Thursday, October 24, 2013
Where You Stumble
- Joseph Campbell
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There is no one alive who has not stumbled, fallen, been tripped up and tumbled down. It is what we do. We fail. We fall. We skin our hands and knees, break bones and bruise our soul. And it is gift beyond all telling.
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Listen, if you are here unfaithfully, you are doing terrible damage - to yourself, those closest to you, to your time and the world around you. You want peace, or love, or acceptance, or healing, or work that suits you, or money, or status, or anything that anyone might want, yet it hasn't arrived and your efforts turn to ash in your mouth. You pray. You read about the secret. You wish to manifest miracles and all of it, all of it is faithlessness and it is doing terrible damage.
You cannot escape the singular requirement of life: namely, to experience it - all of it. Not just the good parts.
The faith required of you is not to any god or religion, but to the life in your hands. Where you fall is where you learn - if you are willing, if you have the faith to see it. We are born as we are into a set of circumstances we have no choice in: gender, race, location, affluence or want, surrounded by love or surrounded by fear. We are set in motion and those first steps are dominated by others, but in time we find our feet and if we are awake we go adventuring. We test. We find out. We theorize. We stumble. We fall. Over time it seems we stumble on the same rock, the same root coming out of the ground: love, money, acceptance, peace, God. We cycle back over and over, fearing the damn rock, our minds cluttered with portents and blocks and closed doors. And we fall and fall again. We seek out cures and healing wells, talismans against the prospect of our fall. We affirm. We develop a spiritual OCD chanting someone else's prayers in the hopes they'll work for us.
And it never takes, does it?
Here's why, my loves: what you have been trying to avoid is the key to your soul. The longer you dance around it, look for shortcuts or pretend you can wish it away, the longer you are stuck and fucked and going nowhere. Life requires that you have faith in it, in the life in your veins. Where you stumble is the dam in the river.
What repeats in you life? Relationships? Money? Jobs? Religion?
Baby, this is where your treasure lies. This is where your work is. This where you life takes hold. Quit skipping past it. This is where your life comes to life.
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It is a lack of imagination that says we are born to suffer. Brothers, sisters, we are born to overcome, to match suffering with faith, match loss with love, and where you suffer is where your faith is born. This isn't a trick, a self-soothing lie, but the fierceness of life doing what it does: transformation - taking what was and turning it into what is. You want to be free of falling, then dig where you fall. You want your life to matter, to have meaning, then use what is at hand to carve that meaning into the time you have.
But here's the thing. Life is in the business of change. If you meet life head on, if you dive into the work of finding the treasure where you stumble and you emerge from that moment - the boon in your hand - do not think your work is done. There will be another fall, in another place and you will have to have the faith to see it for what it is: life calling you into your name. Only this time, you will have the sure knowledge born of experience that what seems to be a wall is actually a door you pass through to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing...
Don't miss your life because it hurts to fall. Falling is what we do in order to learn to stand and then throw ourselves forward, our feet to fly, our life to be lived.
Now go. Don't you have something to do?
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