A Wider World

"Within the center of my ring / I found myself, and that was everything," the poem says. Whatever my twenty-year-old self was, it was the pivot on which the circle of my life revolved. I do not think that I was a more selfish person than most. Through such unhappiness as I had known myself, I had a feeling for the unhappiness of others, and at least to those I liked I had it in me to be a good friend. But I was, as I have said, centered on myself. The tree, the cloud, the sun —  I knew there was a wider world beyond myself and my small circle: the world that Saint Francis praised God for, the world that had marked with such sadness and pity and weariness the face of Jesus in Da Vinci's study. And I knew that somewhere out there, or deep beneath, there might well be God for all I knew. But all of that seemed very remote, mysterious and unreal compared with the immediate and absorbing reality of myself. And though I think I knew even then that finding that self and being that self and protecting and nurturing and enjoying that self was not the "everything" I called it in the poem, by and large it was everything that, to me, really mattered. That, in any event, was the surface I floated on and in many ways float on still as to one degree or another we all of us both do and must lest otherwise we get lost or drown in the depths. But to lose track of those depths to the extent that I was inclined to —  to lose track of the deep needs beyond our own needs and those of our closest friends; to lose track of the deep mystery beyond or at the heart of the mystery of our separate selves— is to lose track also of what our journey is a journey toward and of the sacredness and high adventure of our journey. Nor, if we have our eyes, ears, hearts open at all, does life allow us to lose track of the depths for long.
~ originally published in The Sacred Journey and Listening to Your Life