Life X 2

Journal entry 2013 … 

Pondering strength: the lungs and the legs to kick out into deep water, swimming back and forth across the bay. What it would take to remain calm in the face of a shark sighting might require more strength than I could muster – then again, maybe not. I often marvel at the reserves of strength humans harbor.

The perils of survival: how people make it through this life in the face of considerable adversity. After reading Hersey’s The Wall as a teenager and recoiling in horror at the extermination of Jews in Poland during Hitler’s reign of terror, I swore I couldn’t broach that topic again. And yet it’s like a wagon I’m bouncing along in, perpetually circling, trying to form a defensive barrier while wondering if what’s in the middle is worth protecting. I can’t shut my eyes to what’s true.

And so I find myself in a thrift store, grabbing Vikram Seth’s Two Lives, placing it in my basket. It is only later I delve into this memoir of the author’s beloved aunt and uncle – he, an east Indian dentist who lost his arm in WWII, she an Israelite who escaped before Berlin was systematically purged of its Jewish occupants, sweeping her mother, sister, and countless dear ones into horrific oblivion.The book starts out benignly enough, as do most of our lives – family, friends, parties, schooling – setting us up and onto unpredictable trajectories. We live, laugh, love and sometimes despair over trivialities. We are children, after all, until life turns on a dime and we transition into adulthood. How this might be versus the reality of how it goes down for many of us determines our character. And what we can share, if we survive, are our stories. For better or worse, experiences unfold, peeling back the protective veil, revealing the core of the collective. It is you. It is me. It is us: the human race.

How do we live with the knowledge of our very worst tendencies? To deny history dooms us to repeat it. Thoroughly unfathomable, until, bit by bit, it opens up before me …

 

8 comments on “Life X 2”

  1. There seems something intensely personal emanating from your beautifully crafted words Bela. Then again, you speak for all of us; we, each human animals imagining ourselves as somehow elevated creatures, soul-possessors and uniquely, perhaps even divinely, guided by forces that transcend the animal realm. And then we look back at our collective deeds, finding it difficult to reconcile them with what we imagine ourselves, as personal beings, to be. Who dare hold a mirror to their innermost, caliginous selves? It takes great courage; yet finding that, we may glean the possibility of redemption, perhaps a doorway to another way of being that closes the darkened past as a conditioning force once and for all. Each must do their own work, if only they would dare.

    Hariod ❤

    • Hariod, thank you. And yes, personal. I grew up in the 1950’s, three doors down from an Auschwitz survivor and her colonel husband and young son. Her hair was cropped short and carelessly, she was rail-thin and her sunken eyes had the frightened look of an animal about to bolt. She had a mysterious tattoo we whispered about. Kids made fun of this family: he in front with the son, driving. She in the back seat with their beloved German shepherd Wolfie (“Voolfie”). Always. The son sent to school in liederhosen. The bomb shelter in their backyard, as my own father dug a fallout shelter under our upper middle class home. Those were the days of my very young life.

      Your perceptions on the human Shadow are profound and eloquent. I always eagerly anticipate your words, for they pique my intellect and heart at the same time. In my opinion, those who dare to hold that mirror dare to confront the Self in all of its clever disguises, assuring, if nothing else, a familarity with the bardos upon physical death. If we refuse to own up to these aspects while on earth, what will happen when the instantaneous nature of thought projection transports us into worlds beyond imagining? The courage you speak of is little enough sacrifice, at least with the prescience I possess about such things. Which is ever open to further interpretation.

      Peace, Aloha, and many blessings. ❤

      • Thank you very much Bela, for your time and further precious insights. I have taken the opportunity of reading your piece for a third time upon my return. H ❤

    • Perhaps. For what else is there to do? Eyes once opened cannot look away again without further repercussions. And who wants to add to the pain and misery in this magnificent world? Aloha, BN.

  2. This sounds like an amazing book and real life story of survival and love. I am always happy to read about how people overcome adversities and challenges, but at the same time, saddened that they had to do this. We seem to move forward so slowly in our becoming human and civilized, Bela. Thanks for this testament of spirit story.

    • Robin, I agree that we are moving slowly, at least when seen through the lens of my idealistic generation. We made some striking steps forward, but at the same time many of us sold out and accelerated global crises of all kinds.
      It’s frustrating, but maybe we’ll only realize in hindsight, as is so often the case, that especially compared to 1000-100 years ago, we have come along as a species.
      Though I’m pretty sure there are certain human characteristics (Jung named them archetypes) that will ever be indigenous to our human nature. The Lover seems so desirable, whereas, at least to me, the Warrior does not. Yet somehow these contrasts exist here on earth, and I’m not sure we will ever outgrow them. Remains to be seen.
      Enjoy your Mothers Day! Aloha, Bela


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