The past few weeks were filled with several earthquakes, Occupy efforts, and in my case a general sense of confusion. I’ve hit a crossroads in so many areas of my life requiring me to walk on what feels like shaky, unsafe ground. Like many people I crave security and a feeling of stability and instead of searching for it within myself I’ve sought it in friends, lovers, money, and attachment to just about anything that resembles safety.
As humans we created science and math and projected a version of predictability onto existence and in a sense creating our security. I’ve known we did this for so long and it wasn’t until recently I have experienced and not just “known” how the illusion of security misrepresents life itself. Only during earthquakes, something unpredictable and scary are we reminded that even the things we rely upon to be stable (um, say the ground)…really aren’t. We can’t predict earthquakes anymore than we can predict our own lives.
Without a lot of long-term romantic relationships I’ve relied upon friends, family, and money for a sense security. I silently snickered at people thinking they believed marriage and a significant other would somehow make the world whole for them – believing “until death do us part” could be the key to the world not falling apart. Recently I realized I do the same thing with other parts of my life. So here I am at 29, missing being near my family, without an income to feel secure, and clinging to friendships as a way of feeling complete. The truth is, I’m afraid. It’s terrifying to know I’m the security I seek.
In one of my classes last week we spoke about the time in human history about 10,000 years go when we transformed from hunter/gatherers into agricultural society staying in one place. Physiologically it made no sense…hunting and gathering required less effort than having animals and tending to land. I think we craved the stability, continuity, and control of having our own system. We got tired of the faith and unpredictability necessary for that lifestyle of not being able to plan a meal or without the comfort of settling into a “home.” It’s here I remember the beautiful teachings of Buddhism and the emphasis on “groundlessness” (a useful insight when the earth is moving beneath you) where we give up the perceived security and attachment to physical wants and things. In this state we seek security and build roots in the our spiritual life and in the Buddhist wisdom and teachings. While I agree with this, I want to find solace in the physical world as well.
I admire trees for their ability to root, I realize now I envied this in them believing I didn’t possess it myself. So often I want to be more “grounded” or “down to earth.” We see more examples of ungroundedness knowing when someone’s soul isn’t in their body and instead in their head (rhyme intentional, as always) in the form of anger, fear, or other emotional state. Being ungrounded means we are somewhere other than where we physically are. The beauty of being down to earth or grounded isn’t that we are deeply connected to earth and instead connected to that quality within ourselves.
Now I see how I am the stability in the chaos (and by chaos I mean shifting tectonic plates) and in the groundlessness of existence lies vast freedom and the comforts of creativity and transformation. I will probably always crave a form of stability and knowing now safety within myself means transforming the very way I relate to it. I look forward to watching the ground beneath me shake and somehow (hopefully) still staying grounded.