Heartbreak | The Hermit’s Way

I recently have been attending a Buddhist dharma talk weekly session through a local Buddhist temple. One of the monks reached out to me to chat and get to know me better. She asked me about my difficult emotional states I’ve brought up when we’ve shared in class. I rattled off some straightforward description with some points about how I’ve been too attached to certain ideas of partnership and love and that I just need to reevaluate and come to terms with the possibility for a different narrative, understanding, and path for myself. I thought I would get some sort of agreement or pat on the back, but the actual reaction I got surprised me and made me understand my treatment of myself differently. Instead of just seconding such a tough approach to my situation, she paused and told me that it makes sense I would be grieving and struggling with all the transitions and restructuring I described. I realized in that moment that something some friends tell me is right: I don’t have a lot of compassion for myself. I strive and push myself hard to be better, to understand deeper, to stand taller, and to be stronger. When I fail, I tend to focus on how I didn’t do well enough and have to be better next time. As such, recent transitions have been tough. I tend to think of myself as weak or stupid rather than as working through legitimate issues. The fact that a monk who is well-versed in the phrasing and concepts I used basically indicated that I should pause and grieve with grace, accepting those feelings as legitimate, was quite the message to me.

Then, today happened. The last few weeks have been hard in general in that there’s flashbacks to a year ago and shared moments, as well as shared intentions and aspirations. We had talked at some point during that time about spending holidays with her family – helping her cook and enjoying the time. So, the loneliness of today, being alone, facing the existential shifts of looking at no partnership, no family, no fatherhood in the future as quite likely outcomes (No, I’m not being dramatic – it’s going to be difficult to find a match who is not settling for my sense of compatibility; such a person will be rare. That’s a statistical certainty.) has been incredibly painful, much more so than regular recently, and regular is wishing that my heart would stop, daily.

I’ve sat with all the feelings and tried to muster up the energy to just focus on other things that need done. That’s kind of my Zen of heartbreak: chop wood, carry water (as I’ve spoken of before). However, it was difficult, and I tried to focus on being patient with precisely that process.

One key focus for that was to go on a Jingle Bell Run – a family tradition of running in the Christmas Eve darkness with bells for the kiddos to hear. I didn’t have any bells though but took the idea up in spirit. I haven’t been able to run for months until recently, so doing this particular run was quite meaningful.

As I left, my heart continued to ache with all the feelings. I turned on a live album by my favorite band as the running vibe. The soft nuances and crushing crescendoes of electric energy really jogged my heart and my mind as my feet moved along as well.

Somewhere in the middle of the run, I realized – “Why am I so worried about these future concerns and the loss I feel from the recent past? So what if I won’t end up in a partnership, as a father, or with a family? I can take the extra time and independence to invest in myself, to become smarter, stronger, and deeper. I can mentor others in a variety of ways, find opportunities to be helpful, compassionate, and involved, and help children in other aspects, perhaps volunteering. I can dedicate the love I felt for another in new directions, expanding my heart to hold and help others in the various ways they cross my path. So what if relationships have never left me feeling seen or valued? I can value myself better than anyone else ever will be able to.”

In recent months, tarot and I Ching have time and again counseled me to find strength, insight, solace, and equanimity within myself. Find and strengthen my inner light of truth has been the counsel, and let it shine — the Hermit card.

I’ve tried, but I fall away from it time and time again, as I’ve wanted love. I’ve wanted partnership, but honestly, it’s time. It’s time to accept the path of solitude from a place of strength and empowerment.

I was challenged at one point that the feelings of connection I had with my person of heartbreak were all stories in my head. They weren’t. That’s not how I exist or engage with life. I don’t get lost in stories that I create. I push myself for insight, truth, authenticity – as said above, and sometimes, I’ll even sanity-check with other people just to make sure I’m not getting lost in a bias. They were intense experiences. I didn’t get lost in my head. I got lost in my heart. It may be the closest I ever get to unconditional love for a romantic partner. The best I can describe: I saw the other person fully, even with all their myriad flaws and darkness, yet accepted them and would have challenged them to grow and get stronger – as they did me. Seeing our future together brought images of two birds flying together to the treetops and beyond, soaring in accompaniment. It doesn’t matter that the other person didn’t feel the same. That doesn’t invalidate this as a true experience that I had, and I’m certain that evaluation of what we could have been is absolutely true, although it matters not. I was reminded of this again tonight, however, as the music at one point felt like it expressed that soaring, and fittingly enough, it’s a song called “Halcyon”.

To return to the events of tonight: I came home drenched. The rain tonight was steady and pretty hard. This too was somehow uplifting. In thinking of the Hermit’s Way, I remembered all the times I have had runs just like tonight: running through the wet and cold alone in the dark with so few people in life I could even describe such an experience to, nonetheless with whom I could share exactly what it feels like. I realized though that in some ways I always struggle with and resist this process but also always end up feeling enlivened and sometimes exhilarated by the sheer wildness of facing wind, rain, and cold for miles with nothing but resolve and a pair of shoes. Introversion and self-reliance have always been some of my greatest strengths. They’ve acted as an engine for many of my endeavors, even writing this blog right now, as well as learning many of the things that I reference in it all of the time.

