Life is beautiful...

Date Published:  9 June 2022

Post written by: 

Robyn Sheldon

even if it is also deeply shitty..

Life is beautiful – and I hesitate to say this because it sounds like fluff, but it’s beautiful even when it is really, deeply shitty.

Yesterday I crashed into that grey, hopeless place that sucks most of the oxygen from my chest and saps my life force until it is no more than a teeny dot in the microcosm.

Yet Roberto Bagnini won an Oscar for his movie Life is Beautiful. He was so delighted that he hopped over the seat backs and the heads and shoulders of the people in front of him to get to the stage to accept his ‘Best Picture’ award. The film was about a concentration camp in Germany.

My life is pretty normal, no concentration camps in the nearby surroundings, but here is what happened to me:

The night before last I was instructed during meditation to record the dream I would be given shortly. It turned out to be a dream about a project I’m involved in at the moment. In it a pixie was dancing through a moss covered forest. As it skipped and cavorted the energy of its delight transformed its surroundings into a fantastical garden buzzing with life and light. It then tied elaborate bows on its veldskoen shoelaces and cartwheeled out of the dream. All well and good so far. Brilliant in fact.

Yesterday I spent in front of the computer on my own. Working. Hard. It’s what I do. Then yesterday evening only one person pitched up for meditation online. Followed by one more who arrived late. The first person didn’t say hi, she left her video and audio off and failed to respond when I asked if she was there. A while later she posted a random notice in the chat-box with a url to some other event. I’m not sure why it slammed into me, but I felt like I was meditating naked, exposing my soul self to something careless; not only not present but somehow creating a gaping hole in a sacred space.

And I tumbled into that hole of self doubt and despondency. I wasn’t worthy. I wasn’t appreciated, I felt unloved and lonely and awful. Nothing had actually changed yet Botswana felt dry and dusty and cold. My life was shitty. I hated everything about it. I tried so hard, worked so hard. I tried so hard in the face of this sad, depressing world with all its sad, depressed people. On and on.

I went to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I eat Salticrax and chocolate at one in the morning. It didn’t help. Eventually I fell asleep exhausted. I didn’t have an epiphany on waking, it was more like a slow recognition that seeped into my consciousness. It was about moment by moment surrendering through the suffering into the joy. Gautama Buddha (the present one) led people to enlightenment through recognising that life is suffering. Maitreya (who is apparently the Buddha-to-be) is prophesied to lead people to enlightenment through joy. SAME THING, different description.

This morning as I wake into this recognition, my dog Anoosh licks my nose, the air is cold and smells of woodsmoke. My lungs might still be full of anxiety but I can breathe down into my belly. Thich Nhat Hanh walked with each foot kissing the earth. I think I can do that.

Life is beautiful if I choose to make it so. Like the pixie. Like Roberto Bagnini, like all the Buddhas, past, present and future. Life is beautiful, I am beautiful, this moment is beautiful in all its awful sadness. There are laughing doves, a coucal, two hoopoes and some weaver birds greeting the sunrise, some of them rather raucously. My feet in sleepy socks kiss the concrete stoep and the earth and the dry, dusty delta silt beneath them. It kinda feels like home.