I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my relationship to life.
I pictured life as a force and myself alongside it, and I knew I was its lover.
Like the topic of sex in general, the lover-of-life relationship is packed with cliches. It’s as if, in our uneasily-erotic world, we feel relief at the trite phrases and cynical jokes that enable us to mediate sex, to talk around it, without actually delving into it. The same is true with our talk about the ecstasy of life.
Look how often the conversation about joy veers into safe language: bliss, faith, spirit, belief.
One of the reasons I avoid self-help and life-coaching is a tendency for that scene to whitewash the goal…to sanitize happiness, to make joy into this wholesome, pristine emotion. It’s downright religious in its studious transcendence.
I want to be life’s lover. It’s my greatest calling.
To overcome, to release, to progress—screw that! It’s like saying parts of life are not worth loving, are to be dealt with, disfavored. And if life’s my lover, how can I selectively reject the parts of it that don’t measure up?
I don’t want to overcome anything. I want to drink life in, until it and I are one.
What does it mean to be a lover of life? Does it mean shoving things into yourself—food, drink, experiences? Does it mean doing things to other people—changing their insides, their minds, their behavior? Or are those things pale substitutes or uneasy mediations?
What does it mean to be a lover, of people or life itself? We all know. We just don’t think of ourselves as one of those individuals, the lucky few who are picked up by the Universe, bandied about, and turned out.
Truth is, life desires us back. But like a shy admirer, it wants us to declare ourselves first.
It’s not about finding out what the lover supposedly wants, and doing it automatically; to be either martyr or machine allows nothing inside you. And it’s also not about finding out what you want, asking for it, receiving it, and giving thanks. That’s sure to bore both of you after awhile.
Too many things are turned into a performance checklist. Or, in rebellion against that, they’re touted as the next arena in which blissful “self-fulfillment” is the yardstick of success. To be life’s lover is to exist in a state of ready receptivity, of attentive action. To hold life, as you’d hold a lover, in the deepest attention. To cradle it, even as it surrounds you. To adore and worship it.
Life has so many things begged of it, so much raised to it in supplication. Maybe it just wants to be seen. To be wanted. To be lusted after. To be chased.
I’m the opposite of zen. It’s the opposite of detachment. I wouldn’t have chosen to be born, if I wanted to rise above this world. Instead, I want to sink into it, to let it envelop me.
I want to swallow it until it swallows me, dissolves me from the inside. Only then will that radiant violet flame inside me be free to shine.