exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
The Wedding Song
Drawing Life, and Meaning for it
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Today, this very day, began as any other day -- until a friend phoned to announce that he could no longer face living in this world and would be taking his own life.
He said that he didn’t “fit in,” that there was “no place” for him. Business reversals, personal enemies, and unfair treatment in the workplace, had caused him severe depression; these, however, he could have survived, but the final despair became the loss of a girl, a childhood friend, he thought he knew, and trusted. And now he didn’t “want to be here anymore,” with his misery to be ended at a secluded spot in the woods.
His call, and the subject matter, caught me off guard. I didn't know what to say; no words of solace for him. Numbly, I listened to his farewell. I considered saying this-or-that, some phrase of encouragement, but, it all seemed so trite and empty.
Later in the day, I happened to be listening to the music of “The Wedding Song.” Given the events of the morning, the song’s two lovers “drawing life” from each other suddenly took on new meaning. Death is the great leveler, the great destroyer of illusion, the great clarifier; and now, in a moment of abject reductionism, I saw some things in a new light.
what we stay alive for
On the Word Gems homepage, there’s discussion of a poet’s remark, “what we stay alive for”...
“We don't read and write poetry," he said, "because it's cute,” we read poetry, ponder wisdom literature, attempt to unravel existential mysteries, journey to the center of the soul -- because it keeps us alive.
In "The Wedding Song," we’ve considered the meaning of “Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again,” and we’ve made good progress. But let’s look at this again and now receive its simple and straightforward message. We’ve already noted that it’s a little strange to find the word “life” when we might expect “love.” We would have been pleased with “Woman draws her love from man.” But, is it so strange? Might not this "drawn love" become her reason for living? Some of us sense and believe that there a love, a purest form, to affect us so deeply, speaking to us so profoundly, such that its absence might drive us to ultimate desperation; in other words, threaten our very lives.
“The Wedding Song” asserts that two lovers “draw life” from each other, but, as we begin to discern the song’s plain and uncomplicated meaning, we might rephrase “draw life” as “draw meaning, purpose, and reason to live” from each other. It’s what they stay alive for.
the forward momentum of life
Consider again our young friends, the newlywed couple, John and Mary. They’re so busy and energetic, we break out in a cold sweat just to hear about their frenetic schedule. They’re working one or two jobs, going to night school, planning for their first baby, saving up to buy their first house.
And they’re so excited about what they’re building, and confident that “the good life” is just around the corner for them. This is a heady and jubilant time for them, but also a distracting and disorienting early phase of marriage. It’s what Dr. Ernest Becker called “the forward momentum of life,” a swirl of dizzying activity, and John and Mary, along with mental equanimity, are swept away by it all.
Editor’s note: Recently, I offered a ride to work to a friend, a “Mary,” pregnant, with her wedding day coming up soon. She said, “John and I are working so much now that we hardly see each other.” In my bad-boy ways, I smiled and remarked, “Well, that makes for the perfect marriage – this way you won’t fight.” She laughed, in a knowing tone that agreed with me.
They don’t understand just yet – they will later – that all of this “doing," with very little “being,” is a form of repression. They mute the inner malaise, or as Love Personified has it, the whispered “calling of their hearts,” that is, their truest hearts. They’re well into the discombobulation, convincing friends and family, and especially themselves, that with all this frantic busy-ness, surely, all must going well with goals in process of manifestation; and who could say a word against it? The answer is – they themselves. The rebuttal is being prepared even now, to be delivered during those sleepless “3 AM nights,” when it's harder to escape ourselves and repression doesn’t work as well.
But, for the moment, young Mary has stifled the doubts and lamentations of her wedding day. Ok, alright, maybe they did “settle” a bit, each for the other, and maybe it hasn’t turned out to be all “hearts and flowers and chocolate candies,” and maybe their relationship isn’t the full-bodied romance they’d hoped for – but, who can worry about such idealism when there’s so much to do? Clear-eyed concern, however, will come later, when the noise level of life falls to a haunted whisper, when the well-ordered middle-class existence becomes more prison than paradise, and then, they will begin to notice… that, there’s nothing to “stay alive for.”
