The Gift

In the journey I call my life,
seeing that which made me feel uncomfortable was too painful to bare.
Avoiding seeing and feeling was easier.
Looking around me, avoiding deep feeling,
avoiding connecting to pain was supported and encouraged.
Commercialized, institutionalized and rationalized
avoidance was marketed everywhere.

As a young man, I kept bouncing between seeing, feeling and avoiding pain.
I was looking everywhere for a fix,
a handbook with all the answers, a magic pill.
I became a father, a husband, a provider.
Uncharted waters of life. Nothing had prepared me for this,
I acted like I knew what I was doing.
I pretended to be what was asked of me.
I clung to beliefs and fantasies about life, but did not have a clue.
Whenever, feeling deeply surfaced,
I couldn’t or didn’t recognize what it was.
It’s gift was hidden by clouds of avoidance.
I kept substituting all kinds of addictions for feeling deeply.
Doing what I thought was right, doing what was expected.
Clinging to my deluded view, I continued to avoid seeing and feeling.

Seeing and feeling would relentlessly show up again and again.
At times, seeing that my strategy wasn’t working,
I would momentarily let go of the habitual avoidance.

Along the way, there were those that showed me another way.
Shining a mysterious light on my journey,
revealing that there was more to seeing and feeling than I knew.
Still, the dark clouds of habitual avoidance kept the gift hidden.

Then, when Death came,
I couldn’t run or avoid the upheaval,
the erupting volcano of pain.
No place to hide,
death’s sting was everywhere, in every pore.
Death woke me up to life’s impermanence.
Then came regret and shame.
I was avoiding intimacy.
Unknowingly, I was seeking that which I was avoiding.
A precious life was lost, never to return.
What have I done with my life? What have I missed?
Avoiding seeing and feeling killed access to
the very breadth and depth of my being.
Death forced me to see and returned me to myself.
Feeling and seeing all that life offers up.
It is a boundless, immeasurable gift.

Will Rauschenberger

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Posted in Dharma Inquiry.