“I’ve always felt very strong being in opposition; my strength derived from fighting – for, or against. But strength in opposition requires linearity and measurement of progress; you have to know where the ground is, and if you’re gaining it or losing it. Both adulthood and the work I do (10 years of humanitarian aid, I’m an epidemiologist – I deal with the prevention and control of infectious diseases- and work with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres) have really been eroding any sense of clarity I used to have about winning or losing.
I’m not sure we can judge for ourselves what strength looks like. My friends and family see the work that I do as taking enormous strength. But mostly what has driven me to act has been emotional chaos – passion, anger, fear, ambition, righteous fury at injustice. I used to think these qualities were synonymous with strength, and that doing this work would give me more certainty about truths of life, and hence more strength. Instead, this work has evaporated much of my certainty. Yet somehow in that vacuum, strength has come to light. What does this mean? Is strength not certainty?
Advanced meditation practitioners refer repeatedly to this experience that the ‘further’ you go in meditation practice, the more un-grounded the world seems. You lose all boundaries, the ground slips away, there are no clear parameters of Right and Wrong. It is a nightmare of dis-embodiment. Yet, lost in that miasma, one finds the body. Bizarrely, supported by nothing, it is still strong.
I don’t yet know how to live fully in that kind of satisfied uncertainty. And I don’t know how to get to that place of strength because the route seems to be a map-less land. All that I find I have left to do is what I’ve done to get me here: to continue to show up – to play, to fight, to watch, to resist – whatever. To have faith that the answers are emerging. To not go away quite yet.”