In order to live life fully, you’ve got to be wiling to get dirty sometimes. In a chock-full train with festival visitors returning home, I realise how averse I am from the dirt of life. Still their hot, sweaty bodies covered in streaks of dark mud and their big beady eyes, tainted with a lack of sleep and an excess of substances, remind me of an aliveness I haven’t felt for a long time. My conscious life may be clean and organised – just the way I like it – , it also has a sterility that keeps me from living fully all aspects of life.
This modern-day image of Dante’s inferno, the National Railroad group hug from hell, is telling me to let go. I see it, I feel it and so I decide to go with the flow. After all flow is not only encountering life as I desire it to be – clean, swift and easy – but also surrendering to that which is and what is, is smelly bodies rubbing against me, a folding chair in my back, a big-city punk on overdrive screaming in my ear and a rising room temperature which empowers the vile odour in the cabin until it triumphs over the wisps of thin air.
My favourite question for such circumstances is ‘what is life teaching me’? Looking at what it is I’m resisting I immediately see an opportunity to create more space for myself, not around me (that’s quite impossible trapped as I am), but by expanding the space I make available within, space to get dirty, space to sweat and space to reconnect to the old, unconscious, boundless, disorganised, wild, obnoxious and obscure, rebellious teenager part of myself, the part of me that danced half-drunk and sweaty until the early hours of the morning without as much as even one thought of taking a shower, the part of me that shoved binloads of uneaten and then forgotten sandwiches into drawers so that my parents wouldn’t find them, until they showed the most wonderful colours of mould: bright orange and purple mixed with fluorescent green and white, real works of art.
Life is telling me to surrender and let go of control, to celebrate the opportunity of being packed into a train compartment like sardines in a tin with fishy-eyed, rowdy strangers with big hearts and little money in their pockets, and with a wonderful sense of community and kindness. I embrace it all and immediately feel more whole and alive.
Even weeks later, I still find myself weirdly inspired by this unwanted experience that life threw at me so generously. I find myself saying yes to watching football matches with heaps of wanna-be footies in seedy pubs, saying yes to going to amusement parks (is this also me?) and planning a holiday camping in a tiny (and no doubt sweaty) little tent in a rainy, muddy country.
There’s a place and time for everything underneath the heavens. There’s a time for colour-coding wardrobes and for leaving the dirty dishes stacked in the sink, there’s a time for making love and a time for confrontation, there’s a time for understanding and clarity and a time for confusion and upset. We can live in moderation, neatly squeezed in between the parameters of lack and excess, right in the area of what life is supposed to be like, but that’s not where life lives. Life does not allow us to dictate it. It’s much bigger and broader than that. The more conscious we become, the more necessary it also is to fully and consciously embrace the mundanity of life in all its aspects, not just the ones we consider to be pure and worthy.
As I study my favourite 3-year old guru deliberately, joyfully and loudly creating chaos in the living room and 5 minutes later meticulously putting together the pieces of a puzzle with her tongue squeezed between her lips, or jumping tirelessly on the trampoline before collapsing into a deep stupor for an hour or two, I get life at a deeper level. Life doesn’t judge. It just is, in big wavy motions and in sudden surprise events, the only constant is change as they say and all is good.
What is it you believe you should not do or be, not despite, but because you’ve taken consciousness development training?
By Mieke Beurskens