Friday, March 14, 2008

Everybody Hurts

In some of my recent correspondence, I've been telling people that I've incorporated grieving into my daily living. By that, I mean grief in a much wider context than my status as a widower. Going back to my 29 January post about Letting Go Emotionally, we can get a good idea about what grief is in the context of our dead spouse — the loosening or defusing of the emotional energy we have tied up with our lost loved one. Therèse Rando says grief is withdrawing emotional energy and investment from someone we love. I would also add that grief is the process of changing all our habits from our old, married life: thought habits, feeling habits, physical habits, mental habits, emotional habits, sexual habits, spiritual habits.

What I've discovered, though, is that there is a much wider context to grief. I'm now noticing references to grief concerning getting older (grieving the loss of youth), illness (grieving the loss of health), the empty nest (grieving the loss of parenting), and community (grieving the loss of an era). The grief principle remains the same in each case, namely changing our habits to free up our emotional energy and investment in these concepts.

I'm discovering more and more that our emotional energy is not so much tied up with these concepts per se, but rather with accumulated memories we have related to these concepts. The more accumulated memories we have acquired, the heavier the emotional investment and the stronger the emotional energy. And a subtle process occurs somewhere along the way — we come to believe that we are those memories.

This struck me today when I was reading the following from an interview on BeliefNet:

Do you feel like you're reinventing yourself for a second life?

Reinvention doesn't really say it for me. Nature doesn't reinvent itself every spring. It does what it does. God invents you. As you get older, the spiritual opportunity is to drop that which is false and to reclaim your true self. T.S. Eliot in "Four Quartets" says, "You're always going home. You're going back home." So, it's not so much that you're going forward, you're coming full circle. You are dropping this artificial self that accumulated -- the burdens, the disappointments, the fears, the falsehoods.

What are these accumulated burdens, disappointments, fears, and falsehoods? Memories. Nothing but memories. And we are not our memories. We are something much more than our memories.

I've been thinking of a bus-stop as a good analogy to living life from our memories. Picture yourself sitting peacefully at a bus-stop on a pleasant summer day. Suddenly, a bus screams up to the curb and slows, not stops. Without thinking, you jump on the bus and it careens around the corner, headed off to goodness knows where. You don't know the route exactly, although you have likely ridden this bus many times in the past. You probably don't even know the number of this bus, nor can you clearly articulate what possessed you to climb aboard. After an exhausting journey, you get booted unceremoniously to the curb, only to have another bus pull up, which you dutifully board, again oblivious as to what number it is or what route it will take. And why do we do this? Habit. And some of us get quite skilled at this on-off bus syndrome to the point where we can jump buses mid-stream. And we wonder why we are tired all the time!

As I continue to study alternative healing methods, a similar methodology emerges. The trick seems to be to notice the bus (a memory) pull up, but consciously refuse to board (don't replay that memory). Simply let the bus come and let the bus go. Remain peacefully at the bus-stop. Whether the technique is reciting a mantra, focusing on breathing and recognizing the impermanence, using the Theater of the Mind, or the Ho'oponopono technique of reciting, "I love you; I'm sorry; please forgive me; thank you," each technique seems to serve to occupy the mind long enough to distract it so that the bus can drive away.

I was reminded of this when I read this blog entry yesterday:

Everybody hurts.

You know, there's one little saying I carry very close to my heart:

"Everyone's having a rough time. Don't give them any more grief."

And isn't that just the truth?

We all get down. I mean, sometimes really down.

Down as in wanting the earth's crust to open up and swallow what little pride we have left.

Yes, indeed. Everybody hurts.

However we can always take solice in the idea that everything passes.

Today we hurt. Tomorrow we smile.

In the words of Hercule Poirot, (that oh-so-famous self-help guru), "Now, it is cloudy. In the morning, the sun shines. Such is life, madame."

I hadn't watched the R.E.M. video for this song before, but I was quite interested to see all the subtitles representing people's thoughts as they are stuck in traffic. Notice how many of those thoughts are related to memories:

I'll close with another part of the interview I quoted above:

When the mirror is no longer telling you what you thought you would like to hear and the culture is no longer telling you what you thought you would like to hear, sometimes that's when you finally have ears for what God wants to say to you. That's when you hear him say things sweeter than the mirror ever told you and sweeter than the culture ever told you. That's when you finally realize that you are loved, and you finally realize you are enough.

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