It begins with a sharp pain in the left breast, before it spreads throughout the chest and then to the back, throat, legs, arms. Until you are breathless, although you can hear and feel your heart beat at an amazing rate, as if it will burst from its rib cage. And you are surprised that you are still standing, still feeling, still alive. Why doesn’t it make the deafening noise, you wonder, that everyone around can hear? But it is only in your ear – this rhythmic drumming before all that you want is to simply dissolve. Into oblivion, into darkness, into nothingness. But you remain, standing or sitting and the earth does not open to swallow you as you had hoped. In that moment of terrible instability, balancing between earth and sky are feelings of huge magnitude. You cannot find words, because each syllable is insufficient and inadequate. You know that no language can express your pain. You realise that dissolving into mother earth is the only option, but it does not happen. Your only company is the ache that begins to take physical form, and the rest of you that you thought was real ceases to exist. You wonder how anything can go on, how the next moment will continue – and yet, it does. Breath by breath, you begin to hold the pain, when there is nothing else to hold. And the pain holds you in return, cradling you, embracing you so you can collapse in it.
People around you feel, sympathise and embrace you, and you acknowledge, but from a distance. You hear their voices, as if they travel from far away. You feel their touch on your numb arms as they express their sympathy, but it does not bring comfort. But when the night sky stretches above you and all you have is your pain, it is then that the reality starts to sink in. The darkness outside reflects like a silent dark mirror what you have inside. The night shows it for what it really is, this terrible agony that throbs like a fresh wound. And that you are afraid of it, more than anything else, you fear this wound in the place where your heart once resided. Afraid also to lie alone when the spasms gain so much more power within and come to haunt you in your sleepless dreams. There is no cure, no remedy. The only healing power you can count on is time. But what do you do before the time comes? What do you do in the days, weeks before the healing can begin? Endure and believe.
The universe has a plan for you and it is only by faith and belief that you can survive. Then when your insides have burned and there is nothing left, you hear a sound. Faint at first, it sounds like music. And it comes from within your heart. You begin to wonder if on the other side of pain, this music arises from stillness. A pure deep stillness that you feel connected to, because somewhere deep within you know that it belongs to you, just as you belong to it. That exquisite place that is so profoundly honest, so pure, like the love you once felt and has actually never left you. Arising from that stillness the music sounds pure too, little by little you begin to hear what the universe whispers back. It is the singing of a very ancient kind, the one to which you respond because it resonates within you. It is the same song, the same story that you once sang to yourself and to each other. It is the song of the soul that was born before time. The universe created a hum, a tune and breathed life into it and that is what you hear. And suddenly, below all the dust and grime and emotions and feelings, there appears something else, something profound, ancient and full of wisdom. And you know that the time to let go has come. Everything you once knew, everything that was once you and defined who you were, everything familiar, everything visible and invisible has to go. That this is a part of the cycle of life-death-life. And you have reached the death bit. You know it will be difficult but not impossible. For after death there will be life again.
As you slowly breath into the pain and let go, unravelling the years, decades, maybe even centuries of you, a new you emerges. This new you is born from stillness, carried by the music that the universe whispered into your ears. Once the decision to leap arises, nets begin to form all below you. And then suddenly, everything falls in place, the whys and hows and what ifs disappear and all that remains is a pure you. Trusting and believing that the universe will always hold you.
“To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”- Pema Chödrön