The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them,and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
I have been at it for a long time – for as long as I can remember myself, in fact. I have reached and I have grasped; I have done my utmost to attain the unattainable and to retrieve the irretrievable. And I have failed. And I am still failing, miserably. Over and over again.
But I have also learned a thing or two. Here is what I know…
Humans thirst. We hunger. We long to have that something which has either never been ours, or has indeed belonged to us once, back then, before the beginning of all ages, and it is now beyond our reach. Either way, one thing is certain – we long, we seek, and we are haunted. We are stalked by some unnamed goodness; we are haunted by a hidden joy which, when it does come, is always unexpected and is, sadly, never lasting.
At the dawn of my earthly sojourn, I first became aware of it in the calm, reassuring glow of the sunlit world outside. I saw it in the sense of peace, serenity, and wellbeing; in the feeling of being home, and the unseen but almost palpable promise which was radiated by every sound of birds and crickets and every smell of my childhood home…
It was in that home that I first awoke for the secret life of the heart. It was there that I first observed the wild creatures that so gripped my heart – the insects and the other small ones that crept on the warm, friendly soil of our garden, and the birds that flew high in the vast, welcoming sky – storks, bee-eaters, and hawks. It was in that place, where my first real dreams took place – those mythical visions for a heroic future; the aspirations for a place and role in the world, and indeed for the world. This was also the place where I first felt special.
Again and again, that deep something came to me in those times…a longing for something beyond words, even beyond thoughts. I heard it in the soothing murmur of the rain that fell abundantly in those cool first autumns; I saw it in the wings of the swallows that darted to and fro above my head in the balmy days of my early summers; I smelled it in the scent of the flowers when I came outside in the night – a hopeful soul, hidden under the starry cover of darkness, watching, searching, feeling the world around, enchanted by the miracles of life and the joy of simply…being.
The hunger, awoken in those earliest times, grew within me as I myself grew.
Like all living souls, I did not find a food fit to satisfy my hunger; and when I thought I did, the satisfaction never lasted and I was always hungry again. And, like many, if not all people at times, I began to arrange for more. I tried to catch and keep every one of those things, feelings, and people. I tried to catch those times; the times when all was good around me, as well as within. I tried to seize the day; I tried to capture the moment.
We all know those good times; we have all had them. They are the times when everything seems to come together for us; the moments when all is well in the world and we wish that time itself could stand still and let us savour our joy. It often starts with what may seem like a little thing – a nice conversation with a nice person, spiced by a group of certain tastes, smells and sounds, and suddenly – voila – a door is opened deep within, and a panting, gasping heart is let out to breathe, see, feel and be alive again…
And then it passes.
Monday comes. The night is over. The holiday ends. And we return to the place where we seem to be spending most of our life – the place of labour and of so little joy; the place where there is no room for the heart; the place where a free, childlike soul promises nothing but trouble.
Year after year, I grasped after the wind and so very often I am grasping still – reaching after the passing moment, trying to capture it, or at least make it last longer, just a little longer…
If ever a meal, or a drink, or a film, or a song made me feel like I was having one of those special moment, I always made these things a part of my plans; always kept them in my arrangements for the next special time. I was trying to hold on to the passing time, to keep it, hold it close, as if I was using it like a shield against…what? Against the pain, the heartbreak, and the disappointment that comes even in the happiest human life – from the slow and steady wearing of the soul which comes with long years of being in a job we hate, to the gaping bloody wound caused by a sudden brutal tragedy.
But no matter what I did, I could not capture the moment, and the moment always fled. And the more I tried, the more I failed; I failed not only to capture that one favorite moment, but also to enjoy other moments – those moments that I never looked for and therefore, missed.
My arranging for life made life slip through my grasp, leaving me alone and lonely and filled with sorrow. And, even though a lot of healing and transformation took place in my life in the last few years, and it keeps taking place still, sometimes with a great intensity, I have to admit that I have not yet recovered fully from my propensity to chase that which cannot be caught.
But now, it is different. I now know. I am now at peace, or at least most of my being is, and need less and less of that security which I so desperately sought once.
It was once said to us that whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and although these words were spoken thousands of years ago, they are becoming truer for me with each passing day. And I learned that the promise that I once sensed in the warm air of home, is indeed true.
It is all true – and not only do I believe it now, but I now know it. I know it with the certainty of a man who is lost at sea and knows for sure that if he is not found, he will be dead. Such a man also knows that his lostness only confirms the truth about his own design – that he had once stood on a dry land, happy and free from the deadly grasp of the water, and it is in this freedom where he truly belongs.
I now know that those first whispers of life, that deep longing for greatness – both the greatness within and greatness out in the world – have all been true. True indeed are my deepest hopes.
Dead people do come back to life; dead dreams do too.
It is hard to believe, I know…but look into yourself, dive deep into the realm from which you have been seeking to escape for such a long time – yes, that dark and scary realm within your own self – and you will see…
Why do we like stories that have happy endings? Why do we hope, deep down – perhaps far below the reach of consciousness itself – for a life in which good always wins? Why do most of us love to watch those movies where the hero returns from the battle, perhaps is even raised from the dead, and takes his place in the realm he`s fought to save and among those he loves and love him? Why do we suffer when life is hard? Why do we weep in the face of death and rage when a disaster strikes?
Yes, our revulsion to darkness reveals the Light which made our souls. It reveals who we really are deep down, and where we have come from. We long for eternity; we are made by eternity and for eternity…
Take one advice from me: do not try to capture the moment. Enjoy it, then let it go. What you are seeking is not there – it only speaks to you through that door, the door of your desires; the door of your heart which, though broken, is still alive.
Do not let it die.