I went to the Long Beach aquarium Friday afternoon. I wanted it to touch my bad mood and it did, but not before I made a comment. There is such effort and artistry put into keeping those ecosystems alive. So much work required to maintain it. Why bother when everything will die? "Everything will die." Vocalizing this felt darkly childish, but I still expected it to ring true. It didn't. I've been thinking about why not and have come to this conclusion (a notion I have been introduced to before but which hits home ever so often in new ways): life never dies, it only goes in and out of experiencing itself (as a sea urchin, anemone, jellyfish or me, for instance).
Looking in the tanks you see that they are teeming with life - from very low to sophisticated levels of intelligence - but life just the same. How could life die? Only things die. Our different faces give the illusion of separateness. Faces whose expressions, nonetheless, endlessly reflect the same thing. Whole and inseparable. Even though we are given names and tend to eat each other. What a brat I was to have said something like that, even for effect. I suppose I'm afraid of death, of loss.
J.G. Bennett writes that it is "a risk to go forward in spiritual life, because all progress in the spiritual life must come from dying in order to be born again. Every step is a death, and everything that one finds is a new birth." I can't argue. This bad mood I've been in really had me by the balls for a few extraordinarily long and messy days. I was it's bitch. But I still did my sitting and practiced my guitar. It was in doing these that I found the strength and the wherewithal to ask for help. And there was no mistaking when it arrived.
I've said before that I am like a dead thing all the moments between noticing. This was no less like being raised from the dead. I was struck from out of nowhere with a sense of renewed compassion for my self. I suddenly, lovingly, occupied my own body again and breath flowed in. This experience of relief had no clear connection to anything in my head or amongst my surroundings. A weight had literally been lifted from my shoulders. A weight I had already tried, and failed, to lift myself.
It was a good lesson for me. We prepare the soil. We lay the ground with our work. We strive to survive and to find balance, to become the architects of our own internal and external environment, but it's not enough. There is something we simply cannot plant in our own hearts but must be placed there for us. If it weren't for life continuously and uncontrollably flowing in and out, with its own will and its own purpose, we would still be lump of some mythological clay waiting for God's breath to invigorate us. We would get lost, as we all must do, but never be found.