Several years ago, during a very trying time in my life, I was watching a documentary on the Buddha. Ostensibly, I was doing research on a novel I was planning to write. But something happened to me that day. I heard the following quote:
“There is no knowledge won without sacrifice, and this is one of the hard truths of human existence: in order to gain anything, you must first lose everything.”
It stuck with me.
I was having an "all is lost" moment, and I felt such peace when I realized:
Okay, I have to do this, I have to hit bottom in order to find a way to rise any further.
This idea compelled me to find a way to drag myself back to the page, and I ended up reading THE ARTIST’S WAY, which I’ve discussed here before. Slowly but surely, I pushed myself back into a seated, then standing, position and started writing again.
I found my lost voice.
It was soon after this that I found yoga, in the form of a lovely writer friend who offered to teach me privately in her home.
To say the experience was revelatory is an understatement.
My body did things I wasn’t aware it could do. My guru was kind and gentle and calm and funny, and I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. I felt like I’d connected with myself, with the universe, with the bloody earth, in a way I never had before. I could actually feel my feet touching the floor for the first time. The third session, as I lay weeping on her floor in savasana (a rather common thing, I’ve learned), I felt lighter than I had in years.
That particular session, my guru told me something wildly profound — the universe will give you what you’re seeking. Not only that, the universe wants to give you what you’re seeking.
Had I gained this wisdom when my world was falling apart, there was no way I would have been able to understand or appreciate it. On the other side of the empty crevasse, it was more than inspiration. It was the path back.
I watched a stunningly beautiful short video this week about a dog named Denali, and the impact he had on his master-human person-best friend’s life. The video is from Denali’s point of view. It is about loss, the kind of soul-wrenching loss reserved for losing best friends, whether human or animal. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
We are all marked by loss. We are made by loss.
It is how we handle loss that allows us a path forward when we get mired. It is how we bear loss that proves to us we’re capable of anything.
We will not be broken. We will not be torn asunder. We will breathe through this pain, hug those we love, and fight our way back to the page and share our feelings with another. In that, we will conquer loss.
If you can find your peace, wherever it might be — meditation, yoga, a book, a song, sex, pizza—if you find your peace, you will find your voice. Find your voice, you will find your heart. Find your heart, you will be able to share it. Share it, and you’ve done your job on this earth — to love, and be loved. To care and be cared for. To breathe. To create.
My guru lost her best friend today. I know she is in pain, is beyond devastated. I dedicate this piece to her, and to her Sunnie, in the hope that this loss gives her another path to her incredible voice.
As she once told me, when I was holding on by a thread, “Don’t try to steer the river.”
Wise words for us all.