Let me begin with a question: what of the moment when the cocoon is no more? All is new, unknown for this form of life. It is a moment of dramatic tension as well as one of wonder. Life is crisp, clear, completely in focus; there is just so much of it to explore.
One life has ended and another begins.
I had never considered the falling away of the cocoon. In not doing so, I missed the ending of one way of life and thus, the beginning of the next. Life cycles and while a cocoon is only a stage, each stage must have its moment—from beginning to end–so that the next may emerge. No matter how many times the cycle repeats each stage is unique.
It is not easy to let go of a way of life, especially the nurturing stage of a cocoon. Yet, in order to experience life through another perspective, the cocoon must fall away for the new form to live.
Five years ago I retired, believing I would regain my health by modifying my life. From a Buddhist perspective, I stayed stuck in samsara (the cycle of suffering), trying to live a way I no longer am.
I did not know then what I know now. The cocoon has fallen away, and the way of life that is emerging is familiar but its form is unique. It is one of less movement and more being.
In Buddhism, one develops the practice of loving-kindness and compassion as well as joy and equanimity for all in all things. I like to think of these “four sublime states” developing in stages as my practice of them grows. Some days, there is no growth but always, there is practice.
No longer trying to live a way I no longer am, I open to life turning on a dime. In a moment, it will turn again. Never has impermanence seemed so full of possibility. Once again, chronic illness opens me to another perspective, another way to be. I am not lupus or any of the labels that I have accumulated over the decades for as the Buddha taught, there is “no fixed or unchanged self.”
However, there is a body and a mind that cycle through my lifetime. For over half of that life, my mind and body experience has included autoimmune disease. Now, in this new stage of life, my mind and body are adjusting to the consequences of living with decades of disease. There is a wearing away of the old as the new comes into being.
In order to discover all this new stage offers, I must be more mindful than I have ever been. That much is clear. More rest for the body, more tolerance for the thought chatter.
I am neither my body nor my mind but I am experiencing a lifetime through them. For me, the challenge is and has been to be. Perhaps it is for most, as change excludes no one and no thing.
Stage after stage, the cocoon falls away.