“This place where you are right now/ God circled on a map for you” — Hafiz
On “Survivors,” a British TV show about the 1% of the population left alive after a sudden virus, fear and terror are the greatest threats to survival. In one episode, a father isolates himself and his two children from all of life out of fear of coming in contact with the deadly virus and in terror of the ill will of others to take their resources. He does not let his children out of the house and uses violence to ward off anyone who approaches. He does not wait to find out if they harbingers of good or evil. His daughter states that being alive is more than just breathing. His terror smothers.
In an interview on WTF, Judd Apatow paints the surrendering to joy as the throwing back of the head in laughter, as we do so, opening our necks to vulnerability. He continues with the idea that we stop ourselves from succumbing to the full experience of joy as we envision someone waiting to “slit our throat” when so exposed. We are conditioned, through experience, through parents, through history, through poetry and literature, to anticipate the end of joy. Thus, we live in the terror of joy rather than in joy.
In reality, no one is waiting to slit our throats. In reality, we often slits our own throat before finding out no throats need to be slit in the aftermath of joy.
This is painful and exhausting.
In his blog, Stephen Archer writes, “I didn’t want to look forward to something with an expectation. Too easy to get burned.” He avoids hope; he doubts it. Is it a delusion? Is it “simply wishing for a future that is not like this present”? Maybe sometimes there is some throat slitting, but isn’t hope what allows that to heal, to have the faith to throw back our heads in laughter when joy, inevitably, reappears? Or that allows us to believe we will be able to do so again one day?
I want to not need hope. I want to just be in what is moment.
In our fear of the unfamiliar, the unknown, the inexplicable, we risk killing the joy for which we long. Luke 2:9-10 states, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’” The sermon that followed concluded with the need of the shepherds for active, everyday hope in their otherwise dreary lives.
In yoga this week, my teacher talked of sradha, the yogic teaching that we continue to do what we do with the confidence that it matters based on our past experiences. She called this the yogic version of faith, different than the blind faith of other philosophies or religions.
I find the phrase blind faith redundant. Is there really any other kind?
I cannot reconile the oxymoron of faith being built on evidence. It is when I seek evidence that faith falters, that it turns into terror of joy and fear of hope.
Faith is what allows me to go forth even without sradha/experience, to believe that if I listen beyond my fear/terror and act in love that joy will find me wherever I am because I am where I was meant to be.
I want angels to point me in the right direction. I want a sign, which is perhaps a sign that I need more faith.