You know, it just is. We laugh about that in derogatory terms of folks who know nothing. But I’m talking about the ignorance of suffering.
Life is full of heartache, and none more than when we lose someone we love. There’s a weird quirk in my brain when that happens, which takes me to the goofiest place (and a place from which I never quite return). I’ll think, insanely, that if I could just go back five minutes, this hadn’t happened. Life was good. All was still right with the world.
And that wouldn’t be so bad if it stopped there, but it never does. I’ll think later that day that if this were yesterday, all would still be well. And off I go. With each calendar passing of a day, a week, a month, a year, this sentiment continues to come to my mind.
The thought still arises that if I could go back to the summer I turned ten, my brother would still be alive. Our family, still intact. The dark horrors to follow not occurred. When we still lived in virtual Camelot, before the myth was destroyed.
Then of course also follows the, thank god it’s not that Autumn, or those holidays which followed, filled with the ogres and demons of a reality which in some ways, still feels too awful to bear.
Yes, those days before, when ignorance truly was bliss.
Because we know why. Mortality is that thing we all fear, the thing we push to the back of our minds, to think about later. It’s the ultimate fear behind all the others. But as Carlos Castaneda always said, “Death is our eternal companion.”
What I also fear (and I often think just as much), is the quiet longing for the person lost. The missing them. The pain. And while I know this relates to mortality in general, no matter what your spiritual beliefs, to me it’s as my mother used to say: “When they’re gone, they’re just gone.”
Yes. And the hole left is painful indeed.
It’s just sort of what fills this life with meaning too, however, and fills our hearts with compassion. We’ve all knelt at graves, though different ones, but the very act of doing so connects us as humans. We’ve all walked across paths lined with the hot coals of suffering, which also unites us on life’s walk.
All ancient cultures had myths of sacrifice, saviors, and bliss. All of them. And the point wasn’t that the savior was sacrificed in order to appease some god, but rather, that the very loss was to awaken the human heart to compassion, to unite us in shared suffering, so that our hearts would open and we would love one another.
What I love about Castaneda though is his take on what death can do for us, how it can guide and give back: “Death is the only wise adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that everything is going wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can turn to his death and ask if that is so. His death will tell him that he is wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. His death will tell him, I haven’t touched you yet.”
So, yes, ignorance is bliss. But knowing is heaven. And truly does light the way of the heart.
What guidance do you follow on the path?