“I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness, that we, as people, have bought into the false dream of convenience, and turned away from a deep engagement with our internal lives – those fountains of inconvenient feelings – and towards the frantic enticements of what our friends in the Greed Business call the Free Market.
We’re hurtling through time and space and information faster and faster, seeking the network connection. But at the same time we’re falling away from our families and our neighbors and ourselves. We ego-surf and update our status, but the cure won’t stick.
Within the chaos of our shame and disappointment and rage there is meaning, and within that meaning is the possibility of rescue.”
Steve Almond wrote this as a foreword to Cheryl Strayed’s wonderful bundle of advice columns Tiny Beautiful Things. I not only love every word of this book, I think these forewords sum up what is happening to modern people. Why you are reading this blog right now, why we all feel so stressed, why Trump got elected, why we cannot seem to find a solution for ourselves or our world, why I try to simplify my life and why this never seems to work out the way I want.
I feel the possibility of rescue in the very sacred heart of our shame, of our stress and disappointment and frustration. I feel it drumming itself to life. But my God, do we have to be brave to recognize it and not make excuses for our fountain of inconvenient feelings. I bet I’m not alone in being absolutely terrified of this fountain inside of me, that sacred heart that is drumming itself into my attention, that is screaming for care. I answer it : not now, not this way, later, when work is done the house is cleaned the kids are in bed. Later when I’ll be stronger, when I’ve earned more money, when I’ve worked through some other trauma. I order another latte, I buy some candles, I meditate some more.
But life is now, and it’s the reflection of my internal life, of my fountain of feelings. I know it, I always knew it. Now is the time to stop the chitchat, to stop hiding, stop buying, stop the convenience and the show.
And I’ll feel like drowning in the chaos, the shame and disappointment and rage within. It will feel so big and real that I’ll think it will kill me. That I’ll go crazy and be left all alone to die somewhere unloved. But then I’ll find out what I’ve found out so many times before. That I won’t die and find that in the very heart of it lies meaning, and only within this meaning lies the possibility to be radically honest and rescue myself from my loneliness and live a life where one does not have to maneuver around the dark painful spots. In the midsts of my personal hell lies my personal, radical freedom.
“Run toward the darkness, sweet peas, and shine.” – Steve Almond
Photograph by Annemarieke van Drimmelen for Luncheon Magazine