Our distaste for failure means that the undefined, mysterious effort required to become someone new is precisely what scares our ego. It does not want to be fired, get divorced, or die.
Our ego doesn’t like the unknown, it dislikes adventure. It’s built from our history and it wants predictability, success and popularity because that feels a bit like security from death. Our ego finds the death of an identity –or even the death of a physical being– to be the worst thing that can happen, which is why it will work so hard to avoid it.
If death feels like it is the worst thing that can happen, let us consider the examples of where most people can sense the sad ‘wrongness’ that accompanies someone who has refused to accept death in a vain attempt at immortality. Without even trying, most people intuitively can feel the value of this other mysterious form of life when it is sadly sacrificed for mere existence.
Examples where we sense this loss are experiences like; people going so far with face lifts and other physical and fashion interventions that they permanently destroy any chance of achieving the graceful beauty they were trying to extend.
When nature would have unfolded into new forms of beauty over time, a reluctance to allow time to flow leaves some living as hollow zombies from another time.
Another example is the artist, like a dancer or musician, who no longer plays to play, but plays to feel accepted or to belong. Rather than proclamations of discovery and life, the performances that exist merely for their own sake often feel desperate rather than celebratory. As a result, the impact is often sadness by those witnessing it because, in a way it, we can sense it defies the real value in life.
The starkest examples we see of this life value being sacrificed is when people put a chronically ill pet or loved one through a painful struggle only because someone will not let the mysteries of the future unfold. In these cases, extending life can go so far as to feel cruel.
Our natural distaste for these types of experiences reflect this subtle, undefined, amorphous, ephemeral value in life that our soul is invested in. It does not exist to do things, our soul lives to have experiences.
Every great book needs a beginning and middle and end. Paradoxically, that end is what guarantees a future transition for us to endure. We simply cannot have the value of the book if we do not allow the book to end.
Love is likewise. If it doesn’t end in other ways, it ends in death. As with the story in a great book, our desire for it to continue is one half of our love of it, while our inability to have it do so is the other half.
That line –that transition between yin and yang is where our life is balanced. It is the sense of profound acceptance that exists there that is the enlightened sense. This is not the happiness, nor permanence, nor perfection our ego seeks. This is not a permanent state or achievement, the soulful life is better seen as a flowing, infinite principle, motion, and experience.
If that feels too lofty for someone like us, just remember that we feel it every time a sunset is so beautiful that time seems to stop and we cease to exist as our ego selves, and instead we feel as though we have become a part of the sunset. The awesome feeling that exists there forms the value of life that emerges through its motion, and each of us knows that at our core.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.