May 16, 2017

This is what we Hold onto in Times of Pain.

This life is comprised of utter chaos.

Everything is in a constant state of flux, an incessant condition of change and alteration. Nothing is static. Nothing is really even that stable, and sometimes it is valuable to find something worth holding onto, to maintain a sense of peace and equanimity.

We are thrown into this world naked and screaming, and this raw innocence is soon corrupted by the stark absurdity of modern life. Our nature is stolen from us, and the beautiful naiveté of our childhood is taken away by the many distorting and compressing mechanisms of our culture.

It’s a mad world, and often, we respond with further madness.

This doesn’t have to reign true. We don’t have to be products of our environment. We can indeed remain in alignment with our truest nature—in spite of the chaos that surrounds us—but we must find something to hold onto, something that reminds us of our innate innocence and sincerity.

Something that grounds us. Something that brings us back home no matter where we are or what we are doing. Something that re-orients us toward joy, fulfillment, and peace—the qualities of being that we most deeply crave.

We all need something to hold onto, and I am not talking about some kind of possession.

I’m speaking of a place within ourselves that we can always track back to, that makes us remember what we cherish most deeply. Perhaps it is a memory, an adage, a mantra of some kind that reunites us with our essence, our most heartfelt passions and desires.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or afraid, I go back to a place that has dwelled in the deepest expanses of my mind since I was a child.

It is a kind of memory I guess, but one that elicits a feeling that always seems to realign me with my core, that always helps me find my center. When I bring myself back to this place, a shift occurs in me. It is an early childhood remembrance of being at some kind of festival with my family. The sun was shining. People were smiling. There was great love. All was well.

I can faintly catch the scent of some exquisitely simmering foods moving through the air. If happiness had a smell, it would surely be this. There was music playing in the background, and my parents held my hands. There was a deep warmth to this, and a sense that nothing could do me harm.

I’m holding back tears as I write this. It is the most beautiful thing I could possibly imagine, and when I abide in this place inside of me, I feel entirely whole.

I’m not even sure if this ever happened, and I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is that with this thought comes a feeling, and with this feeling comes a deep sense of peace and wonder. This inspires me. When I am in this space, I want to love, care for, and give myself to others. I know that everything is going to be okay in some way, even if it isn’t.

I get a similar feeling when I look up at the stars. In gazing up at the sheer vastness of the cosmos, I get this sense that there is an underlying force that moves through everything in the universe that is oh-so-eager to manifest and express itself. It feels like there is something at work here, and whatever it is, it’s quite magical. Whatever it is that I am contending with in my life, for that moment, gets washed away, because it just seems so small in comparison to the inherent artistry of everything in creation.

I’ve been to some dark places in my life, perhaps even places most people have the profound luxury of never having to go. Pain has become the very benchmark of my existence for the past few years.

Through it all, I’ve maintained some degree of dignity and selfhood—and for this I am grateful. In part, I attribute this to my capacity to go inside myself, to abide in the deeper dimensions of my consciousness, to delve into the very depths of my soul when what was happening outwardly was unimaginably horrible.

I held onto something, or rather I realized I had something worth holding onto.

I don’t know how this will translate to other people’s experience. All I can say is that this has worked for me, and worked amidst the most painful and chaotic times in my life.

Whatever it is that we wish to hold onto that gives us hope, whether it be the memory of a loved one or some latent thought or dormant insight enveloped in the very fabric of our psyche, it is important that we know what that thing is and how to tap into it when necessary.

We all need to hold onto something, and discovering what that something is acts as a key to accessing our most fundamental and heartfelt longings.


Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Ben Husmann/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman

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