Many traditions remind us that we are the full range of life – not just the parts we like, all the parts. Love and hate. Faith and doubt. Surrender and fight.
Meditating, contemplating, praying connect us with the mystery of the range. Until life calls us back into the day and we’re fully engaged in its flow. One minute, we’re frustrated with traffic, the next minute we’re enjoying the warmth of a friend’s smile.
What happens when rather than lulling us into the day, the range implodes, crashing us head first into tumultuous waves of the dark emotions? The ones full of energy – that can make or break us?
Little did I know one morning in January that I was about to find out.
The day began like any other day. I got up, fell into my routine, and left for a late morning appointment. Perfect. Afterwards, walking across a light blanket of snow, I got in my car and started home.
It wasn’t long before traffic slowed down, but here, in Atlanta, it doesn’t take snow to slow traffic, so I thought “No big deal” and launched my practiced coping skills. I found an alternative route, got gas, and visualized myself getting home soon, and safe.
Four hours later, into what is normally a 15-20 minute drive, I was still on my way home. “No big deal,” I thought. I was flowing evenly within the range.
My inner wisdom reminded me that “All is well” while my mind tracked our progress, counting cars going through each light. To distract my fidgety body, I played with the buttons on the dashboard. And my emotions maintained a balanced buffer – ease morphed into frustration, and came back.
Still, “No big deal,” I thought – just normal movement across the range.
Then, as the 7th hour came and went, I had done all I could. I had told myself stories. I had sung, breathed, talked, cajoled. Now, there was only silence. No place to go. Nothing to do. Traffic stopped.
In this suspended time and space, I could no longer pretend that I was in control. The pace of my life, its movement, was a function of what was going on around me. No matter what I did, it didn’t matter.
What happens when we feel we are no longer in control of what happens to us?
In this moment, 7+ hours into the drive, with no end in sight, I did not hesitate to wonder. I dove into the deep end of the range where frustration and anger fueled my desire to do something, anything.
Like the guy in the movie Network, I wanted to open all the windows and scream “I’m madder than hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” That was soon followed by the idea of laying on the horn and forging an escape route driving on the sidewalk. And of course, there were the periodic expletives “*?>@ it, I’m ditching the car and walking home.”
In the midst of it all, the phone rang. It was my daughter. “Mom, how are you? Are you okay?” I told her the truth. I wasn’t okay. I was in a mess and I didn’t know how to get out. She didn’t try to talk me out of it, or tell me to look at the bright side, she just listened and said “I love you.”
When we hung up, all was quiet within the car. A deep silence settled through me. “I have a choice” I whispered. “I’m a good warrior. I can fight life and all it brings that I don’t like.” Silence.
“Or, I can claim it all – the good and the bad. I can honor my anger as much as I honor my capacity to love. And, somehow, somewhere I can trust that it is all connected, with a loving, universal wisdom.” Silence.
At what point do we surrender to a life that doesn’t make sense? This one particular January day, I did just that. I let go.
Yes, life is a paradox, with great range – emotional range, experience range, life range. It’s wonderful being in charge of our life – to do, plan, learn, expand and feel it all.
Yet, within, we know that we are part of a greater, eternal, Oneness, beyond anything our minds can grasp. We breathe. The sun comes up and goes down. And on snowy nights, we’re kept safe in the hearts of those that love us and in the homes of strangers who shelter us.
I must say, much about this new departure point is still mysterious – equally exhilarating and scary. The voice deep within the silence reminds me to trust the connection to what I cannot see. And, many days, my physical being is not quite convinced and reminds me that I am well-practiced at making things happen.
Guess that’s the beauty of the range – I’m all of it.
“Night cancels the business of day. Then the day cancels the night. Opposites manifest through opposites: in the black core of the heart God created the eternal light of love.” Rumi.
Thanks for reading.