meant to keep you safe, but actually keep you feeling small and afraid.

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should have a code. Everyone should know and keep their own boundaries. But there is a difference between healthy boundaries and self imprisonment.

But the word “should” is one that is much better used to free yourself of your own prison, rather than keep yourself in chains.

You should open your heart to love, because you deserve that special someone who loves and cherishes you. You should chase than dream, because you were born to do just that. You should quit that job sucking the life out of you, because you deserve happiness in this life.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Cover photo courtesy of bahaiteachings.org.

On Women:

Men think. A lot. Sometimes, thinking too much doesn’t allow much room for feeling.

When we’re sick or something is broken, we try to figure out the problem. We look at the issue systematically. What’s broken? What can we use as a replacement? How do we fix it? Finally, after identifying the cause of the issue, we decide on a solution.

Eventually, depending on the problem, we buy new brake pads, take some antibiotics, or smash twelve shots of whiskey and put an irresponsible bet on the number six horse. Just like that, the problem is solved. The brakes aren’t screeching anymore, our head cold is gone, or we blew off the steam we needed to blow off – even if we lost our rent money for the week in the process.

When we relate to women, our problems start when we try to approach issues in the same way. When we try to force our way of doing things onto the women we love.


Picture this;

We have plans with her in the evening. When we arrive at her house, we’re instantly aware that she’s in a shitty mood. She’s wearing a permanent frown and won’t speak to us. We watch as the storm brews inside of her. The room goes dark with her anger. We’re a bit put off by the entire situation. There’s something repulsive about her wrath. An ancient piece of ourselves is a little afraid at the dreadful power of our wild woman.


What’s HER problem? We think as we immediately go into problem fixing mode. Like virtually every other problem in our lives, we assume there is a single problem we can find and fix to make this situation better.

We think and think and think, but can’t come up with anything. We don’t know what we said, or did, or didn’t say, or didn’t do that caused this issue. What’s worse is, no matter how much we ask her what’s the matter, she constantly tells us it’s nothing.

Why does she have to be so COMPLICATED, we ask ourselves.

Eventually we become sick of asking what’s wrong, so we simply sit next to her without speaking. Maybe she breaks the silence by lashing out at us for not knowing what’s really going on. Maybe we make the very dumb mistake of saying “calm down.” The storm finally breaks, and we feel as though we’re forced to duck for cover.

We walk out, telling her to call us when she’s willing to talk about things calmly. At this point we’ve not only failed our woman, but we’ve failed ourselves as men.

We’ve wrongly assumed our woman’s situation is the same as a bike with a broken chain. We’ve wrongly assumed it’s as simple as finding the piece we need to fix. We’ve wrongly assumed – like all other problems in our lives – that it’s our time as men to TAKE CONTROL of the situation. Like a ship’s captain that finds his vessel has strayed off course, we attempt to change her direction.

We’ve tried to steer her, but our woman is not our ship. She’s the ocean that we’re sailing in. Vast and mighty, if we try to wrestle her immense waves we will lose every time. We will drown. She might not even know she’s doing it, but she will swallow us.

Our job is not to be the captain, or a ship. Our job is to be the rock, standing strong off the coast of the ocean that we love. Our job is to be there, and to be there for no reason other than our love for her waters.

Like any body of water, there will be days when she crashes against us. Wave after wave, it might feel like the ocean will never again be calm. When her tide is high we may feel like we’re close to drowning. Sometimes she hits us so hard we think we might crack. But if we remain full and abundant in our love for her, and constantly present in our masculinity, it will pass.

Her waters will quiet. She will once again lovingly caress us, her waves gently lapping at our ankles. She will completely open her heart in response to our stubborn love. She will trust in our strength, and feel safe in showing us the depths of her dark and healing waters. She’ll let us dive into her completely and we will taste her salty kiss. She’ll show us just how much we have to learn from the mysterious gifts she has to give us.

IMG_2044
Will you only swim in her when the waters are calm and the scenery is peaceful?

Until, of course, another storm shows itself on the horizon. But our job as the rock never ends.

So, if you cannot love her sunrise as much as you love her stormy weather, she isn’t the woman for you.

