“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing
There is a field
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
The world is too full to talk about.”
This past weekend, while talking to a friend, I realized he used to love me. I had also loved him. The realization that someone I actually cared about and respected could see me in such a light opened my heart, I physically felt a popping, as if a flood gate had been broken or the door of a musty room opened to allow light in. I entered a place of heart I had not been before. I don’t know why I didn’t understand that I could be loved, that is a story for another time.
But with the realization also came the understanding that many interactions I have engaged in with guys have come from a place of insecurity, I have rarely pursued anything I actually wanted, and have allowed myself to be with people who have been assholes to me. When I understood this I felt an immense sense of loss and regret. I had had love in front of me and had let it go…I bawled for hours, screaming high-pitched guttural noises, it was the only way my body could release the pain of the self-loathing I had felt over the years.
Still, I couldn’t get over the sense that I had lost something irrevocable and felt terribly depressed the past few days. Then today, I had the thought, so you have lost but here you are okay. And I knew it was true, I had lost something but here I was, okay.
This made me think, what is loss? And I see we are constantly losing. I have lost friends, lovers, animals, weight, strength, memories, yesterday, I have lost my childhood, my teenage years, my college years….To live is to lose constantly.
So what remains? Each of these things may have passed but I experienced each one. The experience remains and returns.
At the most superficial level we can say every moment of our existence is unique. Our existence constantly takes on a different form, a different appearance and thus we constantly lose. But with each experience comes a feeling. In truth, most of our feelings, the layer just beneath the outward form of our experience, repeat. It is so easy to forget the day to day because from the perspective of feeling we literally repeat our lives over and over again. The memories that stand out in my mind are times that I really felt something different, mystery or joy or love, awe, wonder, anger or sadness. The times I was touched by how someone moved a hand or answered a question.
When we are interested in a person, it is because we believe we could share a certain experience with them, that is love, and however deep love can go. We get sad when someone who we like doesn’t like us, but in truth we would never want to be with someone who doesn’t share our feelings, because it takes two to tango. If feelings are not mutual the experience that we desire cannot be reached, it is simply the nature of the experience. When you lose a person you lose the potential experience you could have shared with them, the feelings you could have and the understanding you gain by being with them.
When we get attached to a person we confuse that person, in other words a form, with our own potential for experience. We think a person can give us an experience. Rather it is the relationship between us and another that sparks a latent potential in us both. It is literally impossible to lose love. Love is so deep it is shared by every single person, every being, in the entire universe. The potential for delving deep into love is within every single one of us. I know that deep place within myself where I one day hope to meet someone. That place always remains for us to access again and again through different forms.
This doesn’t just apply to love. I assert that the deeper an experience is, in other words the more alive we feel during an experience and the more it is worth having, the harder it is to lose. These deep feelings are the stuff that simply everything is made up of, that is why when we feel deeply, even deep sadness, we feel connected to everything that is. Our potential to feel deeply remains with us forever.
Yet every form does have its own unique character. Here’s a simple example. I found the perfect burrito in New Haven. I probably will never encounter that flavor again but I will experience the feeling I felt while eating that burrito, that is the experience of joy or pleasure that we can get from relating to food. Although the burrito was lost, this feeling will return. Every being (by this I literally mean anything that exists) has its own unique flavor, but the experience of truly connecting with another being’s flavor, the diverse feelings that lie deep within the experience, will be felt again.
The experience, of course, won’t take exactly the same form. In different relationships the words, the gestures, the sights and the sounds will certainly be different. And some of the less deep feelings will be different. Someone you are with might make you laugh a little more, someone might make you think a little more. But I think at the core, every relationship moves toward the same thing. It doesn’t matter who you are with as long as they are willing to go to a deep place with you. As long as you are capable of going there together.
But humans are not tabula rasas. We click with certain human and nonhuman beings. We each have certain structures that allow each of us to experience deep feelings through connecting with different forms. I, for example, connect with words and feel deeply through writing this. We, like elements, can bond in certain ways but not in others. Yet we are all truly looking for the bond.
My friend who had once loved me, also asked if it was important to be unique. The form of our lives is unique no matter what, to access these deep feelings we have to each take our own unique path. We are each made to encounter love or whatever feeling in a different way. But the inside experience of the path is very much the same, or at least has the potential to be the same, from person to person. From my interaction this weekend I gained the experience of deep regret and failure which I know people have felt throughout time. We all possess the potential for the same deep indestructible feelings and I believe at the core we are all looking for the same thing. Practically, we need to become very aware of how we are feeling in any situation so that we can understand what forms and what beings move us towards deeper experience. It is then our choice to follow our own unique path, to interact with the unique forms that move us towards love, or to remain in endless stagnation, attached to forms who, with their constantly changing nature, hide us from how static we have become.
(Thank you to my friend Kezia for writing a blog post on experience, to my mom for showing me something Christopher Alexander had written in the Nature of Order on the similarity of human feeling, to Stacy Vajta for energy healing, and to my friend for sharing his life, these events all coincided so that I could write this.)