Each week, on my designated laundry day, I put extra effort into getting it ALL done on that day before one. more. dirty. item. makes its way into the empty basket. When this happens (which is rare) I feel like I’ve accomplished something BIG.
A satisfied smile spreads across my face when my bill comes to a nice, round, even number. I always feel the need to enthusiastically announce this, “it’s $34.00 on the nose!” as if it’s some rare feat.
I feel smug when I’m able to predict movie plot lines.
And sometimes, because I like the warm, gooey feeling it gives me, I write items on my to-do list that I have already done. There is an undiscernable satisfaction in crossing through that line and knowing, for sure… without a DOUBT, that you managed to accomplish SOMETHING that day. I see you there nodding your collective heads. I’m not the only one.
I crave nice, neat resolutions. Who doesn’t like the feeling that comes with knowing, KNOWING you completed something? I think we all want this feeling. We work hard. We put in the hours and the sacrifice and damn it… there should be a payoff. We deserve a tidy finality… ANSWERS… UNDERSTANDING… TRUTH!
Oh how our feeble brains love simple problems with simple answers. 1 + 1 always equals 2. See, doesn’t that feel good? When we understand that often things can be solved unequivocally, we get to relax a little… unfurl our white-knuckled fingers from the steering wheel because 1 + 1 WILL FOREVER EQUAL 2. AT LEAST I KNOW THIS MUCH. MAYBE NOW I CAN GET SOME SLEEP BECAUSE THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE. Amen.
And so we set about life trying to add things up in similar ways. Trying to make time = money, healthy = better, religion = faith, love = marriage, kids = happy. The more put value on ideas in our heads and draw simple equations, the better we feel about life when it all adds up to a nice, neat round number.
But this is not how we are to live. In fact, I believe this causes us more suffering than any sense of safety… albeit false.
We are not meant to shut down and tune out the other possible answers. Answers that lie beyond our fear of things that just don’t add up.
I can tell you about a place I’ve been lately. It’s a place where there are no answers. I only catch a glimpse of it on my very best days; when I’m lying there on my back, face up, weak and broken. It is this other place, a space between things, when I am neither here, nor there.
It’s a place where I am open to whatever comes; whatever crazy, insane possibility lies just beyond the bend of my life. I know already that it doesn’t make sense to the equations I have in my head. I can see that much from here. It’s uncharted territory. Scary terrain.
You see, when you sit inside despair, a miraculous thing can happen. A simplistic ancient wisdom you’ve seen plastered on bumper stickers and posters in your Facebook feed presents itself anew and you understand it as though it was the first thing you ever truly understood.
I know, that I know nothing. ~Socrates
Because at the bottom of your life — a place where time stands still and up is no longer up and down is no longer down– there are no more tidy equations and easy answers. Hardly anything makes sense and the world from this place looks completely different from anything you’ve ever known to be true. In a way, your blinders are gone. For the first time you can see everything and not just the things you want to see. You see that sometimes 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2. You see that the equal sign is a myth created by man to keep us safe from the scary place where shit doesn’t make sense. You see that you know nothing. And because you know nothing, how could you possibly stand in judgement of anything?
It’s like being an infant all over again — receptive, open, trusting, vulnerable — no judgement, just faith and instinct, and a willingness to learn new things. I leave this place the moment I try to label it, make sense of it, force into one side of an easy equation.
But in my very best moments, while I’m sitting inside the sacred space of despair, I’ve relaxed into this ambiguity and uncertainty. I let go of the steering wheel for just a moment and I trust that there is something better waiting for me just beyond the bend of my life. With these new eyes I can see that the universe is not conspiring against me, but instead, unfolding before me like never before. It is both scary and exhilarating, fearful and loving. It makes no sense, and yet feels like the deepest wisdom I’ve ever known.
It is everything existing at once, in tandem. It is paradox. And I embrace it without trying to understand it. Quite simply… it feels like heaven.