“I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun!” ~ Thomas Merton
It’s so unfathomably easy to lose yourself. Every day is a fight to remain conscious. Maybe this is in part what Jesus was referring to when he said the path to life is narrow and only a few ever find it. Staying awake to your life really is the hardest thing of all.
I find myself surrounded by dreams, fantasies created from masks I like to wear. Yes, some part of me likes to wear them, and that’s a big part of the problem. I find myself not merely tricked into falling asleep, but enticed.
The dream mask is like a warm blanket that eventually smothers out all my true life. But that’s not how it feels at first. At first it feels like a gift…of escape, of safety, of hiddenness. In the dream I don’t have to stand exposed and naked to the world. Behind the mask I don’t have to face anyone anymore, not even myself.
We are surrounded by fig leaves, every day, all the time, cloying at us like clammy hands, trying to get us to put them on. Hide our shame. Hide our glory. Let go the fight for your true life. Pretend. Pretend. Pretend. For some the fig leaf is alcohol, for others it’s work, or sex, or sleep, or entertainment, or a thousand other things.
How clever it is they call it “make believe,” because that’s really what we do. If you don’t like the extreme challenge of living wide awake to the truth of who you really are and the life you are living (and it is an extreme challenge), then you can make believe a smaller world, one with safer edges and easier demands, a warm blanket that asks nothing of you as it lulls you to sleep and slowly smothers you to death.
Make no mistake: To live wide awake to your life is a radical and dangerous act. You are out of Eden, standing naked in the sun now. There is no hiding here, neither of your darkness nor your glory. And behind you, the beckoning of the beautiful war that you alone must fight to find your way back Home.
It all begins so simply, and seemingly innocent, just with a question you ask yourself:
Do you really want to be alive?