When I started to ask myself bigger questions about my life, I wasn't in an enlightened place. My mind wasn't clear and zen and ready to explore the deeper meanings of my existence. Instead, my mind was a war zone. And I felt low. Really low. I felt as though the emotional events in my life were happening to me rather than me steering my course. I remember being in my bedroom wondering how I got to this place. And as desperate at that sounds, it was that questioning that sparked a curiosity in the possibility of feeling something different. That spark shone a light on the road towards clarity and conscious living.
Conscious living. It sounds very airy fairy doesn't it? Yet if we were to really look at those two words and understand their meaning, we would know that how most of us live isn't what we would define as conscious living. We rush around in a blur of ambitions, of relationships, of responsibilities, of expectations, of disappointments, of successes, that we rarely stop to think about how we are living our life. It's like when we consciously take a deep breath when we realise that how we've been breathing is actually quite quick and shallow, how unconsciously we partake in a necessity of life. Until something happens where we are shaken out of our routines--it can be an event, a moment, a person, or just a feeling--where we finally ask ourselves, is this really what my life is about? And let me tell you, that crack in our unconscious living is the best gift we will ever receive. That is when we start to ask ourselves for more. That is when we start to ask ourselves how we can live feeling more alive.
I came across this quote this morning as I was writing this post: "Rock bottom will teach you more than mountain tops ever will." This week in #Repost, the stories I am sharing with you are about people who have been there and who have learned so much from their struggles. I would go as far as to say that those struggles have been the turning point towards a path that would lead them to living a life that would feel more aligned with who they truly are, who they have always felt they could be--deep down inside, in that unconscious part of themselves. That crack in their unconsciousness created, as these stories show, by intense grief, addiction, or abuse would allow a light of clarity to shine through--a life of meaning coming in to vision.
That's what happened to Alenka Artnik. After enduring a childhood of much pain and sadness she would find herself at the edge of a bridge looking down into the depths of her despair and seeing what she would feel as freedom from the only life that she has known in the water below. She would not jump to her death that day. Yet, water is what would save her. Under water is where she would find her peace and where she would find herself, becoming the greatest free diver the world has ever seen. This piece written by the incredibly talented Xan Rice is a long read but it is worth every second of your time.
Coming to terms with our pain is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. Yet, that pain is our body's way of telling us that something has to change. Many will try to numb that feeling with addictions but as we know, numbness doesn't last forever. It's like when I was given strong painkillers to help me deal with my kidney stones that refused to pass. The drugs eased the pain only for a while until they wore off and that intensity returned. For the American football player Jordan Poyer, his substance of choice was alcohol. In a short film, Poyer talks about how his "rock bottom" would come in the form of one innocent moment that would change his life forever and start him on the road to recovery.
For some, the pain of their past is what inspires their art. The pain becomes a resource from which they can draw upon to heal, to create, whether it is music, paintings, books, and even through acting. For Lady Gaga, channelling her pain is what has helped her to not just portray characters but to also understand their emotional journey. Read about how in House of Gucci, Gaga was able to play a woman who was wounded and betrayed but also one whose actions were driven by rage.
For others, the pain they feel today, like the visceral pain of grief is what defines and guides their motivations on how to live. Whether it is Keanu Reeves who defies any stereotype or expectation on who he should be and only engages with others in the most authentic way he can. Or Iman, who instead of writing about her life with David Bowie has chosen to bottle it . Literally. In a perfume filled with scents that remind her of their life together.
There is something that happens to us when we feel like our way of life is at odds with who we truly are and how we want our life to be. Our mode of being is in conflict with what is happening to us externally. It feels like a tug of war between our present reality and what we feel it is meant to be. That feeling is a clue, urging us to pause and peel away one layer at a time what that conflict is telling us. It is telling us to separate the must-haves in our life from the should-haves. It is telling us to get to know ourselves better by identifying our values and how we can live accordingly.
Andrew Garfield, who found life in the public eye was chipping away at his soul, realised that the fame that came with starring in blockbuster films like Spiderman was the tug of war between the life of emotional exploration through films with the need to be famous in order to get those projects that would mean something to him. A catch 22. It would be the death of his mother that would bring into laser sharp focus what was important to him: to work and live consciously and with mean, telling GQ magazine,
“That thing of when you read a great piece of literature and you feel the author reaching their hand through and putting it on yours and saying, ‘Me too’—it’s that feeling,” he says. When everything else seems a little too big, a little too bright and loud and pointed in the wrong direction, there is still, at the end of the day, this. It’s why you put up with all the other stuff. That existential anxiety dissipates, and you suddenly remember your belonging. You suddenly remember you deserve to be here. There’s no such thing as ‘deserve,’ actually. Deserve is a construct. We’re here. And we’re meant to be here. And so let’s be here fully.”
Our life is in the details. What details do you see in yours?