When a child is born, a child desires much.
There are dreams, there is love, there is fire in the heart. But over the course of few short decades, things change dramatically. The longing for greatness and immortality gives way to a simple desire for a long and relatively healthy life, or rather, existence, in a smaller, safer world – the world where, though there are no great adventures, there is at least peace and comfort. The in-built love for self, and the natural, curious, love for the world changes into a silent hatred of self and of the world, a tragedy beginning with the first pangs of disappointment and culminating in the soul-death so many are living today.
I have come into this world with great longing, but where is my passion today?
We all come here with fire in the chest, with the fierce, uncompromising desire for more – the more that we know deep down that we are, and must be.
But we are, all of us, deceived. For the world today is far from what it should have been, and it cannot, will not, accommodate our glittering, robust hearts. Not only does the world not yield to us, but it indeed turns against us, like a previously calm sea which suddenly roars at the unsuspecting swimmer, turns on him and swallows him forever. But is it the swimmer`s fault for expecting peace on a calm windless day? Is it the child`s fault for awaiting a life of adventure, promise, and hope from the day it comes into it, arms outstretched, eyes open wide, loving and waiting to be loved?
Some time ago, I was watching a documentary on the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author of ‘The Great Gatsby’. As I sat there, following the trail of his lost childhood, my heart leapt. I was startled, as if I was pulled out of deep sleep, and I fixed my gaze on the screen, staring at it with amazement and a growing lump in my throat. The lovely, fair-haired boy whose picture I was seeing before me, had grown up to write something which, whether he knew it or not, came right out of that beautiful, noble heart, the heart whose playful fire could still be seen, glowing through the young dreamy eyes. I could hardly believe it.
‘In my first childish love of myself, I believed that I would never die like other people, and that I wasn’t the son of my parents but a son of a king, a king who ruled the whole world.’
Hot tears, angry and eternal, stemmed out from my bleeding soul and poured from my eyes. I wanted to stroke the hair of the little boy and talk to him, assure him that, yes, he is indeed special, and his desires are true, coming from the truth itself, no matter what the world around him seemed to say. But I could not reach the child. He was far beyond the reach of my trembling hand. It was not the warmth of his hair that my fingers touched, but only the coldness of the screen.
Do you see now…do you believe me now?
Yes, it had been a mistake. You`ve made a mistake by believing the world, you were wrong in letting it tell you who you are, who you should be, and who you will never be, despite the protests of your truthful, noble heart.
It is a world filled with mystery and pain, a world which is as beautiful as it is terrible, a world which is soaked in the good, warm presence of an unseen love which gave that child his desires. It is also a world which is possessed and tormented by an evil power, dark and malicious, filled with hatred unknown to any human. The love, this is normally what our story begins with, and as the darkness, the pain, and the loss chip away at our hearts and their trust and hope, it usually ends in despair, fear, and hatred. Indeed, in a confused, fallen world such as ours, the most awakened, deeply longing people seem to suffer most terribly, as if their hearts, somehow remaining opened by the love and to it, are also opened and vulnerable to the black blade of that hidden attacker that sooner or later strikes at all of us…
Is it any wonder then, that most of us shut their hearts down, retreating into a life of un-feeling, rather than risk staying open to joy but, inevitably, pain as well?
Which one is the better option – to desire and suffer, or to choose the path of safety and trample on the heart, imprison it and make it numb to sorrow and to gladness?
I choose life.
Sadly, most of those who, in their lifetime, chose this life but found no bigger orbit than themselves in the world, have paid the price for taking the right side in this unseen but deadly battle. They did not know they were in a battlefield and, while they were being murdered, they still saw no enemy.
Scott Fitzgerald died before he had entered middle age. His life was filled with sorrow and pain, just like the life of many others who refused to bury their hearts and expressed them, offering to the world the fruits of the tree they themselves had not yet seen.
‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’
This is what Scott wrote as the last line of ‘The Great Gatsby’, and this is what is written on his gravestone, the final line of his short, misunderstood life.
I think that this is what we are doing, to a greater or a lesser degree – trying to recover that which we have lost, that golden something which, if we allow ourselves but a moment of true stillness, will surface in our hearts and fill our eyes with old, long pent-up tears. But I think that it is not the past that we mourn, but rather, the selves we were back then, when the longing was alive and the mysterious love was still present in our hearts and hopes.
What if it is true, and you can know that truth for yourself? What if your story – the light, and the shadow, can begin to make sense, can at last be interpreted in a light different from the gloom of loss? Yes, it is true, it is all true. Your heart was not lying to you, back in those sunlit, carefree days. You, my friend, are immortal. You are your desire, and your desire is you. To go back and recover it, is to recover yourself. To heed the voice of the heart once again, you must first heed the voice of the One that made the heart and its desires. To hear that voice, you must make sure that the voices of duty, obligation, or rationality, even the voices of your faith and religion, are silenced. There is no life unless we allow for our security to be taken from us, and there is no joy unless we recover that which was once lost. Not only do we need to beat on like Scott, fast against the current and into the past, but it is beyond the past where we must go. Dare we…?
Life is not worth living if it will end in loss.
Air is not worth breathing if it will make us old.
A wraith cannot love.
A madman cannot grieve.
Heed the ancient voice.
Walk the ancient path.
And you will find life.