Monday, October 22, 2012
Thank you all for a very interesting and insightful weekend of thoughts. It is wonderful to be greeted by such a lively and earnest conversation.
When I wondered aloud about the unbelievability of Innermost House and invited you to wonder with me, I had a feeling in the back of my mind. I have observed how near some of you are to entering the experiment of the Innermost Life, and I am aware how little help I can be.
I am speaking and writing at all now because I wish to be of some use to those who feel a little of the frustration and lostness I have felt. But I am not an expert in anything. I have only the example of Innermost House to offer.
And an example is no help to anyone if it is unbelievable. My experience of giving talks has taught me that Innermost House is always a little unbelievable to some people. I have a feeling that if I could just understand the nature of the unbelievability, it might unlock some key to making use of my experience.
I know what it is like to be crippled by disbelief. I have never been able to believe in the world, and it has prevented me from taking the first step toward gaining a place in it. But I more than believe in the Innermost Life. I live it. It is me.
Every one of your comments is helpful to me, every one an insight. I want to begin at the beginning and, through the course of the week, address you each in turn as best I can.
Ember you begin with a suggestion I have encountered before in the form of a certain doubt that anyone could live as we do all the time without getting restless or tired of each other. Pam you frankly confess you would find such a life pretty stressful! This is a perfect beginning.
I have my own confession to make. In thirty years I have never been bored in my husband's company for five minutes. In the company of others I sometimes become so restless I could cry. But not when my husband and I are alone. That did not come with Innermost House, but has been the character of our relationship always.
Now, even I know that is very unusual, not because it feels unusual—it feels perfectly normal to me—but because so many people have remarked over so many years that we are really like two halves of one whole person. Even strangers remark on it.
If it helps to know this, I never felt at peace with the otherness of anyone in my life before I met Michael. I had accepted that it would never happen by then. Otherness was the problem, and it was everywhere. I was so alone for so long that when Michael came into my life I hardly struggled to maintain my "self" in our relationship, and for his part he never gave me occasion to. Almost immediately I became "us" and could at last relax into unity.
The idea of "being my own person" makes no sense to my feelings at all. To be my own person would first mean to become a person, which for me would ruin everything. I don't like being a person. If either my husband or I were to become our own separate persons we would not have the marriage we have always had. We are "our own person."
I never thought of it quite this way before. Pam you speak of reading and writing and walking in the woods as things you would choose to do alone. These are the very things we do alone together. When we read aloud it is much more like one person reading to themselves than like two people reading separately in one room. When we write it is the same. And we never take a walk except together. Always arm in arm or hand in hand.
I know that many of you are serious thinkers and meditators. But the beating heart of our relationship is our married Conversation, and that is much more like a solitary contemplative person thinking or meditating inwardly than it is like any two people conversing that I know.
So you make me realize that it is misleading to speak of my husband and me as a couple. We are unbelievable as a couple because we are not a couple. I wouldn't believe it myself.
It is much more true and I think also more useful just to pass over my unavoidable mention of my husband from time to time as a peculiarity of speech. Think of us together as yourself alone and make what you will of us. Of me I mean, I suppose.
As for boredom, Ember you very rightly understand what I have heard many times. Once years ago a young mother, weary for a moment of her too-numerous and inexhaustible children, said she would like to live as I do, only..."What do you do all day?" I answered her as best I could. She paused for a long moment, then said, "I think I'll have another baby!"
Pam you speak of a period of adjustment. I think that is a key. I have never found the Innermost Life boring or uncomfortable, but then I'm stuck on the other side of the line. If I may say so, it is much, much more interesting in fact than it is in prospect, for a day or for a year.
I do not mean to say that a little time might not be required. I only mean that once you are there, once you have grown accustomed to the woodland sounds and low light and timeless time, it is endlessly interesting.
If there is anything at all to share in this, I think it is not the hope of getting along with each other, but the prospect of getting along with ourselves. That to me is where the Conversation really begins—within ourselves alone. And the solitary Conversation of inward thought is why I am never bored and never tired all day and night at Innermost House.