Struggle — Walking Up a Hill with a Refrigerator on My Back
How to let go of struggle and get on a road less traveled carrying a lighter load.
In Greek mythology Sisyphus (/ˈsɪsɪfəs/; Greek: Σίσυφος, Sísyphos) was a king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever.
I didn’t push a boulder up a hill, instead, I carried a refrigerator on my back - sometimes even when walking uphill. Most of us carry or push something in life. For me it came in the visual of a refrigerator. For some, it’s more about what’s in the refrigerator that’s the burden; for me it was about the make and size. There were times when the weight of the responsibilities I was carrying felt like a triple door commercial model, stainless steel with sharp edges that knew just when to give me a jab.
It never occurred to me, as I walked uphill with the weight of the world on my shoulders, that I could put the refrigerator down. That took decades of learning. Sometimes the refrigerator comes back for a while, but it’t usually not long before I recognize the pain and put it down. Most of the time now I carry a few ice cube trays for a bit…but even they turn to water in the sun…quenching my thirst. Somewhere in the span of 20 plus years, I learned that every struggle, big or small, comes bearing gifts, and the sooner I realized that and stopped resisting what is, the sooner the struggle stopped. That’s when I realized I always had the power to put the refrigerator down anytime I choose to.
One of the many gifts that came from my frustration with struggle, was this simple prayer to God, written more than 15 years ago and recited often for many years.
I release the struggle
I invite your Spirit to renew my life
Help me to love and be loved
and prosper in all good things.
Help me to be the light that I am
Help me to be all that I can be
So I may share my gifts and
abundance with others.
Of course now I know there are no others, for in truth we’re all one…which is why when we give to “others” we’re really giving to ourselves - which is also why giving and receiving are the same. But in the ego’s world of form there’s 7 billion of us and counting.
In the ego’s world there’s all these separate bodies and separate minds, and herein lies the problem…and the solution. The body, it turns out, is a particularly brilliant ego device to convince us that we are in fact separate. We can see separate bodies with our own eyes; we can touch them, smell them, and yes taste them too. Just as with anything physical, these senses alert and convince us that whatever can’t be detected with the senses doesn’t exist. Of course science, especially quantum physics, is beginning to prove - what mystics, philosophers, and sensitives of all kinds have always known -
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ~ William Shakespeare
The truth is…We are not our bodies! No one is. Most of us know this. We know we are much more than our bodies. We’re all connected to a Source we call by many names. We may know this but how many of us feel this Divine connection consistently? Every day, we may start out in meditation or in prayer of some kind intending to keep the connection we feel with Divinity with us throughout the day…but then life happens. And we don’t think about it again until we’re driving home, or on the train or bus, or just moments before we fall asleep, exhausted from life.
Yet it’s that connection to Source that vitalizes, inspires, and loves us. It’s that connection that reminds us, we are not our bodies; we are not separate; we share one holy mind. It’s that connection that showers us with miracles, directing our day, if we let it…but we forget. We forget, so I remind you as I remind myself.
I am not my body and neither are you.
Let’s take it a little further. It stands to reason that if we share one mind, then the body is in the mind rather than the mind in the body. Therefore there are not 7 billion separate bodies each with separate minds!
Most of us on a spiritual path want it both ways. We want to be connected to Spirit and keep our separate identity, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s not that we lose our identity if we align only with Spirit (at least not in any way that really matters) but that we recognize the truth of who we really are and allow Spirit to guide our lives completely as we express Spirit through our bodies in what we say and do.
The one mind, whether it’s aligned with the ego/body mind - and therefore part of a bad dream, or the Spirit Mind which is eternal and limitless, is always, in truth, only one mind. There’s no such thing as my ego and your ego. In fact that’s a perfect example of how the ego works. We are so identified with “our ego” that we need our own, individual, customized model and we monogram it with our name and promote it with the role we play. We brand ourselves. We can even monetize it! And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we use it to be helpful; to spread love and forgiveness.
The body is a vehicle and the Spirit needs our body to help change the world.
