Jan 21, 2018 by


The Tale of Orpheus

My son is a good little Buddha who calls me out when I’m not present in the moment and knows his mythology. A couple of weeks back he was telling me the story of Orpheus, the legendary musician, poet, and prophet in Greek mythology. Orpheus could charm all living things with his lyrical music.

The most famous story of Orpheus is his charming of Hades to pull his wife Eurydice from the underworld after she dies in her efforts to escape a Saytr. Upon his charming of Hades, he is allowed to escape to earth with Eurydice under one condition. He cannot look back until they both reach the upper world. But he can’t. He is so consumed with anxiety about the perfection of their reunion that he turns for one look, and just in that moment poof, she’s gone forever.

I’ve always thought this tragedy represented more than just what’s on the surface. It’s not just a tragic love story or a temporary triumph of purity over Hades. It seems to be a story of human frailty. Of the fear of loss, of both something external, but of a part of ourselves. Of a lack of faith in ourselves and our lack of control over our circumstances. And in the final analysis, it’s the human need for attachment and how difficult it is to walk through this world and truly engage in the Buddhist practice of letting go of attachment. Because we don’t ever really hold on to something, even our own physical bodies, and the moment we’re afraid we grip too tight, we manifest what we’re afraid of (definitely a blog coming up on that topic), our old wounds get ripped open, our old behaviors come roaring into full bloom, and poof what we are desperately trying to hold onto is gone forever.

So what does this mean for a human life? For our little terrestrial souls as we walk through our precious moments on this planet? It seems to come down to trust. Trust that you’ll find the purpose in what’s happening and not to be anxious and look back and manifest exactly what you’re afraid of. Trust that you have the power to bring beauty directly from the deepest depths and that beautiful things will follow if you only trust they will. And if they don’t they weren’t meant to be so looking back for them will not cast them in concrete.

So here’s my question: “What can you trust? What can you be sure of? Both within yourself and within others?” The goal is to find that core of who you are, who others are and be so centered that you just trust without second-guessing yourself. This is insanely hard in real time. And it’s just a goal. You and I and all humans will never achieve it. It’s the journey that’s important, not the goal. What can you tell yourself today that you can trust and be sure of? One small phrase. Could be as simple as: “I will always do what it takes no matter the circumstances to experience joy enough to have one small smile every day.” And truly believe that. And keep that promise to yourself. Or make a promise to a friend and know that they can trust in that promise without looking back. I know it’s small. It’s the smell of a flower. The memory of something precious. The warmth of the sun. Because once you have a little bit of trust, you’ll exercise that muscle, and pretty soon you’ll be navigating this world without fear of looking back and manifesting what you’re afraid of.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale




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