Eating the Bear
by Christina Carson
I’m at that point in my life where I am beginning to lose people, at least from this earth anyway. A dear friend from university days made a sudden exit last week. Selfishly, I wish she hadn’t left just yet, for we had only reconnected a few years back. Her passing put me in a thoughtful state. (Yes, I know most everything does, doesn’t it?) And I began to look again at the conditioning we humans receive regarding the aging process. In two words, it’s crummy. I’m talking about how we’ve been taught to view aging, not the aging itself. To go beyond that conditioning offers fertile ground for growth—a challenge in your later years of something to rise beyond. For life isn’t worth much without challenge, and our end point is the one challenge we can’t avoid. So let’s veer off from the gloomy direction this blog appears to be taking and look at that conditioning, to see what can be done about it.
Fear is the bear, and in old age the number of questions that can arise that can scare the heebie-jeebies out of you begins to feel rather daunting. So the answer to this challenge of later years is to eat the bear. This doesn’t mean to attempt to dismantle thoughtfully and rationally each fear as it jumps in front of you like some crazy character from the Fun House. Rather it invites us to open to a new view, one that lives outside the conditioning, one where fear doesn’t reside. Since we play the “what if” game with fear all the time: What if I get sick, what if I’m alone, what if…. What might happen if we instead played the “what if” card where Reality is concerned, the real way life works. What if I actually have all the resources I need to move through whatever confronts me? What if I could be open enough that I actually begin to lose a sense of where I end and the universe begins? What if I called that Love? I’ll tell you what would happen, you old thing, you’d have the affair of a lifetime.
Everyone wants a manual. They want the 3 steps, the perfect process they can carry like a tray of desserts to each hungry hour. The good news is that it is impossible to lose yourself or your resources. But in an era marked by a plague of choices, we often make the wrong ones. The Truth: there really is only one choice that matters amongst them all—to want to know what you truly are and what naturally accrues to you as a result of that. If we want to know that more than we want to suffer, we’ll eat the bear. In the words of dear Hafiz who doesn’t lie:
This is the time for you to deeply compute
the impossibility that there is anything
From “Now is the Time” as it appears in The Gift by Daniel Ladinsky
With special thanks to Daniel Ladinsky who brings dead sacred poets to life like no one else can.
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