The Third Noble Truth


An attractive woman from Canada wrote to me on an online dating site. This is a rare enough occurence since I am almost always the first one to initiate contact with an attractive woman. Stranger still, though, was the similarities in the struggles we have faced in our lives. Both raised by women who almost certainly suffer from some kind of personality disorder, both the black sheep of our family, both aware of the kind of healing we need as well as the fact that we may never really get that.

After I read the blogs detailing her struggles, I was rather astonished by these similarities. It’s not like these are the kind of details one puts in a dating profile. I was at a loss for words. How to respond? I had  no idea, but I did my best.

Afterwards, I was laying in bed–on the couch really. I can usually measure my level of depression, anxiety or despair by whether I sleep on the couch, whether I turn the couch into a bed, or whether I actually sleep in my bed. Couch-as-couch has been my go-to for the last couple of nights. And I am laying here playing solitaire on my flip phone and it is dark and quiet. The only thing I can really hear is the sound of my dog breathing . . . not quite snoring, but almost, and sleeping in the crook of my arm. I love Red with my whole heart and one of my sincerest wishes is that he can understand how much I love and cherish him. Also, how much gratitude I feel towards him. When he sleeps so peacefully snuggled in my arm I suspect he might understand. There is no greater feeling; there is no greater moment.

My first entry in this most recent attempt at a blog was about the first noble truth. I figured I would get to the rest of the truths in due time. And then as I am laying on my couch tonight, something moves me, quite literally. It starts because I have to go to the bathroom, but it morphs into something else. I start remember some self-care techniques and concede, with a bit of an Eeyore attitude, that I might feel better if I change out of the shirt I have been wearing all day and into something like sleeping attire. Then I change the sheet on the couch too. I have not yet turned the couch into a bed (baby steps, Bob!)

The thing that has gotten me so down in the last few weeks is a sense of resignation about my life. That in some utterly plain and undramatic way, I was feeling that my life was for all intents and purposes, over. Not to say I am suicidal because that is simply an exit that does not appeal to me in any way. But more like this  . . . This feeling like there was nothing left to do. Nothing I wanted to do. And a certain, steady kind of despair that I would never feel passionate about anything ever again. I have wondered, intermittently, whether this is sign of my descent into irreperable sadness or whether perhaps, at some level, it was a surrender. I gotta admit, I still have plenty of fight in me and was definitely hoping it was the latter.

And then I thought that maybe my work, the big work, the main work, has in fact been accomplished. I grew up as I did, but with the great fortune of having the awareness to know that this mess is not something that should be passed down any family line. Breaking the cycle seems important. My two living brothers have done it in their own ways, even though I am not entirely sure either of them would see it that way. So  maybe, at a karmic level, if I just for one minute really take to heart those buddhist teachings, the ones I know but cannot really prove, the ones about every living being having once been your parent or sibling . . . if I take these to heart, I might begin to feel as if my karmic mission was first and foremost to break the cycle.

Given that one aspect of past that haunts me hardest and deepest is my lack of worldly achievement, the idea that I may have unwittingly accomplished an important karmic mission is a very calming notion indeed. Because while I have no idea what tomorrow will look like or even what dreams may come tonight, I can rest assured that the chain is quite definitively broken. The work that I have done is small, but crucial. It may even be a version of the third noble truth: the cessation of suffering. Not all of my personal suffering, to be sure, but one particular bit of suffering that needed to be taken care of. Do I really need any more to feel that I have accomplished something with my life? Maybe. But right now, which is all there is, I am content with the work I have done.

And it may be for the first time I type these words with a kind of intention I have never felt before: May all beings benefit.


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