Wise spiritual voices invite us to welcome the humiliation of the ego. It’s a steady drumbeat: real freedom comes when we release the commitment to power, to being right, to holding our life and our possibilities in our strong hands. Writer Jim Harrison knows this well: “I can maintain my sense of the sacredness of existence only by understanding my own limitations and losing my self-importance.”
However, we do not want to embrace our limitations. Our anxiety piques in those moments when we have no answers, no options, no clear path forward. Some of us exert vast energies resisting the reality that we really are destitute or spent or absolutely clueless. Others of us have yet to arrive at our helpless place, but there’s plenty of time. Sooner or later, life has a way of ridding us of our illusions.
There is no reason to bemoan all this. Our inevitable bewilderment provides a gift. Once we surrender the silly notion that we have God or marriage or parenting wrapped around our pinky…Once we get over ourselves…Once we laugh off the ridiculous idea that we’ve got the world by the tail – then we can get on with our true life, our true selves. We need no longer lug the weight of perfection. We can enjoy the carefree life that only the bumbling faithful are able to enjoy.
Wendell Berry said it right. “It may be when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”