“All these trips that we lay on ourselves–the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds–never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. This is who we really are: We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
– Pema Chodron
Most writers will probably not admit this, but a lot of the time, we are in a fog. By that I mean we have this picture in our heads of what we want our work to look like when it’s finally finished. Unfortunately, that picture is not always clear, and is often obscured by the passing of “a dark cloud.”
Every once in a while, that cloud dissipates, and the sun cuts through, and then we see it. There it is. Our finished product. And we say. “Yes, that’s where I was headed. I can see it. What a relief.”
But then, the picture will slip away, behind the dark cloud… and everything goes foggy again. We question whether we ever saw that finished product in the first place. Often, we will wander underneath this dark cloud, feeling like a train without a rail, fearing we’ll cause damage if we are not careful.
We can spend days, weeks, months, maybe even years behind this dark cloud, and, under that cruel shadow, it can get very lonely. You may feel abandoned. You may feel lost. You may even feel like the sun will never reappear again.
Then the brilliance will trickle through. The dark cloud will leave. You’ll see it again. Bright and perfect. The thing you’ve been aiming for all along. Yes. For you, this is undeniable proof that you were on the right track–and you wonder how you ever felt lost.
But then the dark cloud swoops in again, and there you find yourself again, underneath this dark cloud. Like a train without a rail.
I am now convinced that the worst thing we do to ourselves when we are underneath this dark cloud is forget. We forget, and forget, and forget.
We forget the days when the sun shined brilliantly and revealed to us what we have known: that this is our story, that this is our path, and we were right all along.
We forget to our great disadvantage.
Because this dark cloud is really no more than our sense of forgetfulness: our constant detachment from ourselves, our lives, our work, and even the world around us. When we fall underneath this dark cloud, we might feel like something is being taken from us.
But maybe the next time we feel ourselves in the fog, we might ask ourselves what it is we are forgetting, instead of what is being taken from us.
What resilience were you born with–and that every human being carries–that we have forgotten to recognize?
Just because you don’t have the answer to that question right now doesn’t mean that one day you won’t.
As Mark Nepo would say, although we may feel like the sun is blocked, we must work to remember that we have been on the other side of this dark cloud before, and we will be again.
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