When I turned 60 in 2006, life turned for me and beckoned me onto a divergent path, divergent from my life of introversion, aloneness, isolation, and obsession. I heard about “the journey” throughout my life, and sometimes sought it, a curious little boy peering and playing and trying to understand religion, spirituality, purpose, but never quite growing up and often retreating from awakening and reality. I retreated into comfort/excitement. I retreated through work, women, addiction, money, and possessions. The dross of my life accrued and weighed upon me until sanity and soul withered.
In that year, my wife, Pam, confronted me about our fading marriage. She had a dream that became a metaphor for my turning from my shriveling spirit. She saw a huge fire pit, around which many knights in armor were arrayed. One by one, they jumped into the pit to anneal their armor. I stood there naked, viewing the sight, then cast my self into the transforming fire. I adopted that as a metaphor for the last quarter of my life… jumping into the fire of awakening, recovery, and growth.
We fear the fire, the burning away of the old, the useless, the annealing of the armor that we put on early and carried around us for years and years. We fear the pain of self-recognition, facing our internal demons and shadows, doing “the work” as many call it. We fear tearing down the fortress walls of our heart, of taking off our armor and exposing our soft underbelly. We fear the twisting path, the cliff from which we must jump into what we know not. We fear the chasm filled with flames through which we know we must travel. We fear getting real… with our selves and then with the other. I feared.
But that did not deter me from my running, stumbling, plodding, firm walking, to and fro, leaping, climbing, without sufficient breath, and often stuck in the deep sludge of my psyche, toward becoming an awakened man. And all it is about is making progress, the turning, the journey of Self to a more evolved and better person, a better life, joyful and singing.
Have you started the turning?
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They are born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. - Anthony De Mello, Awareness, Page 5