We were made to live with, and to love, one particular person. One only. No substitutes allowed. It won’t work with just any “pretty fish in the sea.” We were created for this exclusivity. It’s written into our spiritual DNA. We won’t get away with “sinning against holy romance,” as Spirit Guide Margaret warns. The “calling of the heart” will not be silenced. It will yet hunt us down, and destroy us, if we presume to live otherwise. Existential crisis will eventually consume us with overwhelming regret, sorrow, a sense of futility and meaninglessness. And even in Summerland, there will be no true heaven, no truly joyful eternal life, without a coming to terms regarding that lost Beloved. The "calling heart" will yet be heard.
The Sacred Beloved is not just the “love of one’s life” but, in a very real sense, life itself to us. We can cheat the system for a while, or convince ourselves that we’ve done so, during a mind-dulling “forward momentum,” but the “Faustian Satan,” like a silent Greek chorus, sees all, knows all, bides his time, and will come calling one day, demanding to be paid -- in blood; the blood of one’s own life, if we’ve not discovered “what we stay alive for.”
Viktor Frankl, the great psychiatrist and camp-survivor, tells us that we cannot maintain a sane mind without finding significant purpose for our lives. And what is that purpose? Well, there are many secondary purposes which vary from person to person, but every human being, on a cosmic level, has the same purpose: that of, “opening the eyes,” becoming a true, sentient individual, gaining and growing in consciousness.
Conscious of what?
But it’s not quite that simple. Yes, ultimate purpose might be defined as growing in consciousness, and we'd be done with it, that is, if we were designed as “lone ranger” beings, a perpetual solo-act, making our way through the universe as stand-alone entities. But, we're not solo-acts, and 100,000 loves songs inform us of this reality. We were made male and female, a veritable image of Mother-Father God, and, as such, are required to engage life as darling-companion units.
Therefore, when we say that the grand purpose of life is to become conscious, we must also add, “Conscious of what?” Well, many things, but, at the top of that list will be a consciousness of our need to love -- everyone and all creation – but, most particularly, to enter intimate love-relationship with a certain other.
And if we defy this existential mandate, then – maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually – we will destroy ourselves in a morass of seething disquietude, an unbroken horizon of emptiness, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. Other than this we can have a nice eternal life. (See my article, "Will You Survive The Terror Of Eternal Life?")
becoming 'One Person' suggests incomplete halves
“The Wedding Song” hints at this utter incompleteness, a personal devastation. It does so by employing the “One Person” metaphor, the ontological goal of each sacred couple. Earlier we spent much time discussing the term "One Person" and all of that was valuable, but let us dig deeper now to a most basic substrata of meaning.
Look at this with new eyes: In the song, we are presented with Woman and Man, each drawing life from the other, that is, meaning and purpose, “what we stay alive for.” Woman and Man, Female and Male, are incomplete without each other. As the Spirit Guides have explained, it’s almost like being half of a soul, half of a person. This means that Woman and Man, seeking completion, will be magnetically attracted to each other with a force far superseding that of mere biological impulse. Cosmic destiny and spiritual evolvement are in view.
And this is why the “One Person” image is used. Each lover yearns to become “One Person” with the other because each harbors a sense that something is missing -- without the Sacred Beloved. “One Person” means to feel complete and whole. It signifies having found meaning and purpose for one's eternal existence. And this is why we say that those who defy themselves, that is, rebel against their own “cosmic blueprint” concerning what they were meant to become and to do, will destroy themselves in an endless nightmare world, an unforgiving and relentless insanity, of aloneness, rage, perceptions of worthlessness, incompleteness, and inner-destitution. What I’ve just described is the terrible and horrific state of mind of those who inhabit the lowest levels of the Dark Realms.
Editor’s note: We’ve spoken, in “Prometheus,” of a great paradox in play here. In one sense, the soul was created whole and perfect, in need of nothing, and yet, in another sense, we need, like the air we breathe, to love and be loved and require a sacred intimacy with one particular other. See the discussion in "Prometheus."
