As I think about what I believe regarding personal development, or self-knowing, or whatever you want to call it, I keep coming back to Ben & Jock’s "Train Station Story" in The NEW Manual for Life. The point of the story is 2-fold. First, the destination of all of the trains is the same – death. Second, given the destination, it’s stupid to stand around in the train station, waiting for the "right" train.
Many, many people (me too, sometimes) have their lives on hold, waiting for the clouds to clear and for their "special" path to become clear to them. And I have to say, while each person’s path is unique (as in "only that person can walk it") no one is special. Nor is any path special. In fact, it seems to me B & J are right: there are only two states in life – standing around waiting, or on the train, riding.
Engaged or disengaged.
Turned on or turned off.
The solution to one is to do the other.
We refuse to believe it because it seems altogether too simple. A friend showed up on Monday, complaining that she was emotionally dead. We talked about her choices, did a little Bodywork, and while on the table her eyes popped open and she said, "I’m going to make a plan and give it to my husband. I’m so excited!" (The weird piece was that she almost went to annoyance because she judged that I wasn’t excited enough – about her plan!)
Anyway, in the course of an hour or so, her whole life changed.
Well, no, it didn’t.
Nothing changed, except her approach to her issue of "I’m so bored." Actual work (getting on the train) is still required of her, and the jury’s out as to what she does next.
So, what does this have to do with sex, love and compassion? Everything. As I’ve said the past 3 weeks, Osho suggested that there is a continuum from sex through love to compassion, and that seemed, to me, like a nice analogy. To put it another way, developing and maintaining a solid, compassionate relationship requires fortitude, dedication, and a willingness to ride the train.
In a sense, we ride those three trains simultaneously. Sex, for example, needs constant nurturing, appropriate to our age, energy and "turned-on-ness." Where I go wrong is to assume that my sex life is indicative of my love life, or my level of compassion. Each level builds on the one before it, and each level is independent of the other two.
And thus it is with all of life.
In other words, a relationship is not a contest. It’s a journey. Some days it’s blue skies, other days it’s raining. Whining about the gray days is silly. The path isn’t meant to be easy, as there are ups and downs to all of life. The key is the willingness to stay engaged no matter what.
I see a lot of people who consider themselves pretty far up the evolutionary – enlightenment ladder. And yet many of them suck at relationships. I think it’s because they, at some deep level, refuse to understand the work that is involved in maintaining a top-notch relationship. They figure they are so wise and deep that it should "just happen." The truth is, anyone can have a great relationship when nothing is wrong. The mark of wisdom is the ability to stick it out and work it through when the walls are crashing in. Hard work, especially for people who think they have it all figured out.
I much prefer the state I find myself in – where I’m not sure I know much of anything, but am committed to the ride and to the "working through" of the next bump in the road. I’m committed to doing a lot of my work through intimate relationships, and primarily with Dar. That’s my "path." It’s easy when there are no issues, and excruciating when there are, and yet, because of my commitment to the process, excruciating does not equal difficult. It does equal persistence.
The self-reliant person simply shows up for the ride and owns the totality of their experience. I am who I am, and my reality is what I continue to create for myself. The stories I tell myself about that reality are just that – stories. Like my friend, on Monday. Her "actual" life details were no different when she left from what she brought in. All that changed was the story she was telling herself.
I encourage you to stay the path and dig in deeply – your life is all you have, and pissing it away in anger, boredom, ennui or confusion is simply pissing it away. There’s nothing noble about this. Instead, grab your life with both hands and give it, and you, a shake.
Then, get on the train!