Right now I feel like my life is a birth canal, my universe pressing in on me from all sides, so much pressure.
And as I look back over my nearly-32 years on this earth, I can see that my whole life was a series of wombs and birth canals. Comfortable lulls followed by strait and narrow (frequently uncomfortable) squeezes into my next phase of growth and development.
“This too shall pass,” we hear. A couple of months ago I Googled the phrase because I wanted to know where it came from. I had always heard it used to comfort those in suffering, but it applies to the “wombs” of our life as well:
The phrase appears in the works of Persian Sufi poets, such as Sanai and Attar of Nishapur. Attar records the fable of a powerful king who asks assembled wise men to create a ring that will make him happy when he is sad, and vice versa. After deliberation the sages hand him a simple ring with the words ‘This too will pass’ etched on it, which has the desired effect. (Source)
Wherever we are in life, the one certainty is change. Things will not always be as they now are. The best of times are just as temporary as the worst.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the contractions of our earthly trials only lasted a few hours as the contractions of birth do? Wouldn’t it be nice if we were given nine months of peaceful rest in the comfortable wombs of our lives? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hook up some Pitocin and an epidural to quicken and numb the pain of those difficult squeezes into growth?
The mortal in me says, “Yes!” But the immortal in me says, “No!” And as much as the mortal in me wants to roll her eyes and say, “Whatever, dude, hook me up and numb me out ’cause I refuse to feel this anymore,” she also knows that the immortal in me is right. Sigh.
And so I go on, slowly easing my way forward, not knowing for sure where I’m going or what I will see when I emerge from this birthing time, but hoping that there are comforting hands and a warm embrace awaiting me.
I can do this.
So can you.