I have just been talking to a friend who is a Saint. We were talking about liberation. It sounds ominous, I know, but it was a light conversation, and I realised that one of the most liberating moments I have had was when I learned to ride a camel and spent three days rinding across the Thar Desert. Total liberation, galloping over the dunes, pushing into the sunset, feeling like the heroine of a crazy victorian novel.
But upon bringing it back into my 21st century life, it was liberation. I had done something brave and fearless. I had gone beyond my limits. This is liberation. With liberation, self esteem walks alongside. The more you can shrug off the fence that you, your family and your history have wrapped around you, the more you become your true and deepest self. There is a point to be made here, and that is that if it is done with anger then it is not liberation. If it is a rebellion, then again, there is no freedom. You have just exchanged one fence for another. There needs to be a lightness, a light from inside that can radiate out into the world that helps you to feel more connected to your soul and the souls of those around you. That is true liberation.
Another liberating experience was to sit on the road next to a woman who had been hit by a cement truck. Horrid and awful. There was no ambulance, no police, just a dazed driver and her. We were passing in the car an instant after it had happened. I covered her with blanket and sat beside her, praying, as life flowed out onto the tarmac. I could not have thought of anything more hideous to be doing, but it was such an exquisite gift, to be present with her at that moment. Everything dissappeared. All the cars, the voyeurs. All focussed into the absolute moment of being there with her. She died and I went back to the car in a state that I cannot adequately describe, but from this came liberation. I had seen death. Not for the first time, and of course not my own, but I had waited and watched it’s presence. A few months later, again on the street, with a man this time, I could be there, really present with no fear and no shock. I had been liberated.
But then, thinking I was over my fear of death, my husband’s illness showed me I had not even scratched the surface. I plumbed new depths of fear.
Thinking I was again liberated I was on a plane to India when we hit turbulance. It was terrifying. I sat there shaking with fear. My legs like jelly, and I realised that liberation is not a destination. It is a constant state of opening. The thousand petaled lotus is a perfect example of it. Layer after layer after layer of beautiful petals open up to the light. This is what we are doing, or trying to do, or hoping to do, or just standing in puzzled fear watching others doing.