My night stand is like a cheap motel. Books of all sizes and backgrounds take up short-term residency. We have our thing. Edges curl under the weight of words. Spines twist and crack. Minds expand. Then, it’s over.
One book, on a long-term lease, sits quietly to the left. It’s plain, unassuming and solid. Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart“ is a safe place, a treasure chest, a beacon of light.
It gives me this quote:
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
For one year, those words gave me the strength to go on.
Here are two more quotes by Chodron:
“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished.
That’s not the idea at all.
The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.”
“Life is glorious, but life is also wretched.
It is both.
Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.
On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.
Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”
Open mic at a party. What words would you share?