If you cannot find humour in the situation and need to lash out or walk away, you’re not the man for her.

If you cannot give unconditional love to her when her waters get rough, you’re treading in waters too deep and powerful for your abilities. It is better for you both if you find a smaller pool to dip your timid feet in, and for her to find a man willing to embrace her inherently wild and endlessly passionate nature.

Be good to each other,

~MG

Featured Photo Courtesy of http://www.wildwomanjourney.com.

Do You Know Your 6ix?

We know where, and what, the 6ix is.

Thanks to Drake, we even know what the views from the 6ix are like.

views-from-the-6

But do you know who your 6ix are?


I’m talking about the six men or women who will stand on each side of your corpse and carry your casket. Can you think of them now? Can you even think of six people you want to carry you from this world until the next?

If you can, are they the same six that you’re going out for drinks with after work on Friday? Or are those drink mates just people you’re passing the time with? The people that happen to be interested in the same thing as you? Will any of those drinking buddies keep in touch after they take a better job offer in a different city?

If you can name your six, are they the same six you ate lunch with in high school? Or were they just the other people who arbitrarily fell into the same “group” you did?

Is the last person you were intimate with one of your six, who will be there by your side even after you’re gone? Did they know your all of your hopes and dreams, and want to support you however they could in chasing them? Or were they just a one night dance, a single serving dose of validation and a few hours escape from loneliness?

What about the last person you dressed to impress? Or who you last sacrificed your time, energy, or integrity for? Were they in your six? Will their love-filled tears splatter on the cold concrete as they say goodbye to you in this life?


When was the last time you told one of your six that you loved them, appreciated them, and acknowledged them for all the light they bring into your life? When was the last time you sent them a text, instead of worrying about all the people who have nothing but self-serving interests when it comes to you?

Know your 6ix.

Prioritize your 6ix.

Love your 6ix.

And let them know who they are to you.

Be good to each other,

~MG

Featured Photo Courtesy of http://www.worldspaceweek.org

Get Excited!

We’ve all heard it before. We’ve heard it from our friends, our parents, our siblings, and our teachers.

Don’t get TOO excited.”

It doesn’t even seem to matter what the scenario is;

Trying out for a team and you made the first cut? Don’t get too excited.
Applying for a job and got an interview? Don’t get too excited.
Had the most amazing day with the person you love? Don’t get too excited.
Finished the second year of a three year degree? Don’t get too excited.
Lost a couple pounds of body fat? Don’t get too excited.

The excitement police is ever vigilant. But my question is this: When, exactly, are we supposed to get excited? The “don’t get too excited” warning – in my opinion – has two negative suggestions that accompany it.


The first is the suggestion that something may yet go wrong. You could still be cut from the team, you could still be passed over for the job, your loved one could leave you, or you could still fail out of your degree. You might slip up and eat some cake, putting those pounds back on. “Don’t get too excited” suggests we shouldn’t be excited about these things because they can still be taken from us – as though there is anything in this life that is permanent.

The problem is, the “may yet go wrong” mentality never ends. Once you make the team, you can still be benched, released, or break your femur in a thousand places and never play again. Once you get that job, you can still be fired. Once you get married, or start a family, you can still lose that loved one to death, or divorce, or circumstance. Once you get that degree, you can still be jobless or considered under qualified. A lack of permanence is in no way related to your ability to enjoy and be excited about a moment.

If you’re waiting to celebrate something permanent, you’ll be waiting a very long time. Laying on your deathbed, many years from now, you’ll realize nothing can be truly grasped in this life. So, no matter how fleeting or small the moment, get excited about it. It is these tiny moments of success, progress, and joy that – when their tiny parts are finally collected and assembled – we look back on and remember the life we created for ourselves. You’ll never get a second chance to get excited along the way, so do it now and do it every chance you can.


The second suggestion that comes with the “don’t get too excited” warning is that you somehow haven’t finished yet. You’re not at your goal or your destination. It carries the dastardly assumption that there IS a destination in the first place. But what if, at the end of all of your days, you realize there never really was a destination. What if you looked back on all the little steps you made along the way, and realized life was about the journey? Would you wish you got excited about and celebrated the little moments a little more?

