Photo by Nathan Wright on Unsplash
Life is best unfiltered.
From time to time, I verbally remind myself of some uncomfortable truths:
- I will die. As surely as I am sitting here now.
- Before then, I will lose some of those I love. They may pass away. They might leave me. I will feel loss or rejection. My heart will break. I will feel alone.
- I will become ill or be injured. I will feel physical pain.
- I will be wrong, publicly. Shame will visit me. I will do wrong and be wracked with guilt.
- People and situations will disappoint me. My face will wear dissatisfaction’s frown.
- Others will disapprove of or be disappointed in me. As I fail in their eyes, let them down, I will feel inadequate.
- I will be confused, afraid. When I want to be strong, weakness is all I’ll find.
- I will be misunderstood. Those I most want to know the ‘real me’ will see me through their own filters. My essence won’t get through as I wish.
- I will never succeed in controlling all I wish to have my own way. I will never achieve security.
These are inescapable truths, not because of anything about me in particular but because I am a human alive in this world. This spoken reminder of their certainty helps me — sometimes — accept them a bit more.
This brief ceasefire — or at least lessening of hostilities — in my battle against reality, against What Is, allows those truths in. I let their day-to-day, real-life, concrete messengers into my experience, unaccompanied by the tension or flight that I so often attribute to them. They bring their discomfort, but I don’t amplify it.
Without exception, arm-in-arm with these messengers and trailing in their wake come their friends and family. These are the visitors I spend so much time hoping for and clinging to — friendship, intimacy, validation, contentment, success, pleasure.
And with my door open and my defenses down, these visitors bear even more beautiful smiles than normal. In the company of their darker cousins, free from my anxious filtering attempts, they bring warmth unknown in my moments of vigilant judgment. In other words, I experience life more fully. In yet other words, I am more alive!
Then, yes, some ‘thing’ or a succession of them happens, and my door begins to close. My defenses re-engage. I lose touch with this period — sometimes moments, sometimes days — of aliveness. Then, if I’m lucky, I remind myself of another inescapable truth: the path of opening to life has no finish line. The ‘work’ of the path is life itself.
I can access life’s fulness more frequently and for longer periods by opening my heart to What Is. I can build my capacity to meet discomfort more immediately and lovingly. It is worth the work. But my failures in openness, in meeting discomfort and in accessing aliveness are ultimately just more of life’s messengers. My work when these failures come my way is no different than at any other time — to let them in as harbingers of truth, of What Is. They carry the very aliveness I seek, just not in the packaging I requested.