Chained to here

When I am in a hurry with no reason, all I want to do is to be not-here. As if some other place would close the gap, fill the void. It is difficult to be here, not thinking about what I will need next or where will I have to be in a few minutes. Here.

Where do I go in such a hurry, if not to another ‘here’? I carry myself with me. There is no ‘there’; wherever I will go I will be with me, an eternal here I cannot run away from. So, I might as well take my time. Or even all the time.

I can understand ‘here’ feels sometimes as a condemnation. We have developed so many tools for evasion, some of them more playful, other more dramatic. We read books, we watch series, we travel. Not just to be somewhere else or feel something else for a few hours. We also do this in an attempt, sometimes desperate, not to be here. But here and now is the only reality that exists.

So the worst trap is the body. We have all been taught that our minds and other virtues are wings we put on, so we get to flying about above ourselves, and we live as if the body did not exist. This happens often with intuitives, with everybody in fact. The body appears to us as a most serious obstacle. It is heavy, and we have a feeling of helplessness about it, as though it were a terrific impediment. Through our mediaeval Christian education the body has gotten a bad name. The hole which one falls into is through the body, and its bodily limitations; then one accuses the body, and the body says “but this is you.”

Carl G. Jung, Dream Analysis 1

For many years I thought that the physical body was a prison and I wished that my soul would float free and fly (flee) somewhere else. A place that would not be here. For many years I thought meditation was a form of evasion from reality. But it isn’t. It is “the skill and art of paying attention”, as explained in this great blog with enviable clarity. For many years I thought mysticism was an evasion from physical reality, the opposite of the tangible world. An infinite universe of simultaneous possibilities for the soul, away from the external threats that imprisoned me. But it isn’t. On the contrary, it is full immersion into reality, fusing ourselves with the surrounding world and understanding how we are one with it and with the rest of human beings.

Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.

Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People

‘Here’ is our unavoidable fate. We may fool ourselves trying to escape for a few hours, days, decades, but we will always come back. We are chained to this inbetweenness. Always in the middle, between the past and the future, between those who preceded us and those who will come afterwards. In between ego and unconscious. A constant tension of opposites. It is not casual that we chose a cross as a psychological symbol, way before it was associated with religion.

I often think of Sisyphus, having to push the rock up the hill every day. When he was almost at the top, at the ‘end of the rainbow’, the gods would push the rock down and we would have to start over the following day. Sisyphus was a piece of work and managed to trick the gods to escape death twice, therefore this punishment, which, ironically, kept him alive for eternity. The symbolism is much better explained in this beautiful blog.

Who hasn’t felt like Sisyphus, repeating the same tasks every day endlessly, and wishing we were somewhere else? When I think of him, pushing the rock up the hill, however, I imagine Sisyphus discovering small changes every day. A small chip in the stone that wasn’t there yesterday. A small green shoot in a corner, protected from the wind. A nest of ants, going about their business with no complaints. Little changes that, over the years become large changes. Even the rock, now so intimately linked to Sisyphus, changes. He changes, and he gets immersed into this continuum.

I wonder whether Sisyphus was punished so that we would learn to focus, to stay with himself, to appreciate the little things that surrounded him. To stay ‘here’ in order to comprehend his life. Without getting to the top of the hill, of course, because that would be ‘there’, a place that is forbidden to man.