It occurred to me part of the reason I’ve been so vexed despite finally finding work, getting better off financially than I’ve been in years, and generally crawling back to what could be termed “stable poverty” after so much near-destitution.
I’m still fighting against things I can’t fix. I don’t know how long it’s been but I’ve been fighting for so long. That’s why my death in 1915 was so hard, and why I’m always so anxious no matter what happens. I’m always resisting inwardly, always asking if there’s another way when I’ve got a good thing going, always struggling with nothing to gain, and whenever there’s an effort- however futile- to move forward or make some change, I’ll dive right in because the thing I fear the most is helplessness. When I died in 1915, there was nothing I could do, but that didn’t sink in. When I found I could sort of poke into material reality and keep an ever-so-tenuous grasp on this phenomenal world, I did just that. I held on with all my might. I fought and struggled because fighting and struggling was all I could to to keep from facing the fact that there was nothing left to do and Dear Old Jack, who was always afraid that life would pass him by, was finished.
So here I am with an easy path laid before me, and I’m frustrated. I want something to fight for, something to struggle for, and in lieu of that I keep expecting a disaster that might never come. I’ve been told that I’ve scared off my roommate’s friends because they thought I had the makings of a paranoid prepper and although I’m not knuckling down for an epic fight with the government, I do kind of like the idea of provisioning and being ready for the worst that can happen because it gives me something to do. Give me a trench to dig and I’ll have ad-hoc relief for a while, feeling like I’m doing something for the artillery barrage I’m expecting any minute. Fighting and digging and doing some small thing was never the worst part of the war; it was always the lull in between, the long stretches of tense quiet. It didn’t matter if those efforts came to nothing; it became a habit to struggle as much and as often as possible.
So here’s my reality: I have a stable membership with a good church, I have a job starting soon which while in no way cushy will at least provide adequately for my needs, I have a fiance whom I may soon have the money to marry, and I have enough money to go out and enjoy some of the lively cultural scene in Portland I’ve been missing out on.
But waiting for things to come to bear? Waiting to get my schedule in hand? It’s too much to deal with. And I know better than to say “things will be better once I have some certainty” because they never are. I’ll keep finding things to be uncertain about and worry about and keep looking for futile ways to feel like I’m putting up a good fight against dangers, real or imagined.
I can’t help but think, this is exactly what Christ and Buddha were warning us about. This is what binds souls to the cycle of reincarnation. This is what keeps us from becoming whole, enlightened beings. We cling to things we scarcely understand and fight against things that aren’t really there. And we do it so naturally! We have this diabolical wiring that keeps us from being happy unless we’ve always got something to strive for. It’s the Archonic impulse, the one that always has to have its hands busy building something, literally or figuratively. The Light Yoke isn’t easy because we are, at our basest, driven to strive for things that can never be.
And so I must return to meditation, return to a mindfulness of what my true motivations really are and how I can let go of the misery I bring upon myself to no good end. Ultimately, we are both the savior and the saved; the salvator salvandus. This is the heart of Gnostic soteriology, that one must be saved from one’s lower nature by a divine spark that, aware of its true nature, may reconnect with the greater part of the godhead; it is religion in the purest sense, from the Latin religio, reconnection. But as with most flavors of soteriology, there is one caveat: it must be accepted willingly and graciously and we must live according to its precepts or we will go nowhere. The lower nature must be starved and the higher nature must be nourished. The salamander who purifies itself through the alchemical process of calcinatio is often represented with the motto nutrisco et extinguo.
And so I accept my failures, but I will not allow them to become me. It is not in fighting against an adversary but in nourishing a savior that one is saved from the need to always struggle.
Sweet sommer spring that breatheth life and growing,
In weedes as into hearbs and flowers,
And sees of service divers sorts in sowing,
Some haply seeming and some being yours,
Raine on your hearbs and flowers that truely serve,
And let your weeds lack dew and duely starve.