No Other Choice

September 10th 2014
Published: September 10th 2014
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There are times in every great journey when the hero falters. Doubt flows in, Depression soon to follow and there is little light at the end of the tunnel. Obstacles met along the way grow bigger and blacker, each step heavier than the last and eventually the path is no longer clear, with sense of direction all but obscured and the hero is faced with the decision to continue or turn back.

I am no hero on an epic journey. I have not battled dragons or placed my might against the gods; I do not fight for honor or country and have nothing to my name but the clothes I carry on my back. And from this place of humility I say that my road to enlightenment has hit a rough patch and I sense determination slipping from my fingers and the strength leaching away from my feet.

My spiritual journey has broken me, almost completely. What I thought would be fulfilling and inspirational has in fact become a heavier burden than even Atlas could hold and I keep hoping that someone will come along and relieve me of it. Rumi’s words have stripped me bare of every mask
I’ve ever worn, the protective layers and costumes I’ve adopted to hide myself from myself, and I’m left naked and alone. I look around me, at the people I have met and at the things I have done and try to see Love once again. I think back to those moments of divine clarity with bitterness and a great sense of loss because I no longer know what it is I’m fighting for or if I’m fighting at all. I curse myself for weakness and I curse Rumi for his supposed wisdom, and all I want to do is curl up and let the world pass me by.

Dark days indeed my friends, dark days.

Not to say there hasn’t been any good times and good vibes along the way. In Rotorua I saw the beauty of brooding volcanoes, with thermal baths, mud pools, and acid lakes decorating the landscape with a various pallet of colors. The sunset over Lake Aniwhenua was like a post card, with soft, billowy clouds running across the smooth unbroken surface of the water. We went eeling at night and saw the stars appear one by one, like millions of tiny eyes slowly waking up and I got my first sighting of the Southern Cross. And the Maori family who lived on the lake welcomed us travelers at their table, preparing the traditional hangi feast of meat and vegetables cooked underground by the heat of stone.

In Blue Duck, a farm far from any civilization where neither cell phone nor computer worked, I spent several hours wandering pastures and dirt roads, listening to birds cry in the trees and sheep baying on the hillsides. The ranch hands built us a fire at night and we drank, danced and laughed together, warmed by the flames and good company alike. In the morning I tagged along to herd cattle and tried my hand at horse grooming, though I wouldn’t say I was successful at either. Hiking the ridge above the ranch was a test of vertigo and I pulled myself up by ropes, grabbed tree roots as hand holds and followed steps cut into stone by ancient tribes. The land plummeted away at my feet and the valley opened up, rugged and tamed, the river bordering it and flowing lazily on one side. Beauty and companionship were alive in that valley, pulsing with Love
and I knew that deep down, we were all a part of it together.

Love is invisible except here, in us. Sometimes I praise love. Sometimes love praises me. Love, a little shell somewhere on the ocean floor, opens its mouth. You and I and we, those imaginary beings enter the shell as a single drop of water.

And so I know there is something more than this, this pit of sadness that I seem to be sinking into. Something beyond this small window that, once achieved, I will be able to look back with the wisdom of having experienced a rock bottom. Though my heart right now feels empty and I am so alone I look to my own reflection just to see a familiar face, I still ache for more. It’s this desire, this bone-deep need that keeps me going and pushes me along, even when I can’t see the road through the tears. And with no surprise, and very little fanfare Rumi has this to say:

Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure. The only rule is, Suffer the pain.

And so it goes, and the world keeps turning. The hero puts another foot forward or turns heel and heads home. Eventually the light shines again and he rediscovers his purpose, and it was greater and more powerful than ever before. Suffer the pain to get to the other side. There never was any other choice.

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