Thinking about life as the destination leads to false regrets. You’ll always focus on the places you didn’t reach rather than the joys and growth you were lucky enough to experience. You’ll see yourself as never have making it to the big leagues, rather than seeing all the friends and mentors you met along the way, and the positive experiences you shared with them. Even if you do eventually reach that destination, you’ll replace it with a new one.

I’m not saying having goals or dreams is a bad thing. I think we’re all born with dreams and we should all let that call of our soul guide us.

What I am saying is this life is inherently exciting. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The small moments and the grand ones. It’s all part of this journey we call life. The journey naturally excites us – so allow yourself to get excited about it.

Get TOO excited about it, even.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Featured photo courteousy of forums.marvelheroes.com

Celebrating the Individual:

It is time to celebrate who we are.

There’s always something about the first words you type onto a blank page. It’s like splashing paint onto a crisp-white canvas. I believe we all have words pent up inside of ourselves. Those first ones break the pressure. You kind of just let the words fall onto the paper as they naturally would. Your soul is the bursting cloud, allowing droplets of inner wisdom to sprinkle the land underneath it.

It seems much too rare these days that we allow our soul the ability to speak its truth. Too often we are stifled by social and cultural concerns. I think its a pretty sad notion that our individuality is being suffocated by the very people that should be celebrating it: ourselves.

We’ve seen the unique nature of each human being oppressed in many different ways by many different tyrants.

We saw it masterfully done by the Catholic church after the dark ages. We were told we were all beautiful children of God who loved us infinitely. God would love us until the end of our days, unless we looked upon the stars with our own eyes and suggested, perhaps, that our solar system wasn’t exactly structured as the church had taught us it was. That, maybe, we weren’t the centre of it all. Then we were heretics; we were blasphemous, spoiled spawns of darkness.

23959515_640
This isn’t just our solar system, it’s our entire universe. If you disagree, then you’re going to burn in hell, you God damned heretic.

We were loved by God so long as we accepted our fate as peasants, farming for dukes and bishops we would never see. Don’t worry, we were told, if we allowed ourselves to be powerless and impoverished in this life, the next one would have rainbows and beds made of clouds. Our sons were loved by God as long as they didn’t love other men. Our daughters were loved by God as long as they didn’t stay connected to their feminine nature or the earth. As long as they didn’t embrace their sexual power and remained subservient to men, our daughters were wonderful indeed.

witchcraft-witch-hunts
How dare this woman worship the earth she came from and the rivers that gave her life. I heard she also sex with Satan, doesn’t she know she is the property of her husband and of God?

We saw it done by Hitler and the Nazis, who told us we were perfect specimens of greatness. Unless, of course, our hair and eyes were too dark or our skin produced a higher amount of pigmentation. Then we were somehow sullied; we were somehow corrupt. Capitalism told us we were successful and smart, as long as our car was new and we had the latest smart phone. We were always perfect as long as we fulfilled someone else’s definition of it.

GERyouth4
What a perfect little Nazi. Now why can’t your brunette sister be more like you?! She would be perfect too, if she was.

You would think after all of the great individuals, the great men and women who stood in defiance of the oppression of the uniqueness of humanity, that we would learn to celebrate the diversity of one another and of ourselves.

We are shape shifters by nature. We are flexible and bendy. We can wear many different hats. We are water.

Our ability to bend and twist and move and flow is proof enough that none of us were made to be packed into rigid little boxes of conformity.

And yet still we act as our own corrupter. We still restrict our own freedom to be individuals. We are still barbarically behind in a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals and as a species. From the very time we are school children, we speak and act harshly toward those who stand out, instead of celebrating them.

Celebrate who you are, and support others who do the same.

Because you’re all pretty fucking awesome.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Photos:

Featured Image: inesperkovic.com
Geocentric Solar System: pics-about-space.com
Witch Hunt: hiduth.com
Hitler Youth: spartacus-educational.com

On The Stories We Tell Ourselves:

We waited outside of our bungalow. Our drivers pulled up fifteen minutes late. The van – formerly white but now the colour of a frozen cheesecake – was loud and leaking a curious brown fluid everywhere. The van carried a wonderfully blended smell of a gas station and burnt toast. The exhaust pipe was choking out ink-black fumes.

