Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all the others behind. . . . In the process of discovering our true nature, the journey goes down, not up. . . . Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. . . . We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we will let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of compassion. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.
Women have the power of life and death. We, after all, give birth and the fate of humanity is in our hands. That is why men try so hard to rule us, my dear. They know if we once looked well on what they have made of the human existence, we might close our legs and within our barren wombs bring the comedy to an end.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've had trouble with transitions. I don't mean the usual life transitions of birth, death, divorce, moving — everyone has trouble with those. No, I mean the little transitions, like the one between waking up and putting my feet on the floor. Or between turning off the car and going into the house. Or between getting out of the shower and getting dressed. You can see why life has been very, very hard for me.
No one who has stood for high values — love, truth, justice — has died being able to declare victory, once and for all. If we embrace values like those, we need to find ways to stand in the gap for the long haul, and be prepared to die without having achieved our goals.
The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.