Sometimes I wish I was born as a wealthy princess, married to a handsome prince, and my only responsibility was to read books and go for walks. Sometimes I think if only things were a certain way then life would be so grand. But since that’s not my life, I’ve wanted to do as much good as I can, burn as many individual units of karma as possible, and get the heck out of dodge. Because the whole point of human life is to get to Heaven as quickly as possible! Oh wait, that’s not right.
At a particularly low time in my life, a good friend of mine said, “You can’t have the sweet without the sour.” I brushed off his statement because it seemed like a cliché thing to say. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, the world’s about balance. Blah, blah, blah.” What I didn’t realize at the time is you can’t have the sweet without the sour. I didn’t understand it’s the contrast that allows me to experience the sweet. If I had sugar all the time I wouldn’t even know it was sweet because I would become so acclimated to the taste it would become bland. I didn’t realize in order for me to experience joy, I also have to know sorrow. That there can be no “good” without “bad” because oftentimes states of being are defined by what they’re not. How can I know what bliss is if I haven’t experienced misery?
I think about that joke where two fish are swimming in the ocean. The first fish turns to the other and says, “The water’s really warm today.” The other fish says, “What’s water?” If I lived in a constant state of bliss I wouldn’t know what bliss is, much like those fish. So that is why I became physical. To experience all of it. The peaks, the valleys. The joys, the sorrows. Everything in between. Because only I, in my physical body, get to experience that. Angels, divine beings, they don’t get to experience any of it. They don’t know the thrill of ice skating or holding hands with their beloved. But I do. So this is it. The greatest ride of all. Being human. There is no heaven the way I’ve interpreted it. There is no time when I get to feel any better than I do right now. There is no time when I get to experience constant bliss, because when bliss is constant it ceases to be bliss.
I became physical so I could know all this. So I could feel all of my emotions, not just the good ones. A part of me wants to feel high all the time, doesn’t want to ever feel sad or hurt ever again. I understand now I can’t know the joy of a reunion without first experiencing a separation. I can’t understand the joys of eating unless I’ve been hungry. I entered the world to watch birds swooping in and out of traffic, to gaze at bright yellow taxis and tall redwood trees. I became physical to know the joy of a little girl racing toward me with open arms saying, “Auntie!” That’s it. I came for the experience, not the outcome.
I don’t know that I’m making any sense, but much like Licia Berry wrote in her blog, I’m recognizing my spiritual life is experiential in nature. That enlightenment and bliss are not things that happen at the end of my life after I’ve stood on my head and prayed a million times, but rather states of being accessible for me in the here and now. Because you can’t have the sweet without the sour.
I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to experience everything. A world where we know the thrill of love and the pain of separation. A world where we understand the sacredness, and the treasure, of being human because no other creature gets to experience the rollercoaster we do. A world where we have fun, enjoy life, and understand what it means to be physical.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.