I don't have plans and schemes
And I don't have hopes and dreams
I don't have anything
Since I don't have you
I don't have fond desires
And I don't have happy hours
I don't have anything
Since I don't have you
I don't have happiness
And I guess I never will again
When you walked out on me, in came old misery
And he's been here since then
Now I don't have love to share
And I don't have one who cares
I don't have anything
Since I don't have you
You, you, you, you, you, you
Editor's note: The calamitous realization of “I don’t have you” eventually leads everyone into the darkest despair of “nothing to stay alive for,” Kierkegaard’s ultimate “dread” (see below).
This topic is a most serious one. In the “holodeck” article we discussed that lost love, so common, is probably the worst thing that could happen to us during our time on Earth. And, as we consider, just now, the words of “The Wedding Song,” we might feel even worse as our loss is brought closer to mind.
the death of the good little boy and girl
Soren Kierkegaard came to see that the rigidly religious, the militant church-goers in his community, were among the most dysfunctional and psychologically unbalanced of any in society.
In my own writings I sometimes refer to those thus detached from reality as “the good little boy and girl.” Nothing wrong with being good, of course, and we all want more of it, but -- the authentic kind. It all goes wrong when religiosity, a so-called “goodness” and “morality,” devolves to false-front, a mask for one’s terrors of living life, a lying to oneself, a studied disingenuity in which people hide from their sense of guilt, self-loathing, fear of death, and the judgments an angry god. We discussed this pathology in the three articles on “Spirituality,” what it means to be a good person.
Kierkegaard referred to this inward bedlam, this closed personality, as “philistinism,” a “shut-upness,” a “half-obscurity” regarding one’s spiritual condition. These “inauthentic” men and women, he said, do not own their own souls, lack a solid center, and “tranquilize” themselves “in the trivial.”
please, it’s very impolite of you to notice that I lack a self
Soren Kierkegaard: “But in spirit of the fact that man has become fantastic in this fashion [i.e., lives unrealistically by denying his own mortality and impending death, the terror of which is covered up by palliatives such as ritualistic, form-based but empty, religion], he may nevertheless … be perfectly well able to live on, to be a man, as it seems, to occupy himself with temporal things, get married, beget children, win honor and esteem – and perhaps no one notices that, in a deeper sense, he lacks a self.”
instructed by dread
In my opinion, one of the greatest, most profound, insights and directives concerning how to live the spiritual life comes from Kierkegaard.
He speaks of allowing ourselves to be instructed by “dread.” The more clear-eyed and perspicacious one becomes, the more one attunes oneself with Universal Goodness, the more one perceives one’s own fleeting creatureliness and mortality, the more one will feel out of phase and out of touch with both the evanescence and the ways of this world.
Dread will be one’s frequent companion. We note in the story of Jesus how he was called a “man of sorrows.” Yes, there are, at times, good things in this life, and there’s certainly much good news concerning our future life in Summerland, but our current imperfections and the waywardness of planet Earth give rise to a steady perception of dread.
Kierkegaard's “inauthentic man” does what he can to “tranquilize” himself – with a host of bromides and sedatives: consumerism, fear-and-guilt based religion, cheap-mechanical sex, drugs and drink, misguided marriage, mindless entertainment – all marshaled against the terrors of mortality.
facing life with eyes wide open
But the spiritual man, Kierkegaard says, faces life with eyes wide open – even though this increases his “dread.” Instead of hiding, he or she allows an instruction by dread. This is why Jesus on the cross did not drink the sour wine when offered; he wanted a clear head to see reality, no matter what.
the final maturity: the unlearning of repression
Dr. Ernest Becker: “The flood of anxiety is not the end for man. It is, rather, a ‘school’ that provides man with the ultimate education, the final maturity. It is a better teacher than [this world’s] reality, says Kierkegaard, because reality can be lied about, twisted, and tamed by the tricks of cultural perception and repression. But anxiety cannot be lied about. Once you face up to it, it reveals the truth of your situation; and only by seeing that truth can you open a new possibility for yourself… It is the unlearning of repression.”
