I am at a crossroads, a fork in the road. I have two main paths I can follow.
If I take the left fork, I will be trudging through muck and mire. It is the familiar path of clinging to my suffering in all of its forms.
If I take the right fork, my gait will be floating, light, bounding. I will be at peace and happy and liberated from suffering.
I have been letting myself ease towards the giving, lighter path. I have been bathing myself in loving-kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and gentle understanding. I have been wishing everyone around me to be well and at peace. I feel myself drifting into this strife-less headspace.
In this floating, tranquil headspace, I am detached. I am almost solely an observer. I have a hard time relating to anything but happiness. I can only wish for others to have this same peace of mind. It is not an easy state to attain. It requires that you relinquish the harm you are so used to causing yourself with old, harsh, painful thoughts and mental pursuits.
Every time I struggle, I calmly acknowledge that I am struggling. If there is history attached to the struggle, I relinquish the story. I look past it and return to the present emotion. I dig deeper past the emotion to the energy propagating what I’m feeling. In this way I let go of old hurts and face current ones. I bathe that energy in loving-kindness and then radiate that loving-kindness to everyone else suffering like me, then to everyone, period.
This process soothes my pain and the harm I do to myself by clinging to suffering.
So why not fully dedicate myself to the right fork? Because if I take the right fork it will be harder for me to relate with others. Why is this important? Well, when I get like this, people in need flock to me. People are already flocking to me and I’m not even fully committed to the compassionate path.
I have taken this path before, and fallen from it. Why? Because being helpful is exhausting.
The prospect of returning to that tranquil headspace is scary. Because there is the fear of being walked on. There is the fear of failing those in need. There is the fear of being vulnerable and exposed. There is the fear of feeling others agony and suffering. There is the fear of becoming exhausted from helping others.
I experienced some difficulties today.
One of the people who has come into my life that needs me (I need them, too, to be fair) had a difficult day. For most of the day, I felt confused. I was fully in that tranquil headspace and so I had a hard time understanding their suffering. I felt distant. I kept finding myself wondering, “Why are they holding on to their pain? Why are they holding on to their struggle? Why don’t they just relax? Why are they so attached to things?”
Simultaneously, I found myself telling myself that such thoughts were unfair. Completely unfair and a bit unreasonable. You cannot tell someone to ‘just let go’. To just let things be and not resist the twists and turns of life. To relinquish harmful habits, thoughts, painful memories, etc. Things don’t work that way.
So I struggled against the tranquil headspace. I began to come out of that peaceful, happy place because it was not helping me help my friend.
This friend suffers so much. I don’t want them to. I want to help guide them to a liberated, happy, tranquil state of mind. I know they want peace of mind. I know they know how priceless and precious it is. I ache for them. I wept for them today. They are in so very much pain. I am empathic enough that I am beginning to feel their pain as my own, just as I feel their heartbeat in my chest sometimes.
I know that today I wasn’t very helpful to my friend. I tried… and failed. It seems like all of my efforts to help just made things worse. It pains me that I could not figure out how to ease their suffering today. So yes, when I wept, part of it was for me, too, from the pain of failing.
Part of the reason I have been allowing myself to pursue the (mostly) tranquil path is because I feel safe. My friend does not have this luxury, yet. However, I have seen that this will not always be so. They will have their sense of safety restored. They will have their needs met. They will be freed by happiness.
We are both going through our own processes. I know I will blunder. No one is perfect. We must be forgiving of each other and ourselves.
We need to stop choosing the left fork with its muck and mire and suffering. It will take time. It will take patience. It will take gentle, loving-kindness.
I was not perfect today, but I am still in it for the long-haul with myself and with this wonderful, amazing friend of mine.