the escape

"Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one."

- Voltaire

 

I broke out of The Box. Some imperceptible cracks had appeared, letting in the faintest slivers of light. My peripheral vision apprehended them and brought them to me. At first I couldn’t look at them, these fleeting light shafts. They made my hair stand on end as they snaked this way and that. I observed them with half-closed eyes and they inched closer, circling me. There’s more where we came from, they said. They told me not to be afraid, they had come for me, to help me escape. At night when I closed my eyes to dream, I was no longer in The Box. The light had smashed it open and danced triumphantly to an ancient rhythm that I had felt deep inside for a long time.

Light and dark are all encompassing in this desert. The passing days speak of their rhythm and we embrace both out here. The stars come out in their thousands during the blackest of nights and the dark abyss is poised to take you in, swallow you whole. Dawn, like a lover, is full of whispers, promises and secret gifts. Her light drops you into that space between words and thoughts. The unforgiving noonday sun slows you down as you enter the afternoon of life. And so it is, each morning we are born fresh, new and shining; and we’re swallowed into the infinite chasm of darkness at night, returning to the starlight from where we came.

In The Box, there was no awareness of this, no experience of it. No light, no dark. Just a purgatorial existence that made no sense but continued on and on. We are taught from the earliest of ages about work, about the sort of work that is valuable. We are taught that we must get a job, tow the line, not question authority, all so we can receive our pay cheque at the end of each week or month that just barely sees us through to the next one. Because in the meantime, we are hypnotised into buying, consuming to fill that void that can never be filled. We buy stuff we don’t need for ourselves, for others. We throw them away when they break or get old and buy more. The stuff piles up deep in the belly of the earth as we continue to suffocate her - and ourselves - with our consumption.

In the meantime, we are slaves. We offer up our allegiance to entities that keep us enslaved. They tell us that individual initiative and enterprise are fruitless, dangerous. They tempt us with tantalising things, like stability, certainty and extra days paid holiday so we can further barricade ourselves from life. And we work day after day, week after week. On weekends we douse ourselves into oblivion to forget the lies, the wastefulness of our lives.

Breaking free of The Box has not been easy. The false conditioning of what work is, the value of it, is entrenched, insidious. I didn’t even realize I was still its slave until much later, when for the first time in my life, I started doing work that was meaningful and humbling and most of all, not in subjugation of malevolent institutions that feed - and feed off - the trance-like need to consume.

Nowadays, in order to earn money, I clean, I create a welcoming environment, but most of all, for the first time ever, I feel like I can truly be of service. That to me is the most valuable work. It is humbling and gratifying even on the days I feel like I can’t be bothered. Doc and I run a vacation rental business and we’ve been welcoming people from all over the world to stay at the guest house on our property for over a year now.  I’ve found myself remarking numerous times that cleaning the guest house is more fulfilling than any of the fancy jobs I’ve had in The Box. Because this actually means more. Yes, it’s our own business; but beyond that, it’s more meaningful because it is true work. It quietens the ego while allowing silent pride in simple work in the service of others. And our guests sense that and in turn are respectful and considerate.

Through all the years of sitting in The Box, at a desk, going to endless meetings, surrounded by important people saying important things, I never once felt any joy, any sense of fulfillment from truly being of service. Doc and I are not saving the world with our business but I like to think that we’re spreading some of the joy that we feel from being able to share this incredible spot we are fortunate enough to call home. I like to think that some people leave with a slightly different perspective, even if that inevitably fades over time. The memory of it can still be summoned when necessary, a seed can still be planted when needed.

The Box is not easy to escape. It has us hypnotised into thinking that this is the only way.  It has organised life in such a way that there is only this one straight line that we see ahead of us, that we see as realistically available to us. But what it doesn’t want us to know is that there are infinitely more powerful energies at play that reward us and collude on our behalf when we recognise that the safety net of The Box is an illusion; when we recognise that true work is when we are in service, humbling, an ego eradicator. And it is when we take that leap into the unknown, with no safety net in sight, that the universe becomes our closest confidante, our accomplice, our benefactor.

The cadence of birth, death and rebirth is a reminder that this rhythm of life offers us endless chances to jump in and embrace it in all its unpredictable glory. These endless chances remind us that there is something rooting for us, waiting patiently for us to wake up, waiting for those little cracks to appear so the little slivers of light can wriggle their way in. Let them blow your world apart if you are ready.