If we aren’t depressed, we either are not paying attention or, we are in denial. We have to be depressed to have a chance. Insomniantic (I made that word up) depression is caused by our inability to remain asleep in our lives, which is different from biological depression and situational depression brought on by loss and life events. If we are suffering from insomniantic depression, we are either not quite awake but know, on some level, that we need to be, or we are waking up and don’t want to. We have to face our depression and let it be, because it is. We can’t talk ourselves out of being depressed. We can only wake up and bear the pain. That’s the price of being alive. And, that’s depressing.
One way of squaring up to the depression that comes with waking up, is to tell ourselves, “Of course, you don’t want to wake up. Why would you? Who would? It’s so much more blissful and serene to be there, safely secure in Mother’s arms (Not our biological mother, who never was the mother we wanted her to be, but the Ideal Mother of the world of happy fantasy, who takes care of us the way we want to be taken care of, or would, if we could only find her), dreaming of roses, rainbows and white picket fences. Who would leave Mother’s lap to grow up and make her, make his, own way in the world? Hush, little baby, go back to sleep. If you can.”
Another way—and my personal favorite—of dealing with the depression that comes with waking up is by bellowing loudly from time to time (a crowded elevator is a great place), “Mamma! I want my Mamma!” (Not our biological mother, who never was the mother we wanted her to be, but the Ideal Mother of the world of happy fan-tasy, who takes care of us the way we want to be taken care of, or would if we could only find her). I don’t hate anything quite like I hate the idea of having to take care of myself, and deal with my own problems, and do what needs to be done in every moment of every day for the rest of my life. “Mamma! I want my Mamma!”
There are no new problems and no new solutions. All the problems and solutions are forever old. We don’t have enough of the right kind of help, and something is always preventing us from having our way. In a perfect world, everyone would mother me. Of course, you see the problem. All of my potential mothers want to be mothered themselves. And, this is not a new problem. Old as the ages. The solutions are, too: We can have a tantrum and hope to be mothered the way we want to be mothered, or we can sulk and pout the world into mothering us properly, or we can cry and wail until the right mother comes along, or we can sink into motherless depression in pro-test and rebellion and hope that our suffering will be duly noted and tended to. The final solution, of course, is that we can grow up, but who in his or her “right mind” would opt for that one? That’s the one we put off until we have no choice.
All of our real problems are completely irrational and absolutely real. Hopelessness, despair, anguish, depression—anyone can give us perfectly valid reasons not to be any of these things. “You don’t have it nearly as bad as some people. Stop complaining until you are as bad off as they are!” We can agree with the logic and admit that we wouldn’t trade with them, but our problem with life doesn’t disappear just because it’s been invalidated. “Reason can’t uproot what reason didn’t plant,” goes the old saying. We cannot think our way out of the deep ruts and the dark woods. The quickest exit is to bellow loudly: “Mamma! I want my Mamma!” (Not our biological mother, who never was the mother we wanted her to be, but the Ideal Mother of the world of happy fantasy, who takes care of us the way we want to be taken care of, or would if we could only find her). And keep it up until she comes along, or we decide to do our own mothering.
We want what we want so much that we believe we can have it. We tell ourselves, “If you wish for it, it will come” (The Law of Attraction, you know). We believe in Mother. Not our biological mother, who never was the mother we wanted her to be, but the Ideal Mother of the world of happy fantasy, who takes care of us the way we want to be taken care of, or would if we could only find her. We go to our graves, in one form or another, believing in, and waiting on, and looking for, Mother. All we ever wanted was to be mothered the way we wanted to be mothered. The spiritual journey consists of finding our way through this world without the Mother we wish we had. How’s that for the worst news in the world?
There is nothing like knowing we will not be mothered the way we want to be mothered to wake us up to the truth of how it is with us. No one is going to mother us the way we want to be mothered. No one CAN mother us the way we want to be mothered. Every real would-be mother falls far short of our imagined ideal, who reads our mind and brings us coffee the way we like our coffee, no, orange juice, no, oatmeal, no, a red Ferrari with a black Lab in the passenger seat, no, a Golden Retriever, no, a Honey or a Hunk… Ain’t no Mom like the Dear Old Magical Mom we wish we had. But, we resist the intrusion of that truth into our lives, and wait for Mom to come. Mom isn’t coming. The work of growing up is ours to do on our own.
