I like to indulge philosophy like ice cream – up to my elbows and for as long as possible. There was a time in my undergraduate years that my day would be a continuous cycle of read, contemplate, repeat – alternating coffee shops and couches until I hit satiation point. Which, like with ice cream, wasn’t until I reached the bottom of a number of barrels of delicious flavours of contemplation. There’s a part of me that relates to the archetypal scene of an ancient philosopher pouring over texts and scrolls which, except for the glow of the firelight, is enshrouded by darkness, silence and solitude.
My undergraduate years are long gone now, and for the last decade the “stuff” of every day life has been the dominate theme – marriage, baby, post partum depression, potlucks and fundraisers, divorce, two degrees, registration in a culturally “nobilized” profession and the various other motifs of being a human trying fervently to fit into a mainstream mould. This, for the most part, has felt like ripping that philosopher from her firelit solace and throwing her into glacial waters before requiring her to dance the charleston at a barmitzvah. Cue deep discomfort and bewilderment. I did my best, I knew a few steps, and performed them to the half satisfaction of the world around me. But I think it was obvious, at various points, ” I don’t belong here”. I didn’t belong between the spinach dip and the latest gossip. I felt more alone there than I ever would tucked away in the woods with a lamp and a good question in my head.
Extracting oneself from being tightly wedged in a crevasse includes a mixture of finesse and fortitude. Such as been the last few years of my life. Since passing my licensing exam a few months ago I have felt like I made my final yank from a dark and rocky terrain to laying atop a plateau, breathless and scraped up, but hopeful. Recently I’ve made it from a breathless heap to all fours, looking around at the landscape and all I see is space. What a beautiful and daunting thing. What now?
Its been years since I’ve had this space and I’m being careful, now, to listen to the voice I’ve come to know as the deepest part of myself lest I find myself stumbling blindly into yet another crevasse – wedged and suffocating. I find myself engaging some of my old activities, from the years which I’ve been most happy – conversations, books, movement practices, nature – they beckon and I go. Where do I go? Deep. Rappelling into the deep caverns I choose now, consciously and naturally, falling into the wellspring of big questions and “BIG” talk with my beloved comrades in spiritual spelunking. I am committed to depth. But what does that mean? . Part of my recent curiosities have included interest in a global conversation about spirituality and yoga that echoes my long standing questioning of what it means to go deep, to live from the place of soul, to seek truth. It has never been enough for me to swallow spiritual platitudes at face value – I want to know what it means to embody them, to live them, to scream them from my cells.
The first philosophical cave I’ll be diving into is to ask what is spirituality? Why does spirituality matter? What does it even mean? I have always considered myself “spiritual” but I want to unpack that. For myself. For those that I teach. So that I may have a clear trajectory and navigational tools. I think spirituality has a bad reputation these days – with its associations to new age flakiness, and ungrounded aspirations. But it is remiss to throw out all things related to the quest for soul. There is something real, substantial and life giving to be had amidst the refuse of misguided and misinterpreted teachings.
My hope is to blog the descent into each of my questions as I go. A grounded spirituality – I believe – begins with a humble and honest one. To explore and experiment openly means I approach intimacy with you few but faithful readers! And I could ask for nothing more of a spiritual path than to bear openly the stuff of my humanity, in hopes that it may find your heart in the earnest search for a meaningful life.