I know the feeling of showing up and feeling stagnant, feeling lopsided, uncomfortable, pain, being overwhelmed. I know the tension of showing up vulnerably in person after being scarred. I know that after self-isolation for not long at all, even a day or two, it can feel like absolute shit to go out in the world and be with people. To show up in the midst of the storm, off-center, confused, distracted, deprived, can feel dumb, meaningless, as if it’s just not worth it.
But I’m here to say that’s an illusion. When you show up and feel these emotions and physical disruption, it’s shaking up what’s been stagnated and becoming aware of what’s already there. In fact, self-isolating, numbing out, escaping in the same pattern, over-indulging, hedonism, that’s what actually creates this junk residue within you. Getting out in the world awakens feeling, and you actually begin the hangover- the detox.
And really, I’m here because I also know just how horribly desperate I’ve been trying to get other people to show up. To make it something small, to find the right people in the right place, to specifically bond over a shared interest, to design it as a partnership so they have ownership in the project. And yet it’s less than one in a thousand people that show up at all, who even stick around and become a friend in the process. Less than one in a thousand who make it through the storms of instability and their inner resistance pushing them to run away and return to the comfort of the cocoon.
I say this now because a close friend has told me just how desperate she is too, having dedicated so much to reaching out to people and trying to create something together. To at least transform and express the devastating tragedy she has experienced and show it to those who would learn from its wisdom. What you don’t see when you stay in the cocoon, is all the people drifting, who miss out on the presence of one person who might listen. Who might pay attention, give them a nod. To say “thank you” or “I understand” or “I want to understand”.
If you’ve been in the cocoon too long, when you finally exit, the detox will be brutal. It will be hell. And every instinct in you has been driven to avoiding pain, seeking pleasure. But eventually this pattern turns the cocoon into a prison. You grow a tolerance to pleasure, and slowly feel it dissolve from your life into a dead boredom and disappointment. It becomes corroded into pain, and your reaction is to avoid pain- which finally pushes you out of the cocoon with nowhere left to go. You feel gross and ugly and fucked up. But if you show up. To an event, to a friend, to your community, to the trees and the birds, to somewhere fresh, and surrender to what is, the rest will take care of itself.
Because your presence alone is a miracle. In an existence where suffering is so natural and created in the body and minds of human beings, where that suffering drives them to nihilistic destruction, it is a miracle that you could leave the cocoon and be present at all. It is a miracle that the poison becomes the cure. Your presence is not causing harm. THAT is the miracle. Your presence is the potential to leave that cocoon, face the wilderness, and become the transformed butterfly. Your presence is the opportunity for us to make an actual connection, improvised, uncertain, open to what could be. Something new, and in surrender, not requiring reality to conform or meet an expectation, but instead responding to reality as it is.
The choice is to stay in the cocoon or leave. Stay asleep and comfortable yet empty, or deliberately enter the wilderness and survival, and play the game that has been offered to you, even if it fails and even though it won’t last. It’s all we have.
Christopher McCandless wrote in his journal as he was dying alone, starving in the Alaskan wilderness what he realized after a long time of seeking. He wrote: HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.
I extend that in life. Creation. Play. Equanimity. Presence. Only real when shared. To put this another way, when you resign yourself to the cocoon, to non-existence, to self-hatred, rejection of the world, you are not only robbing yourself of the world, but also robbing the world of you.
I have a question for you.
What if you could become the truest expression of who you are?
You would be a gift to us all,
and I’d want nothing more than to be in your presence.