The Sparkle

May 17, 2019 by Renee Linnell
I had an epiphany while driving across Florida to a radio talk show interview a few days ago. It’s about traveling and about comfort and about safety and depression.
I had been so afraid of life, of the world, of people after I got smashed apart by life. I moved to a very quiet village in the mountains and I created a very safe, peaceful, Zen space in which to live. I simplified my life, removing all of the non-essential activities. And I hunkered down. I became a hermit. I read a lot and meditated a lot and wrote a book. And I got very used to staying home.
But, then the book got published. And the book tour began. And suddenly, after six years of Hermit Mode, I had to be back out in the world. And it was incredibly uncomfortable. I wasn’t sleeping well in the hotel rooms and wasn’t eating well because I couldn’t make my own food. I was stuck wearing the same clothing over and over because it was so much easier to travel with just a wheel-aboard. And I was exhausted by it all. I began to dread it and resist it. And yet, I also noticed that I felt liberated in a certain way. There was so much coming at me that I didn’t have time to dwell on anything disconcerting. And, if I was honest with myself, I was meeting amazing people and seeing amazing things. I felt alive again.
And my epiphany was this: when we are young, everything is new. Each day is a bit scary, but it is also thrilling. We are constantly bombarded with the new and we are used to not knowing and to being uncomfortable. Like little sponges we soak up everything. Learning and growing every moment of every hour. As much as we want to hide behind Mommy or Daddy’s legs, we are forced out into the world hour after hour, day after day. And there is so much life-force energy flowing through us. We walk around wide-eyed and in awe. Constantly amazed.
But, then we grow older. And we’ve seen a lot. And we know it all. And we become bored by everything. And not only bored by everything, but we become afraid. We’ve had enough life experience to know it hurts, and it hurts really badly, when things go wrong. So we begin to create buffers. We find someone we love and we say we will stay together “until death do us part.” Whew, no more break-up heartbreak. Got that one settled and nailed down. We find a home we love and we buy it. Whew, no more searching for where to live or enduring the stress of moving. We find jobs and we find friends and we stay with them. And slowly, without us even realizing it, we become stuck. Our lives are secure, yes, but they become unbearably boring. Nothing new comes. And while, yes, that feels safe, it also, if we are honest with ourselves, sucks the life-force energy out of us. We become stale. We become lethargic. Life no longer has a spark. We dread going to work. We no longer feel sexy around our spouse. And then we get diagnosed as depressed and put on medication.
We crave expansion. We crave new fresh energy. We crave new experiences and learning new things. We just forget. We get older and we forget.
I realized another thing while driving: once we’ve created this secure boring stuck fortress of a life, when tragedy hits (and it always does), when something big changes, it is unbearable. We get bowled over. Versus, when we are moving all the time, when the new keeps hitting us, tragedy comes and we have no time to dwell on it, something new is coming down the pipeline. This, I realized, is what the saints and mystics mean when they talk about surfing life. Letting go and simply surfing the flow of life. My book tour forced me to let go of the stable, of the routine, and my eyes are swollen with exhaustion and my body aches with it, and yet my heart is happy. I feel free. And light. And unburdened. Because I know something new and amazing is just around the corner every day. Yes, something I love leaves, and it’s sad for a moment, but just for a moment. Something new is on its way. And life begins to sparkle again.