Circle of Life

Mar 27, 2016 by

Circle of Life

Circle of Life

This one is very personal for me. It’s about, loss. It’s about grief. It’s about the beginning, the middle and the end. It’s about the circle of life, and not just the comic book rendition from the Lion King: Birth, the loss of innocence, the ascent to power, and the gradual move towards the end. This is about how we bring things into our lives and how we interact with those things from the moment they touch us until the moment they set us free. The true circle of life.

I’m going through transitions right now. Personal transitions, relationship transitions, transitions as a parent, physical transitions, professional transitions. And most if not all of these transitions we’re set in motion by my own hand. Yep, I lit all of these fires myself. And I’m off balance. I’m usually pretty good at, being comfortable being uncomfortable. But the number and intensity of the fires I’ve lit are so consuming that I haven’t given myself any safe space.

That got me wondering how to give myself the room to transition without catching on fire myself. And something hit me. I’m watching everything change, I’ve become a good little witness to my own life. But I haven’t given myself the ability to grieve the transitions. That seems to ring true about Grief: Not really feeling it but more witnessing it. At times we feel sadness and loss and mistake those feelings for grief, but those seem to be distinct.

Maybe, if I can understand what grief is, how it can help, and really get down and muddle around in the grief for a while I can let go of the after effects of the fires I set and move forward. So I’m off to understand grief and its place in the circle of life.

grief, noun, 1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or losscaring grief and the circle of life

That’s the dictionary definition. Not really very helpful. Comes from Old French: to burden, encumber and Latin: heavy. Those give me a sense of where it comes from; the weight in which it has which is almost palpable. I saw another definition on the web “the conflicting feeling caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”  That starts to get around to it. It’s a feeling of sadness of a change in what once was. It’s the sadness of the loss of the familiar that we get attached to. And there it is; the problem: attachment. The problem of attachment to what was and the yearning of what was known.

Being mindful of how I’m grieving is the only way I’m going to get through the transitions. And being mindful of my grieving means really understanding the circle of life from a Buddhist point of view. It means that I need to truly feel that all things contain all states. It means that I need to truly feel that when I connect with someone, something, some place, I also am connecting to the moment without those things. That all connections have a beginning, a middle and an end inside of them all at once, and if I can see that then the end is just part of the journey in the first place, just like the beginning is part of the end as well.  Then I won’t be losing the familiar, it will just be a part of the journey. It is the circle of the journey, that I am both never with and never without those connections that is giving me the strength to look to my grieving and let it help. Let my understanding that there is no familiar pattern that I lost, that the pattern was both there and not there all along, that is giving me the ability to both touch the past and drink in the future.

This is going to take time. It is going to take mindfulness. It is going to take allowing myself to feel and to understand that the structure of all things, all relationships, that all interactions are impermanent, that the glass is both beautiful and in tact as well as broken and gone simultaneously.

So here’s my question: “What are you holding on to that is causing you grief?” Could you see that it is the attachment that is causing the sadness and not the connection? Could you feel that sadness of loss only for a moment and bring your attention back to the present moment and let go of that moment of loss? Could you truly revel in the preciousness of this moment without attachment? I know this is hard to do in the heat of battle. But I also know that I must touch my sadness of loss, understand it was there all along, let it go, be in the moment and realize that the happiness and joy I felt when I found that connection are also there for me to tap into.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale

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