Down The Rabbit Hole

by Maira Butt

Part of the reason I find myself mostly apathetic these days is because the world seems hell-bent on continuing its onward march toward apparent oblivion with or without me. It’s difficult to believe anything we do is actually worth anything in the grander scheme of things. No wonder we fluctuate between being egocentric, fame-seeking, celebrity-obsessed materialistic hysterics and apathetic, bored, frustrated, irritable lost souls.

I suppose the elephant in the room is choice. A vast expanse of life is spread out before us, uncoloured and blank. It is the responsibility to paint this canvas to the best of my ability that chokes me sometimes. And then we inevitably ask the question What if I miss something? I kind of see free will as a flowchart; where each decision leads inevitably to different outcomes and the obsession to get this route ‘perfect’ can be paralysing.

This is the intimidating yet seductive element of control. After understanding that much of what we create in life is our own responsibility, there is the fact that much of what happens in our life is a pure and utter inheritance. For instance, our genetics, the colour of our eyes, the texture of our hair, the shape of our skeleton and our cognitive strengths and weaknesses are somewhat predetermined. In addition to that, much of our self-image and ideas about the world, what psychologists call ‘schemas’, are shaped and formulated and put in place when we are children.

And what about the resistance to Love which is so prevalent on this material plane? On an individual level, there are the moments (perhaps lengthy periods) where we have felt misunderstood, ignored, unseen through periods of suffering and wounding. Moments, where the pain seems to gather into a worthless nothingness, when the love we freely give is unreturned or not felt and the endeavours we cautiously sell our life and soul for amount to vapour, nothing but a black hole in the timeline of our lives. There is the guilt we live with every day for our tenacious ignorance and subtle complicity in the pain of human beings who suffer daily in war zones, areas of civil conflict, villages and cities, towns and countries. Places where our gluttonous lifestyles are resourced at the expense and at the cost of the individual lives, pasts and futures of others exactly like us in form and spirit. We know we are different only in our ‘fortunate’ outcome in Life’s cruel genetic lottery. Not to mention the emotional trauma and pain of countless souls, without an identifiable source. So, what are we supposed to do?

‘The question sprung from the depths of our being & the answer must come from the same level as the question.’ – IAO131

If we ignore the tormenting aspects of existence, we live a half-life, in a kind of limbo or purgatory. We may ask ourselves if it is it not better then, to let life take the wheel and watch our default destiny fulfil itself. We know that surrendering our co-creative function is the opposite of freedom, but how can we step into freedom when we fear it? After all, we could never eradicate poverty, war and inequality totally right? It’s just human nature.

And with so much injustice infecting our every pore, it is easy to take the seat of spectator and immerse ourselves in the microcosm and try to forget. The thing is we can’t forget things we haven’t processed; our soul is too smart for self-deception. We leak out what we think we have forgotten through our emotions, and the cycle perpetuates itself and continues. In other words, there is no escape.

‘The only way out is in.’ – Junot Diaz

My intuition knows the cycle can only be broken through a form of collective repentance. Repentance or tawbah in Arabic means ‘to turn back’. It carries heavy, biblical connotations which make us think of it as cataclysmic, disempowering, humiliating and useless. It feels guilt-ridden and shame-filled. After all, who wants to turn back in any way to something they essentially gave up on in the first place, right? It would be embarrassing. Repentance is often conflated with a passive form of forgiveness. But there is a subtle distinction between the two. Repentance is incomplete without action and a departure from the sin or source of pain. I agree with IAO131 when he says we do not need further knowledge or possessions to ameliorate the human condition, rather we need a radical re-orientation of our way of being in this world, one where we become who we are. When we repent, we turn back to this every moment, despite every failure, fall, and humiliation. We start from scratch from where we are and seek to actualize the energy within us. And this is the active forgiveness which as Oprah Winfrey quotes is to ‘give up the hope that the past could have been any different’. In other words it is an acceptance that it [the past] is complete, and a visceral awareness that it happened. And to continue in pursuit of the Goal anyway. To ascend despite every weight chaining you to the Earth.

This is what it means to transcend Fear.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”- Atticus Finch

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