In my twenties I dreamt of a journey to a remote part of the world, somewhere desert-like with cliffs and caves, where I would find seclusion and may seek enlightenment. Basically I saw becoming a hermit as only career option that felt attractive. Existence seemed nonsensical and I couldn’t see how the hell am I supposed to perform within its rules and regulations. I wanted out. Out of my body and the responsibilities that came with it.
Strive for spiritual experiences became my master plan of escaping this realm. My curiosity for spirituality was driven by genuine desire to understand the deeper layers of existence. But what fueled this strive with passion was my escapism. I could touch upon something deeper when connecting with nature, but I didn’t know how to incorporate that experience into my daily life. On daily bases I took refuge in religious studies, philosophy, intellectual disputes, making myself further more at home up in my head, leaving my physical and emotional body empty, alienated and alone. That fed the nameless longing within which I could not intellectualize away. It became my torturer and my muse and finally forced me to leave the life I was living.
I traveled to a faraway island and started painting. By doing things with my hands – painting – guided by my emotional self rather than intellectual - I took the first step on my journey out of the head down into my heart. When painting I always discover something new about myself, which is not really new, but rather something long forgotten or something I was trying to escape. It's a self awareness practice, as I am sure I have said many times before.
Then I got into dancing. Dancing lead me to discover the physicality of my being and how the emotions that are stored within my physical body speak, even if I don't listen. All the dreams and despairs they live on in my body, and perhaps even not only my own, but also those of my ancestors as well.
The most fascinating spiritual practice that I came across was telling my truth of the given moment. By tuning into what’s true for me in the present I came in touch with who am I – the consistent chain of processes constituting me – the slow unfolding, the constant change of the same beingness that I have only just started getting to know.
Today I recognize that the spiritual journey lies within the earthly walk. We cannot renounce the world and claim to be spiritual – well, I cannot – I call that spiritual bypassing. I believe that the depth of spirituality hides in the totality with which we incarnate our physical being and embrace responsibility that comes with it. If I bear within me a drive to make art, raise children or garden, then that is what I need to attend, the best I can, owning the impact my choices have on those that are affected by them. Perhaps the daily experience of being a human, with all its nitty-gritty hustle, hopes, dreams and despair is the most spiritual experience there is to be had.
I believe we come into this world with a certain task that we can accomplish through owning this life that we chose for this incarnation. Our incarnation is not random; it is the exact layout we need to work through to achieve what we came here for. And if we seek spiritual elevation instead of mundane participation, we abandon our incarnation, our soul, our path. For it is not anywhere out there, on the contrary, it is right here, in the very core of our being. All the spiritual dimensions are accessibly through tuning into what lies on the inside, waiting for us to uncover it. And at the same time - if it is the elevation we yearn at the very core of our being, it must be necessary experience for us in order to truly be who we came here to be.
I don’t wish to deny the beauty of connecting to spiritual dimensions - beauty in itself is already a reason enough to seek it. I just emphasize that the spirit within myself and within another right next to me, provides endless range of spiritually awakening experiences, once we step up to be present to the depth of what is really unfolding here. Everything within and around us has its spiritual dimension, we just need to recognize it, understand the impact it has and the impact our doings and non-doings have, take responsibility for what we can change and kindly accept what we cannot. Spirituality is nowhere out there, it is here, everywhere. It can be found in the art of painting, building houses or raising children as well as in meditative seclusion.
I have been living what can be called an escapist life for quite a while. I did not travel to the land of deserts and caves to seek enlightenment. I ended up on a lush paradise island instead. But I've experienced quite a lot of seclusion and I did get to have few enlightening moments - not necessarily while in seclusion though. Each time as I finish a painting or I sit down to write, when I forget myself dancing, or feel safe to express my vulnerable truth, I've seen through another veil that has been covering my eyes and shadowing my mind.
Painting and writing are the practices that have been supporting me on this journey of self-awareness through all this time. They are my way of stepping into who I am and what am I here for. They’ve helped me to realize that I want to be me, fully me, no more escaping. And similarly the act of openhearted interaction with another - may it be my cleaning lady who speaks no English or an intimate friend - has been great source of self-awareness, only these lessons come loaded with often triggering emotions.
It’s the escaping that makes existence nonsensical; the meaningful existence lies within the full embodiment of my incarnation. And that means owning all the choices I’ve made, all that I’ve created and what I didn’t. It hasn’t unfolded as I imagined, but it is all beautiful to me for it is the truth of me. In the end only The Great Spirit knows what’s what. My job is to do my best at being me, living according to my gut and heart feeling, my better judgement and most reverent convictions.
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Ps I cannot emphasize enough how creative practice of painting and writing again and again teaches me reverence – I can truly never perceive out of my own knowing what will unfold as I sit down to serve the muse. And that means that if I never know the depth of my own self, I can never really know the depth of the other nor the true scope of the situation at hand. It is a lesson in reverence. Does it come handy? – Not unless it comes with a belief that the world works to my favor. But it explains a lot why I am as I am and possibly also how could I shift from being a fatalist into being an opportunist :)