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  • Writer's picturedavidauten

Inner Well

We are richer than we think, each one of us, Michel de Montaigne once said. We do not need to look far and wide for something to soften the aching of our existing. We only need the courage to close our eyes and listen. At first, this may feel like listening in a desert of great silence, and because of this silence we may be inclined to seek quick and easy answers elsewhere. We might find it more convenient to place our faith in those who seem like they know something we do not, which is a dangerous thing to do, a breeding ground for exploitation, and all forms of predatory relations. True becoming, however, resists this temptation to forsake the inner well. We grow in relationship but only become an iteration of another’s thoughts, another’s way of being and moving in the world, if we stop listening to our own inner flow, a living water distinct to each, and which with passion wishes for nothing more than to well up in us with all the fullness of life.

There is no education, no books, blogs, or podcasts, no yogis, preachers, or teachers who can provide you with the deeply innate, intimate knowledge you and you alone already possess. Rilke said for our truest longings, and ultimate desires, there is really no one who can help, no one. We only have one recourse. We must go within. Otherwise, following in the footsteps of others, we will only see what someone else wants us to see, hear what someone else wants us to hear. Do not just follow the path, advised Emerson, make your own trail. And when you cross paths with another who is struggling, as we all are, do not be too quick to rush in with aid and answers, as tempting as it might be. Becoming requires disintegration. We need to fall apart, from time to time, our false beliefs and assumptions dismantled, as we learn to embrace the uncertainty of our journey, and the precariousness of life itself.

One of the most precious gifts we can offer another in the throes of becoming is space: space to unravel and question, to wander and wonder, to express and explore, without any manipulation on our part, no matter how well intended, to reframe, alter, or otherwise spin the brokenness of where this other stands. This is not easy to do. When another becomes vulnerable through tragedy, loss, or disillusionment, there is a tendency by those who bear witness to want to help and heal, fix and mend. But at first, this is not what the other needs, or is even ready to receive. Simple validation of another’s struggle does more for the weary of soul than a thousand aphorisms, adages, or happy words ever could. Pain longs first for acknowledgement, and resists any attempt at assimilation. Your story is not my story. My pain is not your pain. Your becoming is not another’s becoming. But to gently behold another’s becoming, without revision or judgment, only grace, is to affirm the dignity of that journey, as well as your own.


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