Many years ago, I purchased this book called Nourishing the Soul: Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life, it is an anthology of essays by various writers including Jack Kornfield, Thomas Moore, and Joan Borysenko. I was looking for some non-fiction late last night an picked it up again. I read through some of the essays I have read and marked up, it is yet another book I started and never finished. I wonder sometimes about this arrest of my spiritual growth. I remember at one point saying ah this is all bunk. I don’t exactly remember why. I want to blame it on my ex saying I was crazy and then going into therapy. (That therapist eventually quit because in her own words she had reached a point where she really didn’t care much about her patients problems anymore and she was not doing a good job treating them. I have said over and over how wonderful the one I have seen off and on over the last two years is, in many ways he is the one that brought me back to this book, to this journey of the soul. Both have said unequivocally that there was something not right about the ex though, the former word for word, the latter who met him was more diplomatic, and more specific.) I have to accept this I guess as a mystery because for the life of me I have the idea that the “you are nuts you need therapy” comment said in the heat of an argument about his emotional absenteeism is what precipitated it, but I cannot pin it down in my mind.
I read this that I had not underlined “…the investigation of the nature and meaning of life’s difficult passages leads them unrelentingly and directly to the locus (soul-home), this archway through which lies the original land of the soul itself. Disillusionment about a person or an idea,the suffering of a great loss, an ongoing torture or injustice these are the most well-defined passages that lead, push and even force us to remember “soul” home. ” further that “Life is the teacher that shows up when the student is ready.” and that “Life is often the only teacher we are given that is perfect in every way.”
I am struck deeply by much of what I have read, the idea that we have a second life that we can choose to live, that is difficult and not an easy path to take. The path of the soul journey. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance he talks about the secondary roads, like Frost’s The Road Less Traveled, this life breaks away from the main trail, from the straight and narrow. We all have a path to walk, and many of us are stuck in the urbanized and enculturated chasm of emptiness, not the empty satiety of sunyata, but the emptiness of soul, of spirit, the leaking vessel, the broken and unrelenting ugliness of a shallow shell of beauty that hides only darkness, emptiness, hungry ghost like wraiths who are but squirming worms. I find myself awakening to this self that has always existed. I find that my life has taught me this. That I already knew. It is beautiful this lesson. As it comes to me, I see it beautifully and with perfection. I want to call my ex and tell him thank you for bringing me this gift. You were the teacher, and I was a faithful student to this lesson. I won’t though, I cannot, he would not understand.
There are those in this culture who embrace a false beauty of the external. No wonder people turn from this path, this path of inner beauty, of repudiation of external perfection. It goes against everything the media, our friends, our lovers, our children, our neighbors and really so so many people wants us to embrace.
I remember how confident I was once on this alternative path. Then when I met the ex something shifted. I was never good enough on the outside, I was supposed to color my hair, wear nail polish, wear heels and fancy sexy bras. Before that I was a tie dyed bra-less hippie chick, barefoot, and carefree. I look at his coiffed and polished new woman and I can never compare. But I have met her and there is a deep ugliness in her soul. I actually was pretty adamant at one point that we no longer spend time with this group of people because they were bad people, lying, selfish, self absorbed, one of them was named Damien and I likened that person to the one from The Omen. But I still tried to fit into this image, this external idea that has never been me. And I lost myself there for a long time. In thinking of this I find myself realizing that is why he always bought me brown leather bags and shoes, brown dresses and polka dots. He never saw the real me, only some image he had conjured for himself, something that fit in with some other world, a culture of people that do not match up with what is inside of me. I know that everyone in this world has their place, but I cannot help but see that so many really are lost. They actually believe this illusion of self. This idea that they are separate and that external beauty is what really matters. This path of working on the inner beauty seems so much more rewarding to me than salons, tanning beds and fad-ish clothing. It is not that I don’t want to look nice on the outside, but that I want the work of my life to be on what will truly satisfy my eternal self.
I see it so clearly now. I know I am back again and again to this ex-husband, but if feels different today, rather than crying out for understanding I am crying out IN understanding. I get it now.
I know now what I have to do. I have been experimenting with the empty calories and empty things, in empty alteration of my consciousness too. I have to nourish my body now. I have to keep myself from those little experiments too, the ones that numb my pain. It is time to embrace this beautiful life. It is time to embrace my inner perfection.