Sunday, January 5, 2014

Every Difficulty In

Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.

- Epictetus, The Art of Living

* * * 

No one is coming to save you. No one.

Take a minute here and let that soak in. I'll wait.

To be clear: no one is coming to save you. No one. Ever.

* * *

At the center of a fucked life is an assumption - reinforced by the paradigm of consumption (in commerce, in love, in religion) - that is wrong on its face, that inevitably burns through your days as straw for the fire, that fucks you before you have a chance to breathe: you will be saved, made whole, cured, your life given meaning by another, by God, by your bank account, etc. We matriculate from point to point never questioning the idea that somewhere out there is our soul mate, our work, our God. We push and drive and grind it out - heroes to a cause we believe is ours, but in fact has nothing to do with us. You are straw for the fire. You are consumed in the same way you consume the ideas of love and God and work laid down for you: thoughtlessly, as anonymous to the fire as any kindling because everywhere you look it is the same. What is there to doubt?

All would be well except for that 2 in the morning fear that covers you in a cold sweat, the distance in your beloved's kiss, the job that eats a bit of your soul each day because none of this fits exactly right, but is passable, good enough and we count ourselves lucky to have insurance, a bedmate, a prayer we can whisper for deliverance.

And we delivered only unto the fire.


Because we leave the agency for our lives in all that is not us, in all this external to us, that we mistake for authority, that we gladly offer up our lives, our love, our effort to because it promises to rescue us, save us, give us a path to follow, end our confusion and tuck us in at night. Follow, my brothers, follow my sisters then you won't get in the way.

* * *

No one is coming to save you. No one. Ever. It can't be done. If you will be saved it can only be accomplished by your hand. Don't misunderstand me. You will be helped, kindnesses will be offered, respites will crop up and your journey will be made sweeter because of it. But do not confuse help and kindness with being saved from the effort of finding out what your life can do. I have been the beneficiary of kindnesses too numerous to count, too sweet to tell in words and for the bulk of my life I conflated these gestures of empathy and concern and faith with being relieved of the task at hand. And so I cycled through and recycled through the same conflicts, the same challenges never reaching shore, never putting it to rest, always using the miracles of love and solace as a hideout, excusing myself from the hard road down because, well, look, I was saved from it by this love, that job, this kindness.

No one is coming to save you. No one. Ever. It can't be done because you are the answer, you are the way you will be saved from an anonymous life. The gifts of love and kindness are shared, not imposed, and they cannot save you - not in the terms you're thinking of. What they can do is embolden you to live better than you've shown, encourage you to embrace the idea that your life is yours to save, rescue, make meaningful. This is the power behind loving another: letting them be as they are and loving them anyway. If love can save you it will be because you give it away without expectation. This is love's great power: it is a sign of faith in another that they are up to the task of living a life out loud.

* * *

Every difficulty is a doorway to what comes next. Your life cannot be saved or rescued from these difficulties by another or by God or money. It never sticks. You slip past the worst of it and count  yourself lucky and set yourself up to do it again and again. You rely on love to save you, on a new job, a deeper fidelity to the God you pray to to deliver you from your trials.  As such you are a mere plaything of chance. But it doesn't have to be so. Such views of love and God and work are, at heart, adolescent and filled with magical thinking. It feeds a fantasy of never having to do any of the heavy lifting yourself. You can let go of that now. It hasn't served you very well, has it?

No one is coming to save you because you are already here. You have everything you need - right now - to unfuck your life. The love and kindnesses you have received are but signs of faith that you'll get there.

Now go. It's time. You have work to do.

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