“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
We know so much but understand so little.
We work (always) on our outer creation but pay little attention to our inner 'self'.
And we never, or very rarely, question who or what it is that's ailed by so much in the world.
In my case, as I've explained many times — sorry dear reader — I was obsessed with making my life better by working,...and working,...and working some more, on my craft. Quite where I was headed, I've no idea. I mean, I can say that I was eventually Chief Executive Officer of a law firm but I'm left with this overriding sense of, "so what...!". How sad is that!
What if, instead, someone, early on, had told me in a kind and loving way that the real work was internal to the person.
"...the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self." — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, p.31
This isn't idle speculation. It's genuine. It's not so much a case of 'what if?' but instead to understand why so few people — no one in fact — in my family, friendship group (very small) and especially in a work setting ever said to me:
"Yes, but who is the person that's driven so hard to achieve? Who are you, really?"
Of course, I might have brushed such existential nonsense to one side but then again, and with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been much more sympathetic to my troubled soul than to fall in line with my maniacal obsession with work. That really was the line of least resistance — as hard as it is for me to accept that given the very real human cost it exacted on me and my family.
Sorry, this all sounds so pathetic.
Why oh why...?
To think, it took a near-death experience for me to wake up from my narcissistic torpor! I'm convinced, not in a remotely woo-woo way, that someone or something was telling me something very profound.
"Wake up, wake up...!"
And by god I've done that but not before being broken asunder, particularly as regards my childish approach to life. Yes, that's right. I think it's all rather silly the fact that we feel so important in what we do (what the hell is a job title anyway but a contrivance to keep us hemmed in by a moribund and unnecessary set of rules) and yet never question who or what we are at the deepest, most profound level.
I accept that this is all very personal but just once in a while it might pay us to lift our weary souls of the canvass of life and go beyond the 'what's-it-all-about?' line of enquiry and dig much deeper; namely, as I've said so many times, to ask who is the 'I' or 'me' that's so deeply troubled by never finding happiness, contentment or love — or whatever else is arising?
If I could go back and speak to my twenty-something self, I'd politely ask him to sit with the anger and hurt and invite a more beautiful question than all those that filled his vision-question for a life of success and material wealth. Chief among those would have been:
"OK, Julian, once you get to the promised land, what then? What then?"
Who knows, but I might have saved myself a lot of time climbing a ladder leaning profoundly against the wrong bloody wall.
Anyhow, I've got a busy day of legal work coming up. It goes like that sometimes — all or nothing. As they say, time waits for no man.
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