“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
There are days I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Today is such a day.
Not the weight of unmet deadlines, critical remarks, or lost friendships. But the weight of pain—the loneliness in a stranger’s eyes, the heartache of the childless mother, the quiet suffering of the voiceless.
I become consumed by the pain of all those I’ve never met and most likely never will. Eckhart Tolle refers to this as the “pain-body,” which he says we all carry within us. It’s the collective pain of humankind.
Most of us walk around unaware of it, but it’s there.
On days like this I want to crawl under the bed covers and avoid, forget, numb it. I want to be as far away from the pain-body as possible. It’s like a black cloud that envelops my soul and tightens my chest. It’s too much to bear.
I want to cry, because it’s the only way I know to release the pain.
And then the miracle shows up. Or rather, I show up to invite it in. I take a chance, I go to that new group I’ve been avoiding, I treat my husband differently, I reach out to an old friend, I write that blog post I’ve been putting off. At the root of it, I make a different choice. I take the road less traveled by, as Robert Frost says, and “that has made all the difference.”
You see, when it’s all said and done we can’t place the responsibility of changing our life or changing the world on anyone else but ourselves. When we show up courageously to face our own pain, we in turn show up for the pain of the world. When we heal a part of ourselves, we are healing a little piece of the world. But it begins by showing up, making a different choice, acknowledging the pain that is staring us in the face.
The beauty of miracles is that they are always and ever present and accessible. We merely have to create the space to invite them in. And creating the space can be anything from clearing some of the clutter in our souls that’s rotting us from the inside out, or choosing to walk away from an unhealthy relationship. The catch is we must first act, take a step, and move in the direction of the miracle.
We meet it halfway, between where we are now and where we’d like to be.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi
Miracles are our birthright. They are as natural as the very air we breathe. We just stopped believing in them long ago. We let our more rational selves talk us out of expecting them. ‘Life’s more predictable that way, we have more control,’ we tell ourselves.
Then why are so many people living lives of quiet desperation? Why are we drowning in discontentment?
Because joy does not stem from a more controlled life.
Joy comes from freedom—the freedom to be authentically who we are, the freedom to speak our mind, the freedom to live according to our own rules without harming anyone else, no matter how unconventional the rules may seem to others.
The miracle of being alive is found in our shared humanity. In holding each other’s pain tenderly, without judgment, and simply saying ‘I understand.’ In creating a sacred space for us to coexist. We are not called to solve each other’s problems or find the one to blame. We are called to bear one another’s burdens with a heart of compassion and kindness. We are granted the opportunity to lift up our brothers and sisters in every moment that we meet them. What a challenging and yet paramount duty this is.
We are midwives to each other’s unfolding, to birthing a new consciousness rooted in love. This is our work in the world.
The real miracle—the one we have been waiting for—is incredibly more simple than we realize. It’s a shift in perception, a new way of looking at the same thing. Gazing at a blade of grass, the root of a tree, the face of a stranger, and seeing the entire universe embedded within. Watching the sunset and feeling connected to the oneness that holds us all.
That’s the miracle—seeing something for what it truly is, underneath all the layers, masks, and labels. And ultimately coming to the realization that you are the miracle.
Yes, you, in all your magnificent mess and unfinished glory. You in your neurotic splendor and imperfection.
Show up as you are and the miracle will manifest through you. Through ripped jeans and messy hair and wrinkled hands. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care. It merely wants to appear and chart you on a different course, the one that will make you whole…the one that will guide you and I home.
Author: Anokina Shahbaz
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: rachelerin at Flickr