In isolation the mind begins to wander the landscape. In this case, the landscape of a global pandemic. We are social creatures and by being so, we need each other. We experience joy from sharing the lives of others in a real world. We prioritize many of our activities based on friends and family, based on the next outing or gathering with those we love. When this is curtailed, as it has been now, many are at a loss, being deprived of these significant and not so significant “others” in our lives. Because, there is no one that does not truly matter. We are human. What then do we prioritize when confronted with ourselves, alone?
We all need food, shelter, clothing and such. It’s not too hard to define these essentials, but what of a more profound purpose? Do we live to eat, sleep, inhabit a planet, day after work-a-day. Life can lose its meaning in the drudgery of a daily grind when we are left alone to ponder too long without human comfort. While many, out of work and in great need, have little opportunity to contemplate much beyond their basic needs, is it a luxury to expect something beyond our ken?
What is at the heart of our priorities, beyond the mundane? To love and be loved? To survive at all costs? What determines our potential and our purpose?
I have been a lifelong artist. Drawing since I was a child, and writing as long, and always in a quandary about the way in which we treat each other … over the years, seeing people dealt preferentially as though they were somehow more, or less important based on the color of their skin, ethnicity, sex, age or circumstance. All of us, a small part of a larger picture. What is it all about? Survival of the fittest as Darwin proposed? Who are we, any one of us, in the larger plan?
Are we being made aware in the outcries of people so long abused, an environment so sorely used, that something has gone wrong and that perhaps we don’t really know ourselves all too well. In isolation, faced with our very souls, can we say that we have done our best with what we were given?
There is a joy to being part of a group in which you feel loved … but do we, in effect, delay our own development, and that of society, by refusing to stand up, for fear of reprisal? We go along to get along, as a rule, and punish those who don’t fit the mold in some form or another. As a result there is a somewhat homogeneous society that is subservient to the rule of the powerful, making change sometimes impossible. The pressure to “fit in” is enormous.
What does one do after spending a lifetime betraying the one person, the only person we have any control over in this life? What do we do to determine our true priorities and potentials in the midst of other people’s opinions and priorities? Does it take isolation in a pandemic to focus our attention on the truth of our own existence; and what will we find?
We most often believe what we’re told as children. Depending on our own circumstance, these beliefs can help us grow, while some may hold us back and, depending on our own natures, can also lead us on a life-long search for understanding. Beliefs from childhood may not be rational and can lie deep in a subconscious of untested assumptions, affecting our lives in profound and sometimes very harmful ways. We become powerless to change them unless we face them at the core. A difficulty compounded by the fact that many of these beliefs are protected by fear based strategies. What if I had tested these early on and confronted the fact that I was not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own? That caring for myself was the ground upon which all change is possible. The beginning and the end. From the bottom, all.
In my search for happiness, I fell upon three goals that Einstein felt worthy above all. These were truth, beauty and kindness. I wondered why he didn’t mention love and, as I grew, came to understand that he had defined the essence of love in these three words. Those who deal with others on a level of this magnitude, know true beauty.
In our daily lives, every day, we have these challenges. Even the mundane things we do are choices and these choices involve an attitude that encompasses our lives. What do we find worthy of our attention?What is essential and what is not? How to decide? Our yearnings are there for a reason. When we’re hungry, lonely, angry, sad, happy or fearful, nervous, grateful, ashamed … these are all flags telling us what is needed, what not, what our bodies and souls require at any given moment. To discount these signals is a mistake. To address them, understand them, essential to our natures and, truly, the good of the whole planet.
There are those who sacrifice themselves to a cause and enjoy it; deny their own pain and their needs and march on. How much more could we all do if we listened more. Not only to the needs of others, but to our own needs as well and, by doing so, complete the circle. In the end, we are always left alone with that one person that requires our acceptance more than any other, the only one who will shadow you all your life. Have we done right by the life we were given.
If we fail ourselves, in the end, there’s a toll to pay and a reckoning … a life betrayed. Was it one fulfilled or left in a quandary with regrets that haunt? Did we embrace our friends or turn to welcome our foes who only pretended and played at being friends? How can we presume to love anyone if not ourselves, first?
We have choices. We make these choices based on many factors, but at the core of this are two. One who observes and knows, another who assesses and draws conclusions based on what has been taught and experienced. Both need to be reconciled and integrated into an environment lived, but not at the expense of the truth. Who we are, truly, can never be sidetracked for expedience, the will of others, or pleasure of a transient nature without losing the only thing that really matters.
What is this “one thing” and why does this matter? Words are difficult in describing something as monumental as a soul. What does it weigh? What does it look like – how does it “exist” and how can anything be no-thing and still be?
We see with our eyes and know in our hearts. We read, write, and know through experience, action. Seeing is believing; but not didactically. We all understand in our own way. Most things are more than their descriptions, more than their elements. We know this without words. And so, the truth of a living creature, more than the sum of it’s parts. There are some that believe we are just that, no more than the sum of our parts. But each layer that unfolds finds another layer equally profound. The search goes on infinitesimally.
Is the soul a bio-mechanical substrate to a physical structure? Explainable in neuron connections and chemical reactions? Is the soul simply a name for this unknown? Does it really matter whether we can break it down into words, descriptions that we can catalog into a book of known “fact”? Is it enough that we feel the presence of something beyond our knowing? Can we respect the truth that calls us into action?
I was born whole with desires and a personality that have changed little since that date. There have been lessons and layers of etiquette and rules placed, desires swayed and constricted to comply and to get along, to grow in knowledge, to open and expand awareness, to narrow and focus. We grow into an environment willingly and unwillingly. We broker our lives so that we may live and enjoy the company of others, so that we may express ourselves – some truly and some not so. Life is a battleground of lives lost, lives lived fully and not so fully; but without truth, a soul cannot be mended.
Why some would want to destroy for the sake of cash, the babble of a market hellbent on profit at all costs, can be understood by one universal fact. Marketeers who disregard the laws of nature and those who deal in violence of all kinds have betrayed themselves and lost their souls. Believing that love is a fool’s choice and a lie, they don’t love themselves and can’t love anyone else. These are the ones that lost faith for lack of love, and betrayed their child’s heart. They’ve misdirected their own yearning into a scheme to define themselves in monetary terms. The more money, the better. Beyond necessity, beyond all.
Love or lack of, a powerful force in all our lives. Do we love to fulfill procreative purposes, prolong the survival of a species? Do we love to maintain social units in a greater plan? We are. We live. We are inspired and move with the wind in a tide of humanity. What does life hold for any if not finally to “be”, respecting ourselves, each and everyone … building upon a foundation of acceptance and truth? Our senses direct us at every fork in the road, if we pay attention. To be deaf to that drumbeat, and disrespectful of the love in view creates a void.
To understand ourselves better is to respect the process of living in accordance with our true natures and life on this planet. Our senses lead the way. We know in our gut when our actions bode ill. Our emotions tell us every moment if we are moving toward health and well-being as individuals and as a species. To ignore our souls is to create dis-ease.
Most of us realize that we may not recognize a lie; but we all, without exception, know the truth, no matter the form. At its core this strikes us universally, because we sense those things deeply that are life-affirming; and we retain memories of those times when our senses were awakened in moments of beauty. Isolation in this world-wide pandemic makes it even clearer that the soul is this…the beauty we sense and the truth we acknowledge. Acceptance is everything.
Anita Suzanne Tillemans
June 29, 2020 / rev. December 25, 2020