Friday, March 27, 2009

Waifs & Return to Paradise

I spent the last two days with my friend Cathy. She's from California, somewhere in Silicon Valley. She's forty-nine. I met her when she was twenty-0ne. I mentioned to her that she was a waif when I first met her. We looked it up on Google.

Waif (from the old French guaif: stray beast) refers to a living creature removed by hardship, loss or other helpless circumstances from his or her original surroundings. Cathy agreed: she was a waif. Now she is a powerful women. She has done a lot of work on herself and it's paid off.

I was thinking, though, about this idea of waifs. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as others who express it slightly differently, the first humans were born into a paradisaical setting, a Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect, no problems, no unmet desires, no longing or restlessness, just peace and contentment. Then, because of some transgression, we were cast out
of our paradise and thrust into this world that we now live. From this point of view we are all waifs trying to return to where we originally came, a place where we can live happily ever after.

If you are honest with yourself you might begin to recognize that, although life is not terrible, and is often wonderful, there is great room for improvement.

I went to a workshop once with Harville Hendricks who said that most of us see life as a constant struggle, interrupted by moments of happiness and fun. He believed it could be the opposite: constant happiness and fun interrupted by moments of struggle. Is it possible that it could be even better than than the Garden of Eden? There is some truth behind all fairy tales and there is a lot we don't understand. Who really knows what is possible?

What is true for sure though, is that our existing situation is problematic and can be improved. It will not be improved unless there is significant change. We are trying to hold on to our old ways and our old habits, hoping that the stock market will go up, that our jobs will be more secure, that our health will improve, that our relationships will flourish. But perhaps we should embrace the crumbling of the old, so that we might create the possibility of the new, and better. This may seem a little risky, but in my mind, we have very little to lose.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe our perspective is distorted and its not to "embrace the crumbling of the old so that we create the possibility of something new and better" butlook at the old with a different "set of eyes" to see how good it really is.

    When I remember (which is difficult to do because of on-setting old-timers)to read your blog, I enjoy what you have to say.

    Your Friend in Confusion, Steven