It’s funny, the things that can take us out of the moment, out of the flow of life, and isolate us, make us feel like an outcast on an island to ourselves. It often begins with passing judgment on another. The moment I do that, I am saying, either, that I am better than that person, or less than that person, or perhaps just “different” from them in some way. Regardless, what it does is throw up a wall between me and them – between me and life.
The more walls I throw up, the more isolated I become. It’s hard to believe that I once lived my life in a near-continuous state of isolation – even when I was amongst many other people. I saw myself as different from many, or most, of the people in my life, and so I was. There were all these people that I was better than, then there were all these people who I envied, because I was convinced they were better than me. And then, there were those who were simply “different”, for a whole variety of reasons. That was a very lonely place to be. It didn’t really matter why I did that – (was it my upbringing, was it my religion, was it “race mind”, was it my ego, was it addiction?) – what mattered was, the resulting state of isolation I found myself in really, really sucked.
Alcohol and drugs would provide temporary relief from that state of being, artificially breaking through the walls, and helping me to feel like “a part of” something bigger than myself. I discovered a comraderie with others when I drank or got high, that I didn’t feel when I was straight. Being an addict, that eventually stopped working, as feeding the beast of addiction eventually became much more important than the state of connectedness that it had brought me to, early on.
Just quitting the alcohol, and then drugs, was not the answer, though. The isolation continued, unabated, to the point of not being able to stand it, or myself, or life, any longer. Twice, when I had stopped using, I became very suicidal. I felt damaged beyond repair, and simply wanted out. That was my only real hope, as I had lost all other hope of ever finding a way to connect with others, or with life itself. I thought that I was just a bad mistake, and a quick correction of that would have been great. However, I lacked the incredible courage it would have taken to follow all the way through on my attempts to implement my exit plans. The cliffs I tried to drive off, the ovens I stuck my head in with the gas turned on, the pills I swallowed, the great suspension bridge across the Delaware River I crossed many times with the intention of jumping mid-span. I just could not do it. If intention had been enough, it would have happened. My deepest desire was to say sayonara to this life.
It was only when I began to see the commonalities between myself and others that I began to realize that I didn’t have to be so alone. Whatever stood in the way of me and dropping those walls, I had to consider letting go of. Some things went easier than others. Some, I held onto with an iron-clad grasp, as long as I could possibly stand it. Some old ideas, and supposed ideals, do die hard.
Eventually, you learn that we all share the same human condition. While we each are unique individuals, and have those things that no one else has exactly like we do, we have so much more in common with each other. Learning to focus on the commonalities does not make our individuality disappear. Not at all. If anything, it enhances it, as others get to see it, and reinforce its value to us.
The more we lose the need to judge others, the need to key on our differences, the more we become in tune with life, with others, and with ourselves. This allows us to live in the moment, right now.
The minute I begin to pass judgment on others, though, I lose the moment. I begin to isolate myself again. It’s so easy to do. The best way to get back into the moment, when I found that I have wandered away from it? Stop doing that. Stop judging others, stop worrying about what others think of me, and get back to what’s most important. This moment. Right now.
Step into it. See what’s there. Feel it – taste it – breathe it – suck it in, and blow it back out. Relish it. Bathe in it. Roll around in it. Dance in it. Sing in it. Laugh in it. Cry in it. Be in the moment.
It is life. It is now. Share it.