In any case, I think it’s time to trust the process and move past the pain of struggling with being alone and the grief of losing a great love. It matters not that I’m pretty certain I won’t have anything like that again. It matters not that that certainty is bolstered by having looked through 100s of online dating profiles. I’ve played the field or cast my nets, and it was just what I expected. The path forward for me is one of investing in the Hermit’s Way, and I will do so with the strength and sure-footedness of someone with light feet. As I wrote in a creative project for school long ago:

12) Healing thyself.  As Nietzsche said: “Everything good is instinctive – and consequently light, necessary, free.  Effort is an objection, gods and heroes belong to different types (in my language: light feet are the first attribute of divinity)”.  Light feet as divinity – a revelation!  Feeling the weight of heaviness keeps us from running, dancing, flying…  We encounter the suffering of others all the time, but we are more than just vessels for suffering.  Staying healthy requires a lightness of foot, mind, and soul, rather than the heaviness of disease; it requires a quick, easy readiness to laugh!  Remember that to heal oneself is a dance with the abundant radiance that is in oneself, in the Other – “You”, and in the world.  Light feet… 

Writing mine. Quote from Nietzsche: Nietzsche, F. (2002).  Beyond Good and Evil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Honestly, that’s an aspiration that’s hard to live up to. I’m sure I will struggle with accepting this still, but I felt bolstered tonight with a lightness of foot that I haven’t felt in quite some time. Whatever the case, I will aim to take up my hermit’s lantern and shine.


May this help others find their own lightness of foot and inner truth as they struggle to grieve and grow.

Gassho!

Heartbreak | Nothing in the world

I was recently spending time with a friend and flashed on a German song from years ago, half-remembered. I was driving us back to his place, and so I pulled it up on YouTube to play on the drive and amazingly, sang along, remembering almost all of the lyrics. It just felt so perfect for my vibe around heartbreak. I felt that I should translate it and share here. I love the opportunities to translate and share German on the blog, as seldom as they might be, and sometimes the sad, sad songs are precisely what makes us feel understood in difficult feelings. As such, I thought that others might enjoy it in that regard as well. The song is “Nichts in der Welt” (Nothing in the World) by die Ärzte, a band that had a huge place in my heart when studying German in my 20s.

This song is dark yet sweet and familiar. I showed my translation to a friend before posting, and she laughed and said this song was exactly the same as many things I have recently been saying about my process. I hope that others will find a shared experience in offering it here. The one thing I would say though… I loved her not because she was cruel, rather because I saw everything she was, including her darkest elements, and I accepted all of it. I don’t think there’s any deeper version of love than to see a person completely, accept them and yet still challenge them in their elements of not being the full light of who they could be, but maybe that’s just my perspective.

My translation:
It is over, and the sky is black because the sun no longer shines here.
It is over; however, I hope that that which separated us reunites us again.
It is over, and nothing in the world will ever make it good again.
It is over – if I could, then I would run away from my life.
Would close my eyes and would try,
To simply ignore my feelings.
I want to be so cold that everyone freezes.
Don’t want to ever fall in love again, in order to never lose again.
It will be a while more before I comprehend what that means:
It is over. I don’t know why – tell me what I’ve done wrong.
It is over. You have ripped my heart to shreds and thought nothing of it.
You are so cruel – that’s why I love you.
Although I know of course that you aren’t good for me.
My feelings are in and of themselves,
Laughably simple and simply laughable.
Because every thought only circles around the one:
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over; however, idiotically, I still want to be with you.
It is over – and I don’t want to comprehend: every person is forever alone.
Love is only a dream, an idea and nothing more.
Deep in the inside, everyone remains lonely and empty.
It means that every ending would also be a beginning.
However, why does it hurt so much, and why is it so difficult?
I let you go, even if it tears me apart.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, over, over.
It is over, and nothing in the world will ever make it good again.

Original lyrics:

Es ist vorbei und der Himmel ist schwarz, weil die Sonne hier nie wieder scheint.
Es ist vorbei, doch ich hoffe, dass das, was uns trennte, uns wieder vereint.
Es ist vorbei und nichts in der Welt wird es je wieder gutmachen können.
Es ist vorbei – wenn ich könnte, dann würde ich vor meinem Leben wegrennen.
Würd’ die Augen verschließen und ich würde probieren,
meine Gefühle einfach zu ignorieren.
Ich will so kalt sein, dass alle erfrieren.
Will mich nie mehr verlieben, um nie mehr zu verlieren.
Es dauert noch, bis ich begreife, was das heißt:
Es ist vorbei, ich weiß nicht, warum – sag mir, was hab ich falsch gemacht.
Es ist vorbei, Du hast mein Herz zerfetzt und Dir gar nichts dabei gedacht.
Du bist so grausam – darum liebe ich Dich.
Obwohl ich doch weiß, dass Du nicht gut bist für mich.
Meine Gefühle sind an und für sich,
lächerlich einfach – und einfach lächerlich.
Weil jeder Gedanke nur um das Eine kreist:
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, doch idiotischerweise will ich immer noch bei Dir sein.
Es ist vorbei – und ich will nicht begreifen: Jeder Mensch ist für immer allein.
Liebe ist nur ein Traum, eine Idee und nicht mehr.
Tief im Inneren bleibt jeder einsam und leer.
Es heißt, dass jedes Ende auch ein Anfang wär’.
Doch warum tut es so weh und warum ist es so schwer?
Ich lasse Dich gehen, auch wenn es mich zerreißt.
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei, vorbei, vorbei!
Es ist vorbei und nichts in der Welt wird es je wieder gutmachen können