Our only tool in that work is consciousness, making conscious that which is unconscious, knowing the truth about us and the world in which we live, and the worlds beyond the world in which we live. Awareness, awareness, awareness. Eyes that see, ears that hear, hearts that understand. Seeing into the heart of things and knowing how things are, and how things also are, and what needs to be done about it, and what can be done about it, and what is ours to do, and doing it. This is the path of spiritual development, whose other name is, you guessed it, Growing Up.
All the talk about growth, spiritual growth, personal growth, psychological growth, is just about growing up. There is no growth apart from growing up. We need to grow up. Tie our own shoes. Solve our own problems. Make our own choices. Find our own path. Live our own lives. And stop looking for people to take care of us. And stop living as though someone is in charge of us, overseeing us, approving or disapproving everything we do.
Consciousness recognizes the tension of opposing positions, points of view, places itself squarely within the dialectic and chooses what to do knowing the contrary impact that its choice has. Things are not good OR bad, better OR worse. They are good AND bad, better AND worse. We make our choices and live with our outcomes. For better AND worse. Which makes it very difficult to know what to do.
It is no light thing to take up the work of soul, of listening to soul, of aligning ourselves with soul. This is no lark. It is no Sunday morning exercise in which we get our inspiration for the week, so that we might feel good about the lives we are living, the goals we are serving, and step into them and do what we must to make them work like we want them to. Soul doesn’t care about what we care about. That’s the first hurdle we have to climb—the first shock to the system.
All this time we thought soul was on our side, our spiritual Mother, ready to help us be happy if we just thought the right things about God and led a moral life. The soul doesn’t care about our happiness. The soul cares about our aligning our lives with its interests and living to incarnate its values/intentions in the world, and do what it wants done. WE are the soul’s Mother!!! How’s that for the really worst news in the world? We mother ourselves, all right, but not in the way we want to be mothered—in the way our soul wants to be mothered!
We cannot draw up a profile for a soulful life. There are no black foot prints to follow. No rules to memo-rize. We live it in the moment of our living, always alert to what needs to happen now (asking soul, “What can we do for you now, honey?”), and not knowing what the next step with be or where it will take us. We hate the insecurity of not knowing what is going to happen, of not having a map, of not knowing where we are going. We like to be comfortable with predictability, and certainty, and stability—and soul is like the wind that blows where it will.
The future unfurls one step, one choice, at a time. And, if we go to sleep, and allow the last step to deter-mine the next step, and fall into a pattern, a routine, of always doing what is expected of us (or what is not expected of us), or what best serves the goals we set when we were in college, or, were set for us by our parents, or the culture, before we were born, we lock the future into some presumptive vision produced in some forgotten past to avoid the agony of deciding what to do now and smooth our path to the grave, and that path is itself a grave, which we walk with lifeless eyes, until someone mercifully buries us, and we can continue to rest in peace forever.
It’s hard enough for me to decipher the next step, to pick it out from among all the possible steps that I might take next. I may be right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, because then the task becomes that of deciding what the next step is, which, itself, may be right or wrong, and calls forth the situation of deciding what the next step is then. Intent on the situation “as it arises,” and what is being called forth there, what is needed there, and taking the next step in the unfolding of what is important and what must be done to serve it, I lose complete sight of the compilation of the steps, where they are leading, what their purpose might be. I don’t know. I don’t have time to bother with it. I have to decide what step to take here, now.
The saving grace is we don’t have to be right. We only have to let being wrong wake us up. That’s beautiful. To say we are wrong when we are wrong is as right as we need to be. Our lives will correct us all the way to the heart of truth—if we can be corrected. We don’t have to figure it out. All we have to do is listen. And take the next step. That’s the plan for the rest of our lives. Don’t have to know what you are doing. Listen and take the next step. Trust the core and take the next step. Nothing to it. And, everything rides on it. The only reason we don’t do it is that we are afraid. Who are we going to trust? Ourselves? Trusting ourselves is what got us to this point in our lives. If we continue to trust ourselves, we can only expect more of the same. But, ultimately we have no choice. We only have to wait until it is bad enough in order to have what it takes, which is nothing to lose, to trust ourselves to listen to that which is asking us to die to all that we thought was good in order to embrace the good and live.