One of my great teachers used to say, "The transformation has already taken place." I think what he meant is that the sincere yearning to improve, to be "better" (whatever that means), is more a reflection of our inability to see clearly than a testament to how unimproved we are. With a little bit of grace, we're able to see we're already good enough, just as we are. Grace and the ability to acknowledge the work we have already done helps us continue walking the path of becoming, minus the self excoriation. It's a revelation whenever I remember, for sure.
I realized yesterday, oh yeah, the transformation has already taken place. I'm already in early old age. It's not like I'm middle aged until this coming Wednesday. It has already happened. I'm still officially in my 50s, but I am so NOT middle aged anymore.
I was thinking about the layers of earth's atmosphere. There are "pause" layers between the named layers, indicating the gradual changes in density, temperature and quality in the atmosphere. Likewise at the edge of the solar system, there is a heliopause, a fuzzy zone that's neither in Brother Sun's domain nor outside it, either.
Maybe the consternation prior to the sixtieth birthday is a kind of cognitive dissonance that will end on the actual birthday. If I think of the last couple of years as middle age pause, my emotional state makes more sense.
One of the smartest people I know, a dear one, speaks of menopause in the same way. You don't know you've been through it until after it's over.
I am grappling.
In the meantime, grace is readily available, as my great teacher intimated. For instance, one of my brilliant Facebook friends, someone I've never met but who nevertheless has noticed I'm struggling, posted for me the final paragraph from Emerson's "Illusions" yesterday. I've read and re-read it. Wow.
There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament: there is he alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On the instant, and incessantly, fall snow-storms of illusions. He fancies himself in a vast crowd which sways this way and that, and whose movement and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned, insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he that he should resist their will, and think or act for himself? Every moment, new changes, and new showers of deceptions, to baffle and distract him. And when, by and by, for an instant, the air clears, and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still sitting around him on their thrones, -- they alone with him alone.
Happy Saturday, y'all, from cold, windy yet absolutely dry Washington DC. Onwards & upwards to the end of the pause. Shalom.