“On the ego level, suffering stinks. On the soul level, suffering is an act of grace. It shows us where we’re stuck.” RamDass
When I hear these words I am sitting comfortably on the sofa of a lovely woman I’ve just met who is part of the course I am taking on the gifts of aging.
My pen stills. My hands grip my notebook tightly for fear I might drop it.
I take a deep breath. My body stills itself as sound and sight recede and I become conscious of the truth revealing itself in the words I’ve just heard.
They pierce my body with the violent force of a one-two punch to the solar plexus.
Told you so! My critter mind rejoices, raising its stubby arms in a victory punch to the universe. Suffering is not good. Avoid it at all costs.
Ahh! Sighs my soul with contentment. Suffering is the gateway to deepening your awakening. Follow it. Breathe into it. Feel it with your whole being.
Resistance is futile. Give into the truth.
I watch myself reading the words as I write them. I see myself observing my reflection of their meaning as I sit part of and apart from the circle of four women gathered for the second session in the course on aging with grace we are exploring together.
It is what we must do if we are to begin to acknowledge a deeper part of our consciousness, RamDass counsels. We must learn to become conscious of being the observer of our observers. We cannot know what we do not know until we still our ego’s need to overwhelm its fear of not knowing everything by convincing itself it knows everything. Ego cannot know the possibility of all it cannot know.
It is the hallmark of our human journey. We push. We pull. We sway between attraction of all we know and aversion of all we do not know. Seldom do we allow the space between to become known.
I am stretching you, RamDass says.
Yes, he is.
Stretching me into being conscious of the spaces between. Known and unknown. Pushing and pulling. Attraction and aversion. Holding on and letting go.
We are each of us living out ‘the story’ that is us. I am living out the ‘Louise’ story, growing into the depths of my capacity to embrace myself in that space where the struggle and suffering of my human journey becomes my path to being conscious of the pure joy of being alive knowing that, living is the moment by moment art of finding grace in dying.
We gathered again last night. Four women of a certain age exploring together what it means to be aging at this certain age in our lives.
Perhaps the truth of what is happening to our bodies, our minds, our capacity to do, or not do, what we’ve always done, was in the words of one of the women in our circle. “I’m just grateful to know I’m not alone in all of this.”
Me too. I am grateful for the knowing that I am not alone on this journey. I am grateful for the path unfolding before me as we travel together on this adventure of our lifetimes, learning to embrace and release, hold on and let go of, living and dying with grace.