It has always seemed to me that when things fall apart, it’s reason to despair. And things always fall apart! Recently it occurred to me: More than anything else, this is the essence of life on earth… things falling apart. Seen another way, life is getting over one obstacle, in order to meet another obstacle to get over, in order to meet another obstacle to get over, and so on. And yet, there’s nothing wrong with the picture. In fact, there’s nothing to despair about.
Albert Camus had a point in “The Myth of Sisyphus.” In many ways, life is simply the process of shouldering the boulder up that hill, only to have it roll back down, again and again, ad infinitum. But in comparing the plight of Sisyphus to the plight of the human being, Camus’ perspective was slightly off. For one thing, after the first time, our rock doesn’t quite roll all the way to the bottom of the hill. And for another, the top of the hill keeps getting higher and higher! In other words, our lessons remain more or less always the same, yet forever evolving along with our consciousness, to higher and higher levels. Ram Dass said it beautifully: “The paradox is that it’s all perfect and it all stinks. A conscious being lives simultaneously with both of those.”
That said, it’s foolish for us to get angry or depressed when something stops working, or disappears from our lives, or breaks and needs to be replaced – or even when something is so far beyond repair that it can’t be replaced, like an old human. It all stinks, but it’s also all perfect. We need to learn to place importance on the insides of a thing instead of on the surface, because it’s the inside where growth occurs. Our essence expands and evolves, growing in wisdom, clarity and courage, even as the shell is chipping off, getting threadbare, and withering away. In order to create this shift in perception, we need a sense of humor – a big one – and we also need to release whatever it is we think we know and surrender to what is. If that sounds like too tall an order, then we’re dinosaurs on the road to extinction and we’d better suck it up.