tuesday 17 october 02006 10:58am
pain, fear, and the birds of freedom

today the pain is heavy like a cloud. the sad part is that there is no source for the pain in this moment. the pain is caused by fear, and the fear is caused by past pain. clearly the past pain has not been fully integrated yet.

the mind wants to integrate. the mind presents the fear and the pain again and again. it tells the old stories in the familiar words. it tells the old stories in new words. there is fantasy: imagined conversations in which all that would ever wish to be said is said. fantasies in which the pain returns anew, and the mind schemes ways to cope if this should be so. fantasies of every possible future and past. the mind tries it all on. in all of this, there are two simple messages: i have been hurt. i am afraid of being hurt again.

during the time where the story seemed new and the pain was my daily breath, i was given these words by a friend:

My experience is that everything is bliss. But the desire for bliss creates pain. Thus bliss becomes the seed of pain. The entire universe is born of desire. Give up the desire for pleasure and you will not even know what is pain. – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

so i breathe. i breathe the pain. i breathe the fear. i take it back into me. i try not to call this bad, i try to accept it as it is. this too shall pass. this too shall pass. i breathe this, which is, and i remind myself: today i am not dead.

i remember Joy Harjo, the poem i read many times many years ago, and have sung to myself ever since. this is part of I Give You Back from the book She Had Some Horses.

I release you, fear, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.

I release you, fear, so you can no longer
keep me naked and frozen in the winter,
or smothered under blankets in the summer.

I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you

I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved
to be loved, to be loved, fear.

Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me, but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
You held my mother down and raped her,
but I gave you the heated thing.

I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart

But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.

and i breathe. the stories come. and i let them go. again and again, i just let them go. i watch her turn into a bird

and fly away.

again. again. again.

the air around me today is filled
with the birds of freedom.

and i breathe.