“The words ‘I am’ are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you”. ~A.L. Kitselman
I saw the movie Tree of Life last night. It’s a long film and more a collage or kaleidoscopic adventure than linear story. It’s definitely more art than entertainment, though I found it to be both. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes and perhaps the soul. It met with mixed reviews from the audience, but then so did Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism; you name it.
About half way through the movie, the guy eating popcorn next to me checked the time on his watch. When it was over, the woman behind me sighed loudly and said “Oh thank God. That was awful.” (I wondered why she found it important for the rest of us to hear that and why she stayed through the entire film. Why spend precious moments of life voluntarily enduring something that causes you pain?) In general there was a huge question mark hanging in the air in the theater as everyone made their way to the aisles and back to “reality,” speaking in muffled late evening voices or simply walking together in silence.
I carried that question mark home with me and it wove itself into my dreams and threaded its way into my first waking thoughts this morning. Never mind trying to come to grips with some missing details in the storyline like how old was the boy when he died and whatever happened to… or what was being said / not said about afterlife. Never mind, as well, how much I related to a story set in the 1950s with an authoritarian parent and the death of one of the children.
What I was sitting with (or what was sitting on top of me) was the paradox of significance and insignificance.
In the film, we are treated to amazing scenes of the Universe. The sense of space as infinite and time as eternal is awe-inspiring. I felt so small while viewing those images. While making breakfast, I continued to feel the tug of war between my desire and passion for creating a life I enjoy, making a difference while I’m here and some sense of nihilism. I experience both extreme discomfort and huge relief when I ask myself “what’s the point?”
I took the paradox into my morning meditation / contemplation. After getting myself deep into a meditative state, I found myself saying out loud:
I am significant in my insignificance.
I sat with that for a moment and then I said:
I am insignificant in my significance.
I let it resound in my being for a moment, without answer, just experiencing the impact of the words.
Then, thinking I would say “I am both”, I found myself uttering:
A huge wave of energy washed through me. I can’t describe it better than that and I can say that the tears (OK sobbing) came with the wave and it was not sadness, it was more like gratitude. I saw a sun floating before me that I decided to take into me. It filled me with another wave that forced breath in and out of my throat chakra. It was the breath of life. That’s what it felt like; like the first cries of a newborn babe.
The mind, being the wonder it is, may look for connection with the biblical verse from Revelations: “I am the alpha and the omega.” But, honestly, I have no need to follow the mental thread any further. I was in the experience and what I knew for sure was that something was coming online.
Some part of me that I’d left for dead was recognizing I’m alive and that all that matters is this gift of Life.
This gift of Life is exactly that, a gift and not something we have to wait to live until we’ve earned it through our good deeds, our political, spiritual or eco-correctness. It’s not a reward for achievement(s); not a destination on some far horizon.
The generous giver of the gift only wants us to receive the gift. Receive.
I don’t think we are expected to give anything back. Our generous receiving is our giving.
Those redwoods I hear singing in celebration when I listen deeply – perhaps they are singing joyful songs of “I am.”
We spend a lot of our lives adding extra words to “I am.” By those words we define ourselves and others. We lay claim to our specialness in a way that leaves us bereft of our true uniqueness.
We get our knickers in a bunch over what to say after “I am” and we get confused if what we think we are conflicts with what we wish we were. We carry the baggage of the words by which we call ourselves around with us, adding more and more through the years. Some of those words are lovely and some, downright degrading.
Perhaps all we need is our name (which in many traditions is the source and the resonance of our life power) and to know that at the root of every name is Love.
As one who is Love, we are each and every one, significant. We are the unique expressions of creation; the vehicles through which creation gets to play in form; sees and is seen, hears and is heard, knows and is known.
In our sense of time, this unfathomable timeline of eternity, my life, your life, is but the blink of an eye, as it is said.
At the same time, all that is and ever was is now and the blink of an eye is a major event in the now.
copyright (c) July 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved