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     Why do we make life so difficult?  I talk a lot with people whose schedules are frantic.  Are we trying to attain something transcendent through our achievements?  Some would call this transcendence their legacy, while others name it salvation or enlightenment.  However, each spiritual tradition says the same thing about this:  we cannot directly cause our  own transformation.  We can only practice a way of life that invites the transformation that is already poised to take place.  It comes in little moments, and it always feels like a gift, like grace. 
     So, although no one would argue that life has its difficult, even agonizing, moments, we can relax and stop making it harder than it has to be.  Life isn’t easy all the time, but it is simple when we accept the inevitable ups and downs.   Then we can enjoy pleasures without attaching ourselves to them and without making them our reason to exist.  Maybe that’s the impetus behind the “happiness backlash” being discussed now.  We’ve been so lulled into thinking we’re entitled to be happy all the time that we’re often advised to medicate even routine blahs.  But let’s remember that our society takes for granted what a lot of the world calls luxury, falsely thinking it buys happiness.   We can be working so hard to achieve the luxuries we call “basics” that we’re less happy than we would have been without them.  In their pursuit, we forget to connect with each other and with Source and life gets very difficult.  The following poem of mine was published this year in the journal “Out of Line”, and it tries to address some of these issues.


We say Christmas
Is for children, and
Read “Twas the night before…”
Like a promise to them
That lights will ever twinkle,
And fires always burn
Just where we set them.
Carefully forgetting
That this is hardly ever so, and
That solstice only shines
In the space the darkness swallows.

When lifting goblets,
The ancients raised spirits, knowing
Their own to be inextricably linked
To those shadowed others.
Pain and pleading folded into
A ritual moment.
When it was common
(As of course we are not)
To sleep with one eye open
Only to rise slipping on stones
Slick with human waste,
Holidays were respite care,
Rare interludes when civilization
Seemed almost possible.

Now culture boils at civility breached,
Collective sensibility pulling back
Like first shiver of sea as a crack
In its foundation unleashes the right
To wash over everything in its path,
Even if it is earth.
Because, what passes for truth be told,
There is no world out there
Broader than our comfort zone,
No flow of history
Longer than selective memory.
Vulnerability disavowed and disallowed.

Interesting how we assume ease of passage,
Yet struggle with ourselves once there,
Creating lives desperately disconnected
And yet stunningly complex.
As if the soul knows its solidarity
With suffering
And must find a reason to cry
In order to celebrate. 

Copyright 2008, Marie Roberts  

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