I’ve always resisted major life milestones like getting married, buying a home or having a baby.
Because I like to think that the life we’re sold as the ideal, isn’t ideal for everyone.
Not everyone will be happy with a child, a partner and a white picket fence. I’ve always wanted to follow my own path, whatever that might be, and despite it not being the one sanctioned by the broader community.
But somehow the milestones have always found a way of finding me. Somehow they’re jettisoned in my path, and in most cases they’re very insistent in their behavior.
Recently I had a baby.
I spent my entire life telling people I didn’t want a baby, that I’m not the maternal type, and then just like that, with not even a puff of smoke to herald it’s milestone arrival—I was pregnant.
I thought having a baby was ordinary. Like being married. Like owning a home.
I wanted a life less ordinary.
There’s nothing extraordinary about a birth. 225 world births are recorded every minute. That’s a lot. A lot tends to make something common.
What I certainly wasn’t expecting was to discover that this was by far the most extraordinary thing that had ever happened to me.
It was not until the very moment that she was born, when we ceased to be one body and became two that I realized how extraordinary this 225 a minute occurrence was.
There, quite suddenly, was another human being—another soul. I unexpectedly experienced a magic which I didn’t believe existed.
When I looked into my baby’s eyes, I saw it. And by it, I mean the connection between us and the entire universe. I could see the macro and the micro at the same time.
Even today, 15 weeks after her birth, I look into her eyes and I see it all.
In all my soul searching as a yoga and meditation instructor, writer, and simply as a human being, I have never been this close to the transcendental.
And I started to wonder, is it because she is closer to the source? After all she’s just arrived, and prior to this she was part of the universe, the unknown, the liminal. I don’t pretend to know what that unknown is, or where she has arrived from, but I can sense it nearby.
After her birth, I was re-reading Awakening the Buddha Within, by Lama Surya Das. In this book Lama Surya Das discusses reincarnation, he writes of a reincarnated Lama,
“It was in Darjeeling that I come to know well my first tulku or young reincarnated lama: He was a ten-year-old grand lama, Drukchen Rinpoche, the head of a large sect…one day the young tulku turned to me and said, ‘You know, as I get older, I’m beginning to lose my memory of my past lives. It’s as if my awakened mind is becoming obscured by the events of this lifetime.’’
This phrase perfectly summarized my thinking around this baby. Within her I could see magic, the universe, our interconnectedness. I started to think that perhaps as we grow older this understanding is “obscured by the events of this lifetime.”
In the Bardo Thodol (The Tibetan book of the dead), a guide is provided for the experiences that consciousness has after death as the soul prepares to be re-birthed. The Bardo, which can be translated as intermediate state, in-between or liminal state, describes the interval between death and the next rebirth.
What do we recall from the magic that is in-between? Most of us would say nothing.
Does it exist? I can sense that she knows it.
Unlike many other animals we can’t communicate at birth. We can’t verbalize our state of mind. Instead we have to provide our parents with cues, crying obviously being the primary indicator.
Perhaps there’s a reason for that. Perhaps we can’t vocalize our thoughts at that stage because otherwise we would reveal the secrets of this universe and beyond.
Of course as a layperson I can’t write anything for certain.
But what I can write with utter conviction is, when I look into my baby’s eyes I can see magic. I can see that at this very moment in time, she is interconnected with all things and all people.
There is an other-worldliness to her, which will likely be stripped away with the reality of this one.
But nonetheless, there it is, plain and simple at this very moment: she is closer to the source.
There is nothing ordinary about the birth of a new soul, or perhaps an old one, in fact it is most perfectly extraordinary.
Author: Lisa Portolan
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: U.S. Fotograhie/ Flickr