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Rant #373
(published March 13, 2008)
by William Stonebraker
Modern man's difficulties, dangerous beliefs and feelings of loneliness, spiritual emptiness, and personal weakness are caused by his illusions about, and separation from, the natural world. — Benjamin Hoff

Mourning is an action. It is the process of adapting to loss with rituals both public and private. Seen in the costumes and movements of those tumbling in its currents, heard in the cries and stories of those caught in its tides, it adds weight to the silences that sink us into the darkness of ourselves. We are born in it, we are born from it and we are born through it. It follows the cataclysmic losses that comprise the prima mater of our existence. It is the first contraction announcing that we, not the world, are about to change. The point of the process is to survive it. The goal for survivors is to reinvent their lives without that which was lost.

How does a person accomplish this when the change that triggered the process simultaneously stole the majestic quality of the human spirit to soar above adversity? Is it not the manner and timing of the theft that leaves a wake of disappointment, anger, hurt and a legion of other emotions clamoring for attention? And what of the thousands of questions that riot in the mind deep into the night, themselves robbing us of sleep, each of which has no answer? Categories, assumptions and conclusions collapse into a state of demoralized confusion and emptiness. Energy dissipates. Dreams become comatose. Is it any wonder that there is an attending perception of gross injustice when the thief has done his work? As if to mock us an angel brandishing a flaming sword prevents our return to the way things were.

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky,
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
Mevlana Rumi

Initially, it seems, to begin with sorting out and investigating what remains of the collected values, beliefs, goals, attitudes, myths and dreams gathered before the change. This is something deeper than mere reorganization. It involves more that moving boxes around and multi-tasking to survive a corporate downsize. Many things can transpire during this time but two things are sure to happen. First, this sorting and investigating can bring with it an encounter of enlightened self-discovery. Second, it can result in the heartbreaking awareness that some fantasies have died forever. The painful awareness that what could have been, what should have been and what would have been are just as gone as what was. In this climate attitudes can change, values can be altered, the tectonic plates of depth and direction can shift and change the landscape of a life.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchangedto find the ways in which you yourself have altered. — Nelson Mandela

The newborn serves as our icon here. Laid at its mother's breast, it now finds sustenance and nurturance from the same source in an entirely different context. The future begins anew in the moment. People start over. They move. They go back to college. They start businesses. They feel the value of forgiveness and compassion.

Debts are cleared. Family members cease taking others for granted and try harder to be less critical. Dead marriages resurrect. Life is simplified. Long walks in quiet places become necessary. There are not many doctrines and dogmas cluttering up soulscape. The values that remain are chosen rather than inherited. They are clear and balance the needle of our inner compass. A reliable continuity emerges in the present and replaces the slavery of repeating the past in dread of the future. We find ourselves recovering from our addiction to external loci of control toward a new trust of self. This trust, conjoined with intuition, works in the best interest of the psyche they guide. Their directions become central to living. In the vessel of time the goal of the process is achieved and evidenced in a compassionate connection with others and an abiding acceptance that transcends the fear of change.

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