Isn’t the story already writing itself for you? Something bad is about to happen, right?


The driver stayed in his seat while his compatriot jumped out to greet us. His English was the best I had heard from a Balinese person since I landed on the island. He had a bright smile. I liked that he was going to be our guide for the day.

But I couldn’t stop looking at the driver. The ash from his cigarette was longer than the actual cigarette. The smoke rising from it danced into his bloodshot eyes. He had an Iron Maiden shirt on, which one could presume he wore to the bar the night before. His bed-head hair might have been evidence that he was the reason why they were late to pick us up.

Like Tom Cruise about to jump into a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, he coolly slid sunglasses over his sleepless eyes. Go time, we must have both thought at the exact same time. Danger Zone was playing in my mind.

Tom-Cruise-in-Top-Gun
An artist’s rendition of my driver.

We took our seats and I reached for my seat belt, except (of course) there wasn’t one.

Perfect, I thought. We were about to drive up the side of Mount Doom on an island which has little in terms of road rules. We would be attempting this task in a death-trap built in the 1980’s, driven by the Balinese version of Otto from The Simpsons. No seat belts. One might assume this is how it would all end for me.

The kicker? We still had to stop and pick up eight more people. To, you know, make sure death bus was full so we could all burn together.

Fast forward; miraculously, we had all survived.


But now I was mountain biking down the side of the volcano. I was doing this on roads without dividing lines, and without enough space for more than one car. I was accompanied by a group of inexperienced cyclists that were a far greater threat to my health than the speeding scooters or farm trucks I was attempting to share the road with. In the villages rabid dogs barked as I passed by, and the streets were even more congested than in the countryside.

13148310_10100630471647788_1050381221_o
Catching the view from the side of a mountain rainforest that day.

Fast forward a second time; we made it. Sure, I had a couple bruises and cuts from some of the girls slamming their bikes into my leg. And yeah, it was hot enough to cook an egg on my bike helmet (I wondered how my driver – the hungover Balinese Maverick – was feeling in this heat). But all of us were just fine.


The thing is, we were always going to be okay. We didn’t put ourselves at some great risk that day. It’s only the stories we hear in our own society that make us feel fear in new experiences.

We see an old van and our consumerist conditioning tells us it’s not safe because it isn’t new and sparkling. We see the Balinese Iceman in his heavy medal t-shirt and remember what we’ve been told about a man who looks and dresses like that. That he is somehow more reckless and dangerous than a man in a suit. In reality it was probably his van, and his eyes were bloodshot because he probably stayed up late making sure it was running well for our trip. Maybe not.

The point is, the stories we tell ourselves will often be the only difference between a truly enjoyable and memorable experience in Bali, or being terrified the entire time and never getting to enjoy it. The entire experience that day, from the van ride to the bike down the side of the mountain, was one of my favourite Bali experiences.

But I certainly could have ruined it by telling myself fearful stories about not being safe.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Lucky To Be Alive:

How many of us woke up this morning feeling lucky to be alive?

Have you ever really thought about it?

We homo sapiens are the only surviving species of human on this planet, and we started stomping around this place around 200 000 years ago. Our ancestors date back even further, to about 2 million years ago.


I’ve read somewhere that since the beginning of time, there has been billions of different species of living things on this planet. Most of them, over 99% to be less vague, no longer exist on this earth. 

Given our planet’s capacity to completely destroy even the mightiest of species (see: dinosaurs), we’re pretty lucky to have just survived and thrived as long as we have. I mean, we’re still here and, other than a few bad apples, we’re doing some pretty awesome shit.


nqqj6dhufzow02u1d5f7
Even these guys aren’t around any more.
And that’s just our species as a whole. How lucky are YOU to be alive?

You were lucky enough to be born into a time when infant mortality in the west wasn’t a massive issue, but for most of the history of humanity it was. You’ve survived the potential for a freak accident that is everywhere around you, and somehow you’ve made it to where you are now. You even survived high school. You avoided or defeated fatal diseases. You were born into a time where there was no “great” war to go off to. Even those of you who have fought for your country , if you’re reading this you’ve been lucky enough to survive the many perils of war.


