It is interesting to reflect on life and its many phases. It appears as if a person in moving through these phases experience a sense of newness, apprehension, familiarity and comfort and eventually through to a place of both impasse and no return. It seems that it is only when one reaches this stage that there arises a compelling feeling to stop, to reflect, to be still and listen. The particular form of listening required is not particularly attuned to what is happening outside but to what is happening inside. Only after the impasse is recognized and deep reflection entered into does life open up, allowing a slow but steady passage to a new phase or perhaps another journey that life has prepared for us. As a person gets older each new passage is more arduous and it is little wonder that so many people regress, hold back and even stall the journey that is life.
So many people at some point cling to and hold onto what they have, rather than push on to explore what is still possible. That is true for individuals and for societies alike for societies are but collectives of individuals who gravitate to the same thinking, often without realizing this fact. Diversity becomes reviled and sameness becomes revered.
As one traverses the path of life each phase brings strange journeys. Newness has to be accepted, acclimatization becomes the challenge and in this change process many trials come our way. Oftentimes, these trials become so overwhelming that we fall into despair, the darkness so pervasive, that we fear ever finding our way “into the light”. Some come to appreciate the dimness of their space and accept what is, others forget, for a time there is a light. But life is so persistent that it gradually and slowly accumulates the trials until it becomes untenable to stay in a particular space. This is usually because the space where one finds oneself is not where that individual is supposed to be.
Life, I believe, comprises an easy tension providing flux, movement and direction. Sometimes we find this tension to be much less that easy, even stressful and that is when one needs to explore ones space, why the tension and how it can be lessened. We can rail against it or we can shift with it. Everyone resists to some degree, many get used to the stress the tension provides, some complain of the pain that is caused while others move with the flow of the tension. Comfort can be imagined in any of the above. Comfort with place, people, and common thought or even in a sphere of pain is much appealing. Such unnatural comfort really leads to stagnation, unease, apathy and eventually despair. Genuine comfort lies within.
To understand this, notice the disparate places in the world and how their numbers continue to grow, or consider those areas with plenty moving towards disparity. In each case comfort of acceptance builds discontent and expands until an eruption occurs that shakes people to the very core of their existence. Two current examples are Argentina and Zimbabwe.
Argentina, once a land of plenty, is in the midst of turbulent change. Societal comfort and complacency allowed corruption to invade and surround its whole institutional base. Over the years recognition grew of the reality of the issues and a grassroots movement appeared and set in motion a form of revolution. The despair which people felt with their circumstance provoked a major shift in thinking and tolerance.
Zimbabwe demonstrates that artificial comfort and complacency allowed a very brutal regime to move into power. The repression has led to revolt by local and grassroots people and retaliation by those in power. Yet, the most brutal of punishment, even death inflicted on people “to keep them in line” by the governing authority appears not to deter people’s desire for change. This demonstration of the strength within and people’s desire to live and experience genuine comfort is telling. The necessity to move “into the light” is very mobilizing.
It appears that it is only at the arrival to the depths of despair that people step back, reflect and contemplate their circumstance and that which is influencing it. It then becomes apparent that it is the influences that have to be interpreted and understood. What need to be changed are these influences along with the spiritual dimensions within that these influences affect.
It is the time of reflection that allows the light to seep into the very dark caverns that we have built within our minds. These glimmers of light allow true perspectives to unfold that provide the direction in order to find life’s true light. Opening to this light is one of life’s necessities, if one is ever to experience true and meaningful comfort. Why we have to await the ultimate darkness of despair is obviously one of the fundamental mysteries of life.