Sitting with the Contradictions

Yesterday late afternoon I went for a walk downtown. I needed some new fitness shoes for doing exercise and decided I would go look for some. I’m not crazy about shopping, but thought it would be nice to be out and around people in the late afternoon sun. It’s cold, but sunny and clear here in Barcelona this weekend. As the afternoon turned to evening. I began to feel an old, familiar feeling. This can best be described as a hurt, an aching loneliness and feeling of isolation and alienation. This isn’t all I felt, because I was also feeling quite energetic and happy, but we humans are complex and can and sometimes do hold contradictory emotions inside and that’s very interesting. But these difficult and unpleasant emotions were there and couldn’t be ignored and they were growing as afternoon turned to evening. I’m a person who spends a lot of time alone. I’m single and don’t have family here (I’m an expat from the Midwest U.S.). I have a great network of friends here and they are like family to me, but I also like solitude. Even so, from time to time I do feel envious of couples, as I felt last night. Seeing people, couples, groups of friends as I walked, in bars and restaurants, enjoying the night, caused me to feel jealous.

This aching longing and loneliness I felt also took the form of craving. I felt a desire to go into a bar, where I knew, we all know, that in spite of the dangers there is the possibility of great and potentially intense pleasure. I’d done this before, meeting interesting people I saw and connected with, maybe as a friend, maybe as a lover for one night or just a short time. They never seemed to stay in my life. But that was then and that then is another story. And this is now. I continued on , deciding that it was time for me to go home and make it an early night. Along the way, I saw couple and friends together in bars and restaurants, drinking, smoking, laughing. In spite of my pain, I could also feel happy for them. And I was able to pull back from myself enough internally to know that from time to time I will have those difficult, painful feelings. It doesn’t matter how much therapy and reading and inner work I do and have done (aaaa lot), they are just a part of me and part of the human experience for a lot of us (I dare say all of us). But the thing is not to run from them, through drink or escaping oneself through the company of a person or easy entertainment (TV, internet, etc). The thing is to sit with them in a comforting and non judging, attentive way, until they pass, and they do pass.

On my way back I saw a church. I decided to enter. They was a mass in service, not many people, but being in that place on a Saturday night helped me to feel more grounded within myself and in the things I’ve come to really value at this time in my life. I knew that in that moment I could hold the hurt and the loneliness and longing and that it would pass and that a calm would follow, the calm of a Sunday morning when one feels rested and open and quiet inside. When the promise of a new day fills one with joy and gratitude. As I write this now I feel just so and happy and proud for having resisted the cravings of a Saturday night because what’s on the other side of that makes it all worth it. And what was once a garden of earthly delights is now a minefield. I’ve made a commitment to myself to exchange all that life for a way of living which is more substantive and more meaningful. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it and it is right I strongly believe.

Will you join me in this commitment?

“Woman with Dove”, 2010, oil on canvas, 130x110cm

You can find more of Robert’s art work on his website by tapping here Robert Froh

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