What happens when we wake up to the question, “Is this all there is?”
We have a roving cockerel, I might have mentioned. He came last fall when the ripe figs were on the ground. He begins his morning (and ours too) well before daylight with his lusty crow. He crows intermittently throughout the day from the cool shadows of the wooded area across the wall sometimes sounding like a rusty hinge. But he means well. He is doing his job.
I think he would like to do a better job and would welcome a bevy of hens to manage. But then, he would have to be penned and that wouldn’t do at all would it? Our cockerel is a mighty flyer and has spanned our yard over the heads of cats who watch with wonder at this feat of entitlement. On his days pecking around the yard, both cats and cockerel are unperturbed by each other’s presence. He is too big to be a plaything like a sparrow or dove (don’t remind me). And he was big when they were little so now, if not actual friendship, a willing sharing of space has ensued. The rooster seems genuinely interested in the cats’ play and often follows them around under the trees.
The thing is cats are cats and cockerels are cockerels. The cats protect the perimeter and much to our appreciation if not delight we are sometimes gifted with small rats and salamanders and baby mice in exchange for two meals a day and rare opportunities to stroke the backs of these still wildish cats who were born here last year. We didn’t necessarily want a family of cats, but the mama chose us (two willing suckers, Athan offers) and we got them. So we look after them. And they look after us. We do our job and they do theirs.
As human beings we are not quite as hardwired as animals and yet we have a role to play on this earth. We are not known by fur or feather or cry, our uniqueness is our consciousness and what we do with that. And what that is is governed by our internal GPS, our heart’s desires. We are born with certain aspects of our human being-ness. This stork’s bag will hold, gender, skin color, and mixed genes of our parents. But then the rest is learned. We are not born with the propensity for our national language, for instance, only the propensity to mimic what we hear spoken and then in time comprehend the language of our environment. Similarly we learn to love, show affection, to trust the world … or not. Most critically we learn our self-worth. But, for far too many children who grow up to adults, self-worth was not a matter of delight in who they were, but an exchange of approval for being what they were expected to be.
As complete dependents on our caregivers, we learn to do what garners approval and if our heart’s desires don’t fit the model, well then they are quieted by necessity – and survival. Our unique expression of consciousness is hushed. Trouble is those longings to be whom we are truly meant to be never go away completely. Instead they set up in our inner being like a low-grade fever so that no matter how ‘good’ we are, we never feel quite complete. ‘Good’ can be how beautiful, powerful, wealthy or any number of standards approved by society as admirable. We spend a lifetime of meeting external standards set up in our early training so that we give over our power to authority as it appears in our life. It may start with a parent and move to teacher, boss and ultimately to the nameless formless power of social acceptance.
We know we are not happy, but we may not know why or how to get there. We have never heard our own voice singing out loud – crowing at the sunrise. We don’t dare be who we really are for fear of disapproval or humiliation. We are not whole. We are not well in the fullest meaning. And this of course can be the malaise of the spirit or the body. We may continue to live in external and apparent wellbeing but internal misery. Until, that is, we don’t. And only then can our unique consciousness bloom and engender the happiness that is in our most loving nature to enjoy.
My favorite quote depicting this is from Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Sometimes it takes a very hard knock to break the shell that has built up over the years with repeated shushing of our heart’s whispered pleas for fulfillment. We may suffer a loss, a job, a loved one, or our own health. Something will wake us up to the existential question “is this all there is?” And the beauty of this is you don’t have to go back and undo all accumulated hardening. You just have to acknowledge your own passion and watch how life rushes in to lift you on its shoulders and parade you around.
Our job is to be exactly who we are. When we finally embody this in our thoughts words and actions, the outer world responds to us. We find the job, the mate the purpose, the fulfillment. We are fully expressed, fully conscious. Fully humans – being.
Me agapi (with love),