And then what?

“And then what?” the patient asks. We don’t know. We can’t predict the future. Another word for the future is the unknown.

“I want to know what to do!” the patient states. But we can’t know what to do until we know what we feel. And we can know what we feel only by sitting here and now with what is.

“I want a road map!” the patient says. But there is no road map to life. Life does not provide us with road maps. Life just invites us into life, which keeps not fitting our maps, ideas, or preconceptions. Life invites us into her world (reality), not our world (fantasy). We wait for life to be “fair” or “right” (the rules of our home planet) when life keeps operating by the rules of planet earth.

“But if I listen to what you say, I’m walking into thin air!”
Th: “You have been walking into thin air ever day you’ve been alive. We never know where our foot will land in the next second. Every step you take could be the step into death, but it is always a step into the unknown.”

Every feeling, every surprise, is the gateway into the not-you, reality. And that step takes you into the next-you. Life is always opening doors for you to walk through, every moment offering a new gift for growth. But we reject life and its gifts: “this is unfair”, “he shouldn’t have done that”, “that was wrong”, “this doesn’t feel good”, “ouch”, “how could he have done that?” “I can’t go on like this”, “she’ll come back,” “this is unbearable”, “I can’t stand this.”

Unfair? Yet it happens. He should not have done that? But he did. It was wrong? But it happened anyway. Turns out life does not need our permission to happen. This doesn’t feel good? Yes, we feel pain when reality peels off our skin of illusions and denial. How could he have done that? Easily. He did. You can’t go on like this? That’s not true. You have been and are going on like this. She’ll come back? Will reality stop being reality? This is unbearable? Yet, you are bearing it in this moment. You can’t stand it? Yet, you are standing it in this moment. You don’t want to? That makes sense. We don’t want to face reality, the loss of our illusions and false self. We want to ward off reality, lie about it, and avoid our pain, the gateway to growth.

We fight reality and its gifts. We argue with it, not realizing we might as well howl at the sky when it rains.

“And then what?” We wait for something other than life to show up. “How long do I need to accept reality before it stops being reality?” “How long do I need to accept my feelings before I stop feeling?”

Pt: “Are we there yet?”
Th: “Where?”
Pt: “The not-here, the not now, the not reality.”
Th: “We never get there. But we could be here now.”
Pt: “And then what?”
Th: “Then you could be here, now. You. Sitting in what is.”
Pt: “I thought you were supposed to help me!”
Th: “Yes. You thought I was here to help you avoid reality, pain, and life. But that is the pathway to pain and suffering. All I can do is help you face reality, pain, and life. That is the pathway to pain without suffering.”
Pt: “That doesn’t sound so good.”
Frieda Fromm-Reichman: “I never promised you a rose garden.”


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