This morning I started reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron again (thanks to my royal and regal friend Maureen Monte for the gift of this powerful book!). The first time I read it, I devoured it cover to cover. Some chapters I’ve come back to multiple times. The pages are highlighted, underlined, words in the margins. I love when I encounter a book that invites me in like this, that begs me to devour it, use it up.
Back for another helping.
The first chapter “Intimacy with Fear” got me thinking about how I confronted head-on my fear during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I distinctly remember digging a deeper well with my anger. It was a sunny spring day, the kind that begs you to be happy and experience joy, where you find your feet moving along effortlessly, your mind wandering back or ahead to to be with people you love, to do things that inspire you. But I wasn’t feeling happy nor joyful and I wasn’t moving backward or forward in my mind. I was stuck in a dark place. Right here, right now.
A dark hole, getting deeper. Falling. Through some sort of profound grace, I found myself embracing the possibility of getting lost in this hole. I looked into it with curiosity. The longer I looked, the more open I found myself. The closer I got to the depths of my anger, the softer it became.
Pema speaks to how getting to such a place requires us to be ‘nailed to the present moment’. It’s only when we have nowhere to escape that we can truly confront the fear that so often runs us and rules us.