But your luck goes further back than that.

When your father did his duty to evolution, he mailed a little care package of between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells towards two microscopic targets. That means your odds of getting here in the first place was over ten times worse than your odds are to win the lottery. You were the one in a billion (or if you’re a fraternal twin like I am, one of two in a billion) to hit the target(s). That’s pretty fucking awesome. Well done, you little swimmer you.

Your majestic mother, with a feminine power that can shake the earth, kept you safe and warm in her stomach for around nine months. Let me repeat that. SHE GREW YOU IN HER BELLY. I think it’s far too often lost on us how absolutely miraculous that is.

But what had to happen before your father’s parcel delivery (what can I say, I like the mailman reference and I’m sticking to it.), and before your mother carried you around?


Your mother and father had to be luckier than you did. Not only did they both have to be sufficiently blessed to survive to an age where reproduction was possible, but they had to be genetically attractive enough to find a mate, and biologically functional enough to engage in the act of reproduction. They did it a time slightly more dangerous for infant mortality, for safety standards, and for war.

They had to have parents with even better luck than them. Their parents were born around the time of a second world war, when modern medicine was just beginning to take flight, and when safety standards were none existent. As you go further and further down your family line, you were luckier and luckier that those ancestors survived and thrived long enough to produce your grandmother, or your great great grandfather. If any one of them down the line didn’t get so lucky, you wouldn’t be here.


lunch-atop-skyscraper-new-york-construction-workers-crossbeam
“Lunch Atop A Skyscraper” By Bryan Finke; Great photo, but obviously a demonstration of why some of our male ancestors didn’t live too long.
And it’s a pretty long line you have to look down. Let’s say you go down (up?) the family tree only through the matriarchal side. Her mother, her mother’s mother, and so on. Let’s also say that the average age for having a child was twenty years old, though it was probably younger than that for most of human history. Following just the line of your mother, your grandmothers had to be extremely lucky in an unbroken chain of 100 000 consecutive mothers. Add in the exponential nature of equation when you start including the patriarchs, and their mothers, and the number becomes unfathomable.

That doesn’t even include the biological line that goes beyond the modern view of a human. Our species came from another, which came from another, all of which had to be extremely lucky on both sides of the family, all the way back to the first signs of life 3.8 billion years ago.

Not one of those billions of ancestors was unlucky enough to die of small pox, get sacrificed in honour of Huitzilopochtli, or be eaten by a hippopotamus before they found an equally lucky (and suitable) mate to make the next in line until, eventually, they reached you.

So how lucky are you to be alive? Pretty lucky.

Be good to each other,

~MG.

Photos:
Featured photo courtesy of daddyelk.com
Raptor photo courtesy of reddit.com

On Loss:

I look at the history of humanity and I see that humans inherently understand the beauty that can come with losing the people and things that we love.

How many of us can claim we haven’t felt the painful sting of true loss in our lives?

Of course, none of us can. Even the old monk who has nothing to lose has, at some point in time, lost a teacher or has left a family that meant the world to him.

In fact, most of us have recently lost someone (or something) dear to us. It could have been a grandparent, a cat, a job (that you loved), a sibling, or a significant other.

Obviously loss comes in varying degrees. We could have lost a great aunt that we happened to get along with well, or we could have lost the person we believed with all of our hearts that we would someday grow old with.

Most of you probably had a specific name or a face pop into your head as you were reading this. The memory of that person or thing instantly triggered a pain somewhere inside of us. The more intricately entwined with our soul that person or thing was (or is), the deeper and more astonishing that pain would have been.


 

We’ve all gone through it. The loss of someone unmeasurably important to us. The subsequent days in bed, looking out the window at a landscape that always seems to be dark and rainy. We sit in front of computer screens watching cartoons or scrolling Facebook. We do anything we can instead of facing that pain.