And why should we care to be educated by dread, to face life with eyes wide open, though the light’s glare might be painful? We will care when the “Faustian Satan” demands one’s life – not just the present life, but the one, as we’ll yet perceive, we might have lived, but for our "shut-upness" -- the life of love that should have saved us from oppressive dread.
John can’t help Mary overcome her dread, he can’t save her. John makes it worse for Mary by underlining, in terms of stark contrast, what she doesn’t have, the real love she missed out on. For a long time, Mary won't be able to admit this -- she wants that "white picket fence" too much; she'll admit it later, when unforgiving distant memories and perceptions of love's true identity lead her to perdition. This will be her undoing; but, in this desolation and disillusionment that becomes wisdom, also the beginning of rebuilding her life; this time, in open-eyedness, founded upon "the true self."
All of our “shut-upness,” all the religious “philistinism,” so carefully crafted to guard against clear-eyedness, like a security blanket, condemns us to that ultimate focus of our dread – the loss of the one who was meant to save us.
"Shut-upness" causes us to lose our capacity to see. We become blind, to all good things, but especially to one’s real love in life, one’s forever love, the eternal darling companion, the one God sent to save us from existential crisis, the great dread.
Acknowledging this bereavement, let us also take heart to perceive an indirect encouragement from Love Personified. If you are missing someone, one whom you sense is more than a “Mary” or “John” to you, that is, you believe in your deepest heart that this lost love is your eternal mate, then we can know that this “runaway bride” or “groom” will yet return to you.
Before I offer explanation, allow me say a word about how common this is.
There’s a psychic-medium who writes books and counsels people on the subject of lost love. I won’t mention the person’s name because there are aspects of the books and the counseling which I believe to be errant. However, this teacher does get one thing very right. In the hundreds of counseling cases, virtually every one of them, there is what’s called a “runner.”
A “runner” is a potential mate, possibly, an eternal mate, who is not ready for total commitment to true love. Typically, says the psychic-medium, one or both of the putative “true” mates are already in a relationship, or a marriage, when it’s realized who they are to each other. One of them, out-of-phase with the other, sees clearly that their love is true, that this is the real thing, but the other potential mate is not ready, is still immature in various ways, and becomes a “runner,” one who hides from and denies the overwhelming feelings – just like Lana who wanted to “pretend it never happened.”
Because it is so common for even true lovers to be (temporarily) out-of-phase with each other in terms of spiritual maturity level, one of them, very likely, will assume the role of the “runner.” And if you are the one who has “eyes in the head” and sees reality, what should you do until your mate regains, or acquires, sanity?
hitting the wall
For now, there’s not much you can do. You cannot make a cake bake faster by turning up the heat, you’ll just burn it; you must wait for your mate’s own internal timetable to bring on greater sentience and consciousness. This is not an easy time, for either of you. And it could get worse before the "runner hits the wall."
Your mate, if beset by great fears and a sense of guilt, could transition to the other side and even spend some time in a dark place, a “time out,” allowing for meditation and reorientation toward what’s real. Your job during this sorrowful time is to maintain your own sanity so that you can help your suffering Beloved – when the time is right.
What form might your help take? It could one day be of the dramatic sort, as in the case of Lateece or Clarice. Or it might be simply that of remaining sane and non-judgmental, so that the “runner” will not sink into a self-condemnation or drown in guilt when “eyes open.”
But, I said there’s a word of encouragement in all of this grief. It is this. The great Spirit Guides teach that eventually everyone will come to sanity, to “the light,” to reality. And this means that your lost love will one day give up the “runner” status.
This impulse toward maturity, if it were possible, is even greater for true romantics. Why is this? It’s because, as we’ve discussed, the pain of living without love -- and this, eternally! -- without meaning and purpose, without wholeness and completeness, is so devastating, so contrary to what we were made for, that your dearest “runner,” in utter exhaustion, will yet come running back to you.
Postscript: About my despairing friend who called – The next day I felt that I should call him, if it were not too late. I was able to reach him, we met to talk, and he’s now on a better path. I should have offered to come to him right away when he called, but it never occurred to me – I was too off-balance by his announcement, and I apologized to him for my thoughtlessness.