The lines that I find myself starring at these days have shifted. It’s no longer the beautiful line of teal blue shades where the ocean meets the sky, but rather one that’s seen from above, where the sky meets the earth. The difference is strikingly more dissonant in both color and form; that which is finite and infinity.
I’m on planes now. Each time I’m in the air time itself seems suspended, and infinite. No matter how often I travel I am always amazed at what a feat this is. The fact that we can be transported in midair and move from one place to another is astonishingly beautiful to me. There’s something magical about that experience, I suppose perhaps because it’s not an innate part of being human. But it’s the dreamer in us that has made it possible to even think of such a concept, and the human brain that made the dream a reality.
It’s in these moments of suspension from reality that I think truth is revealed to me in a way that is just as clear as the line I see outside my window. The things that really matter come into form, and those that don’t can cease to exist for as long as I’m above it all. This is especially true if there is any turbulence. Never have things come so sharply into perspective as on flights where I start to contemplate what happens if we don’t land this plane with the grace of the birds that were the source of inspiration for this type of travel.
Truth has been on my mind these days. The Root Truths have been a guiding force on this journey. But what has surprised me most is that this doesn’t seem to be a journey about searching for anything. It’s about uncovering what I already have within, and having the courage to follow this truth blindly. Sometimes these truths don’t make sense, and many times they become apparent in ways that defy logic.
I first realized this in flashes. Moments where time seemed suspended just as the plane is in the sky. A minute could have been an hour, or a lifetime. With great certitude, I have experienced moments where truth was revealed to me in a way I can’t explain, but I somehow trusted.
I remember one such moment-a very personal moment. It happened several years ago, when I was married to my ex-husband. We were going to Home Depot to pick out a door handle for the newly created, screened in porch’s door. It was a bittersweet time, as I recall, where silences were loaded like the lines of imaginary text between sentences in a Pinter play. We were mourning the death of his mother and trying to sort through the difficult emotions of grief. This was compounded by questions about the state of our marriage which were apparent long before the passing of my mother-in-law.
And yet, we were putting our attention to building out our home. The porch was a part of that, as was the door handle. Each decision seemed to carry the weight of the true question at hand, “shall we continue?”. I mean, why choose a door handle together unless you envision yourselves opening and closing that door? I knew I was not ready to close the door entirely, but in my gut I also had the sense that I wouldn’t be opening it for the promised years to come.
It was in this state that we arrived at Home Depot. I don’t think I was ever aware of so many choices for how one might prefer to open a door. Handles, knobs, latches…you name it. I had no interest, and was dismissive of the whole process. With my phone in one hand (probably checking Facebook), I asked my ex to just pick whatever he liked, hoping the whole trip would be over soon.
But the attendant, who could not comprehend how anyone would not have an opinion on something as crucial as this, insisted. I knew that if I was still in the marriage so to speak, I should try.
But in trying we open ourselves to the unexpected. Trying does not always mean succeeding, it just means we give it a shot and see what happens, open to any possibility.
It was in that moment that time stood still. As I wrapped my fingers around a copper tone knob handle, I saw everything. I knew I wouldn’t be in this marriage much longer. What’s more, I knew we would buy this handle, and that someone else would eventually take my place and she would open and close the back porch door with this very handle, letting the dog in and out, setting up the barbecue, going out to cut fresh flowers and all the rest.
I started to cry. It seemed ridiculous to the Home Depot attendant, but there I was, sobbing while gripping one of the dozens of handles on the display wall. I knew then that it was time to close the door, not to keep trying to open it.
I often think of that knob. It had the shape of a knot on it, as if it was inspired by a sea motif. The knot that was on the handle was the knot that was tied up between my heart and soul. I had kept trying to make things work, but my rope was breaking, despite all of the little knots I kept tying along the way to keep the whole things from breaking.
I think that the process of seeking truth is similar to undoing a knot. Frustration, pain, anger, desire, ambition, and a desire to please can lead us to want to make things work. They can get us tied in knots. Thick Nhat Hanh calls these “internal formations”. They can end up obstructing us from our true selves and binding our minds and hearts from our own freedom.
Perhaps sometimes we seek to be bound, as it’s easier than having the freedom of choice. We are earth bound creatures by nature, and we look up at the birds with envy. We seek to emulate their freedom, and yet we tie ourselves in knots.
Often times, I think I turned my attention away from problems not from lack of solutions but by my own desire. Perhaps I wasn’t ready-as was the case that day at Home Depot-to face my fears, and to at least try and see what might be inside of me if I did. Singing has often been a place I went to hide from these questions. To me, singing is like flying-a beautiful suspension of time, and a deferment of the knots in my reality.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”