We desperately try to escape it, but we can’t. We buy our favourite foods only to realise we have no appetite. We organise a girls’ night only to realise we’re not really in the mood for company or the notion of changing out of our sweat pants. Some of us need to switch to stronger medicine. We binge drink or we get high. We seek out pleasures of the flesh.

Some of us chase a feeling – any feeling – other than pain. Some of us are happy just to numb ourselves. Some of us even like a bit of a blend, the numbing of our minds and souls but the good old stimulation of the physical senses. No matter our medicine, we close our hearts to the world.

But what happens to our heart when this happens? Where does it go?


 

Some say our pain is the risk we take, and a symptom of loving someone fully and completely. Others claim is it a symptom of loving foolishly, and with crippling dependence on that which we’ve lost.

I think of everything I’ve lost in my life and it’s easy to see where the pain comes from. I saw my grandmothers very infrequently, and my dependence on them was extremely limited. The pain of losing them, however, was great. I would say the same of the loss of my favourite dog growing up.

That is because the pain of our loss is directly related to how much love we put into a relationship, and how open and vulnerable we allow ourselves to be in order to receive the return of that love. It is in this understanding we can solace in dark times.

I’ve said it before, I know very little about this crazy world we’re caught spinning in. I know even less about that blinding force which we call love. In many ways, I’m hopeless when it comes to these things. But I look at the history of humanity and I see that humans inherently understand the beauty that can come with losing the people and things that we love.


 

I think of John Keats, of Dante Alighieri, Andy Warhol, and countless other poets, artists, and writers who used the power of loss in order to create something beautiful. Since the dawn of time, humanity has found ways to turn our losses into our gains. Destruction into construction. Pain into the inherent pleasure of creation. We’ve taken the holes left by loss and we’ve planted and nurtured seeds of beauty in them.

Taj
The famous Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who was mourning the death of his wife who had died giving birth. [Source: placesunderthesun.com].
Life has many ways of taking those we love from us. Death, break-ups, situations of long distance or bad timing, and many other pressures of life. In this life, loss comes at us from all angles. We should expect for the agents of loss at every turn.

We cannot control who, or what, we lose. We cannot control when we lose them.

But we can always control how we react to it. As long as we consciously recognise and accept our grief, then it is in our power to limit and indulge in it as we see fit.

It seems funny that our natural response to losing something or someone is to sit still. To mourn. To hold our breath. To try and cease existing entirely. On the most simple of levels, mourning a loss is compounding our grief. We add loss to loss. We lose days and weeks. We lose our connection to the world around us, to the people who love us, and – most importantly – we lose the connection to ourselves.

If we’ve already lost someone special to us, why lose another moment, or experience, or chance to indulge in life?


 

Why not indulge in that pain as so many creative humans have before us? We can use that powerful energy and turn it into something that serves us rather than something that cripples us. Something that banishes us to the dark corners of the mind.

ghosts
“The People You Love Become Ghosts Inside Of You And Like This You Keep Them Alive.” (2010) by Rob Montgomery: as suggested by its title, this piece of art was inspired by the death of loved ones.

For mother time is a huntress who has never hunted a prey she could not track. She always catches her target. And she comes for us all.

This is why we need to keep moving forward, because time always moves on without us. We don’t have to get out of bed, but the world keeps spinning. We don’t have to pass the time, but the time will pass us by. Eventually our time will be up, and we will be taken away from those who cherish us.

So get out of bed, and put away the tub of Ben and Jerry’s. Turn your loss and your pain into something wonderful.

You can turn that loss of your dream job into that European vacation you fantasized about since you first saw photos of Rome. You can transform the death of your brother into a piece of literature that honours and  immortalises him for all of time. You turn your loss of innocence into paintings which inspire emotions in people so powerful that it tells your story without using words. You can take getting dumped as a sign it’s time to start fresh and experience the thrill of living in a new city, or country.


 

Loss is a part of opening your heart to the amazing experiences of life. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable. The more fulfilling of a life we live, the more we’ll feel that familiar pain of loss. That pain is ours. We can run from it, or we can turn it into something that lifts the soul to the higher realms of creation. It takes courage, but I promise you have that courage inside of you.

What’s your choice going to be?

Be good to each other,

~MG.