Leave Yourself Behind

627. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

My grandfather is 103 years old. Last time I saw him he said, “Heaven don’t want me and hell won’t have me.” He feels as if he is ready to go yet remains in an earthly limbo. He eats. He sleeps. He waits. He has outlived two of his four children, his wife and all of his peers. He still flirts with the ladies in the lunchroom though it is more out of habit than from ambition.

In every story cycle there is a place where “what once was” no longer exists and “what will be” is not yet come. It is in this in-between place where the old identity dissipates: you are no longer a child though not yet an adult; it is the time of first pregnancy, you are no longer singular and not yet a parent. In a story, the in-between is usually told through the metaphor of a journey; you must leave behind everything that you know to find what has always been within you. Frodo leaves the Shire as one being; he returns to the Shire as another being, having discovered his darkness and his capacity to persevere. Journeys are bitter sweet.

Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” It is ironic, isn’t it, to leave yourself behind so that you might find yourself? To think we will find love in another person only to discover that it is the love within ourselves that we seek.

I am not yet half of my grandfather’s age and yet I already know that heaven and hell are both here – not some other place – and we choose which we occupy. We are both the seeker and the gatekeeper. I am perfectly capable of dividing myself against myself and, therefore, occupying hell. I am also capable of knowing myself as whole, regardless of my circumstance, and that is the door to heaven. And, there is a third “place” that is neither heaven nor hell but the space of the journey; all life is movement after all. There are no arrivals; heaven and hell are rest stops, the occasional oasis along the way.

One Response

  1. Great piece, David. I especially love that opening paragraph!

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