A friend of mine once said to me that she had now started to ask herself questions — ”Just like you, Lars.” — and this was soon after she had lost her mother, her only parent, in a car accident in front of her very eyes. That sudden death had pushed her to experience something far beyond the assumptions she had about life and it had now changed how she perceived things. Questions of ”why” had started to arise in her.
”Why love anything if it can be taken away instantaneously and without foreboding?” The question could not have been asked prior to the accident, since she had not experienced the limits of her beliefs before. At the time of speaking to me she had yet to celebrate her twentyfifth birthday. Shortly thereafter her boyfriend died young in unexpected cancer. I met her sometimes and she always asked me: why?
In the early morning she would lie in bed and stare at the roof. ”Why get out of bed?” she asked herself. ”Well, I have work to do obviously. But why even go to work? Because I need to earn a living. Do I really? Yes, I want a roof over my head and food on the table and I don’t want to suffer. Why not suffer? Because it’s painful. Why avoid pain? Because I fear it.” Every morning these thoughts rumbled in her mind and every morning she realized the same thing — that most of her actions in life came out of the avoidance of pain and that realization made her feel like a lackey to fear and she didn’t like it at all. She wanted freedom, but she didn’t clearly know what that was, so she started to look at others. She wanted to see if they were content and if so: how had they become it?
She was invited by a friend to a meeting of the Jehovas Witnesses and the people there seemed very content and they shared love amongst one another. They all had in common a strong conviction and they spoke about a universal law and that everything had a reason and a solution. Her friend asked her if she wanted to come another time, but she wasn’t sure, she couldn’t make up her mind about the thing. Another friend invited her to a Yoga studio where they spoke of release and expansion. She could see that the people that exercised Yoga seemed both vital and relaxed and they often spoke with sparkling eyes and intelligent words. They said that awareness, balance and tranquility were more important than everything else and that was their universal law. Then she started to go to a therapist and he told her that if she would just accept her thoughts she would become happy. That was his universal law. For all she could see she never met anyone that followed no law.
Whether these people thought to have found a path to love or freedom or abundance or whatever else, they all believed that their personal experiences were for everyone to learn from, universally applicable to everyone. She had a two-fold feeling about that: Partly being disgusted by the obvious ignorance in the people that spoke like that, but she was also partly envious that they had accepted their limited belief to be a truth, it seemed to make them content on some level. She also noticed that there was something hidden in their words, she sensed a lingering fear there, an unwillingness to find out about something that seemed very apparent to her — that they were all lackeys, just like her, and that there is no universal law.
Even though that it was very clear that no law was to be found she still didn’t want to accept it and instead continued her search for something else. She turned her back on the spiritually inclined people, whether they be Witnesses, Yogis or followers of science and searched for answers in a more mundane life. Living in a big city served her with many avenues to explore and they often came in the disguise of promising pleasures — like dating apps! She had several dating apps on her smartphone and whenever there was free time she would spend it by liking or disliking the world of men. It was an excellent pastime as it would always preoccupy her otherwise (now a bit bothering) inquisitive thoughts. Once in a while she would meet a man, have sex with him, fall in love for a while, then feel unsatisfied and start all over again. It held on for a couple of months until she realized what she doing: She was searching for freedom in pleasure, but not even there was it to be found.
She became a sort-of-a-nun after that, but a nun of no specific religion. Having the right diet was on the list of commandments. As she investigated the different schools of food, whether it be raw food, veganism or even meat-heavy Stone Age diets, she always spoke convincingly to her friends about whatever diet she was on at that particular moment in time and how it would purify her, being half-aware that she spoke as if she thought to have found a universal law. She didn’t care much, it was liberating to speak like that. She noticed one day that she felt very lonely and she called one of her old friends to inquire about that feeling and was told: ”You are not nice to hang out with anymore, always thinking you know so much, I rather hang out with people that give me energy.”
At this point she was about thirty years old and I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of years but she had decided to call me. I remember clearly that dialogue on the phone, it was felt intensely in my whole body. She spoke openly about her experiences from those recent years and finally said: ”Whatever I do, I just can’t get rid of the pain.” She started to sob and I felt her desperation as if I shared it equally with her. We cried together and I thanked her for helping me to feel more. Even though being miles apart we embraced each other and an inexplicable love and understanding washed through my body. Then we hung up. That was four years ago and I haven’t heard from her since.