Poor is the one who cannot appreciate what one has.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I walked through the winter storm, which fell upon us here in Victoria on February 11, 2019, feeling as if the universe was expressing for me things I could not. What a wild thing to share time with a storm that seems to totally get you – but at the same time – doesn’t give a crap about you or your feelings!
Untempered Nature; you’re so learny.
As I walked with a mangled heart – told in far too many overt and insidious ways that I am not good enough – I couldn’t help but see a direct parallel between the harsh, cold words spoken, and the stinging, blustering wind and snow that blinded me as I walked. Both stung terribly and forced my tearing eyes shut as I fought against their icy, prying fingers, wearing me down and tearing me up, forcing me to duck and cover, digging like spikes into that deepest well of fears and insecurities, finding every weakness in my layers.
A different way to say it: Ouch. Human cruelty sucks. Like the sound of a rusty snowblower rolled contemptuously over nails on a chalkboard somehow, for some reason. The kind of vibe that makes every drum in your body shudder in atomistic disgust like there’s a Portuguese Man-Of-War jellyfish trying to squirm under your hair follicles. Devil level treble on an otherwise smooth and funky bass line.
Anyway, with my dorky SpongeBob pompom hat and my little red gloves with the hole in the thumb, I was geared up with cheery, warm reminders that I have layers between me and the cold ‘it’, and so I opened my eyes and stopped to take a picture.
The water in the fountain at the back side of the Legislature was completely frozen, in this big heap of magical ice. The statues of the birds on top and in front of the fountain – solid and frozen in both stone and time – were covered in layers of soft snow, and the water in the pool beneath the main fountain was glassy and still; filled with chunky clumps of ice and brilliant whiteness. Amazingly, the little sprinklers of water around the ‘main bird’ kept shooting upwards, defying gravity and the icy temperatures, and they sounded almost as if they were giggling with delight. So I giggled too.
I found a lovely union there: Between the stillness of the frozen fountain water and the likewise feeling in my heart. Between the standstill wingspan of those stone cold birds, and the time-stopping callousness of some stone-cold words. Between the high velocity, stinging, movement of the wind and water and the equally blinding and blurring thoughts that swirled around my head. In the deepening snow which owned my path and pushed me to create a channel in that deepness, I walked away from the temporary snow castles of berating assholes in my mind, and towards the grounded fondness of my true Self which is Kind.
I walked slowly through the storm and smiled at every face I passed, until I reached my old and reliable friends – mostly dead poets and philosophers – those who pondered the esoteric things which take up most of my ROM n RAM, and within these walls and pages and data-banks, I found a book which rightly left hooked me right in the brain.
I will share a passage from ‘Of Peace of Mind‘, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
“The position in which I find myself more especially (for why should I not tell you the truth as I would to a physician), is that of neither being thoroughly set free from the vices which I fear and hate, nor yet quite in bondage to them: my state of mind, though not the worst possible, is a particularly discontented and sulky one: I am neither ill nor well. It is of no use for you to tell me that all virtues are weakly at the outset and that they acquire strength and solidity by time, for I am well aware that even those which do but help our outward show, such as grandeur, a reputation for eloquence, and everything that appeals to others, gain power by time. Both those which afford us real strength and those which do but trick us out in a more attractive form, require long years before they gradually are adapted to us by time. But I fear that custom, which confirms most things, implants this vice more and more deeply in me. Long acquaintance with both good and bad people leads one to esteem them all alike. What this state of weakness really is, when the mind halts between two opinions without any strong inclination towards either good or evil, I shall be better able to show you piecemeal than all at once. I will tell you what befalls me, you must find out the name of the disease.”
I don’t know what to call the disease. But perhaps it stems from the honest search for wellness itself, in a world which ceaselessly insists on punctuating what’s ‘not good enough’, and pushes us to behave like wanting, selfish ingrates, or like metaphorical ‘dragon-chasing’ addicts, rather than encouraging us to simply be at peace with who we are and what we have. For real, I mean. Not like something we can buy online for just $9.99; like a lost flock of wired-in, ‘easy button’ search engines; gateways to an endless stream of immediately gratifying nothingness and inevitable failed attempts to fill the high-level void with low-level things we don’t even know we don’t really want.
I am certain of little, but to be able to walk through and trudge a path, and smile at the other – at the dis-ease itself – at one’s Self, amid and despite the storm and onslaughts of human coldness, is to heal the dis-ease.
Also, if others don’t think we’re good enough, that’s a reflection on how they see themselves, not on those they project their words onto.
So blessed be the storm; for it reveals to us exactly who we are.
Photo by Mary Rose – All Rights Reserved