It’s so funny when you think about it. Certainly having a specific name is useful for practical reasons…but what the ego does with a name is epic. How many conflicts have arisen, how many wars have there been to defend the honor of a name; a family, a tribe; a country, a cause, or a religion. The list is as long as human history.
The struggle, tied to a name, to a body is everywhere. It’s all a reflection of the struggle in the mind. It is the mind that matters here. The body is a representation of the mind, an individual, unique expression, for better or worse of what exists in the mind. Yet each of us is so much more than our bodies. I think most of us know this. Yet breaking free of our identification with the body, with our own self-concept and the roles we play is like Sisyphus - doomed to rolling that boulder up the hill only to watch in frustration when it rolls down the hill once more.
The journey to where we are now has been to be conscious of the fact that we’re more than our bodies…ALL WAYS. Not just when we’re in yoga class or meditating, but when we have a stomach ache or our feet hurt or we get diagnosed with a disease. The sneezes, the cravings, the hunger, the refrigerator, is in our mind. All our struggles, our burdens are in our mind. That’s where we go to push away the boulder or put down the refrigerator. That’s where we go for the solution that we’re really not separate at all. We just look that way from the body’s eyes.
The solution leads to a road less traveled, where we arrive battle weary, defeated, carrying the pain, fears and struggles we just can’t live with anymore. We’ve carried them around as long as we can remember. We’ve given them a power that’s unfounded and it’s used to rule over us like a mad sociopath that imprisons us with his lies and empty promises. His real motives are always disguised - much like the black widow that lures it’s victims with a false image until it’s too late and she eats her prey. Eventually, this madman will kill us too. It happens to everyone…until it doesn’t.
We begin this journey heavily laden with our burdens but somehow they already feel a little lighter. Our guide is helping us carry the load, gently, lovingly coaxing us to put down a sack or two that He knows we don’t need. Maybe the first thing to go is something we don’t like anyway… like brussels sprouts. Who ever knew that brussels sprouts were that heavy. We thought they were good for us, we say. Everyone knows they’re good for us, right?
On this road you’ll learn that nothing is as it seems. If you read Alice in Wonderland as a kid, it’s like that. You’ll question reality like Alice did. You won’t be able to discern friend from foe at first. You’ll think you’re madder than a mad hatter…or you’ll meet one. You’ll try and reason with the Queen but she want’s off with your head regardless of what you say. It’s all quite meaningless but the best adventure you’ve ever been on. You wouldn’t trade it for the world, because at the end of this road, there is no world like the one you left.
Along the way we’ve littered this road with sacks and sacks of struggles that disappear as soon as we lay them down. The further we travel, the lighter the load, and the more effortless the climb. The higher we go, the clearer the view, the sweeter the air and the more brilliant the stars.
The further we travel the only things we still carry with us are the songs in our heart and a mind at peace who knows that whatever we need comes to us, as if by some divine magic that summoned it even before we knew we needed it. And burdens we used to carry are now a fading memory like the nightmare we had last night.
But here, at the beginning of this journey, we have our burdens still. But this road calls us like no other and so our heart is a little lighter and our steps skip a beat or two, strengthened by the loving companion beside us, this holy Spirit that knows the way. Sometimes we don’t see Him anywhere, but He always hears our call - however weak and filled with doubt it may be at the start of a journey into the unknown.
He tells us that on this road we’ll begin to see the scenery with new eyes as we listen to the lessons He teaches us. He tells us that we won’t always like what we hear and He’ll never force us to learn the ropes in this new terrain, but He strongly advises us to hear Him out before we say no.
He reminds us that our way always leads back to the road we left behind and all the pain and suffering that road brings. He reminds us there’s a better way and that we’re on it. He tells us we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do, but if we sincerely want to lighten our load, we have to allow Him to set a few things straight because we’ve got it all wrong. That’s why it hurts so much.
If we’re here…we’re ready to take the first step…and then the freezer drops off our back, the boulder is left behind as we start walking up the hill.