Me: Erik, there are so many people who are struggling in so many ways. Some of us grieve over a loss, some of us have trouble with a relationship, raising kids, making ends meet, dealing with bosses or co-workers, and even figuring out why we’re here in the first place. My god, the list of possible hardships are endless. And yeah, I get the whole duality thing, but what can you say to keep us from tossing in the towel? Seriously, it sucks sometimes.
Erik: I know, Mom, but that’s part of what the human experience is all about. You know, it’s all an illusion, right? I mean, you’re projecting your whole life on a movie screen. Your body isn’t really you, and you’re really not entirely on earth. You’ve created your character to play a role, and you’re co-creating a reality to be the movie set. So, just pull yourself back out of that set and take a breather.
Me: Easier said than done.
Erik: Okay, remember those days when you go to class and find out, “yippee, we’re not gonna have a pop quiz; we’re gonna watch a movie instead!”?
Me: God, yes. I loved those little surprises.
Erik: Yeah, well, when the cowboys and Indians kill each other, do you feel like you wanna give up and die?
Erik: So, instead, if your character is on the screen playing one of the Indians or whoever, would you freak out when the cowboys come after you, knowing you’re really just sitting in your desk watching it unfold?
Me: No, I guess not.
Erik: You just have to remember what’s really going on from time to time. Oh, here’s another way to put it. We’re all gathering around a chessboard and moving pieces around.
Me: Okay, but I don’t know anything about chess, so bear that in mind.
Erik: Okay, um, so maybe you’re a pawn, maybe you’re a king, maybe you’re a bishop, but you’re real self is not. Your real self is the chess player using free will to move your piece from square to square, and you’re purpose is to learn when you fuck up and make a bad move and even learn when other people make a bad move. ‘Course you can learn from the good moves too, but—
Me: Not as powerful, huh?
Erik: Exactly. So when you’re feeling like crap about what’s happening in your life, try to visualize the bigger picture, and remember that the game will be over and everyone wins. Always. Then it starts all over again.
Me: If we pull back like that and look at every hardship as a silly game, though, then how can duality pack any punch?
Erik: Oh, don’t worry about that. Very few people can stick with that image of the chess game or the class movie. Most people go balls deep back into the game and suffer Heath Ledger style. The rook fucks with the pawns. The queen cheats on the king. The king chases the bishop into a corner and flogs him.
Me: Oh, a relationship villain?
Erik: Yeah, maybe, but that king is an ass cuz he keeps flogging that bishop, and the bishop doesn’t even try to fight back.
Erik suddenly laughs really hard.
Erik: Nevermind, Mom.
Erik: So the deal is, you’ll all eventually find joy in every bad move and checkmate. You’ll realize the wins are in the lessons, not in the number of pieces left on the board.
Me: Wow. Pretty deep, Sweetie. But remind me never to play a game of chess.
Erik (chuckling): Yeah, I sucked at the game, the human experience, but I had to play for a little while so I could sit beside the chess players and encourage them and guide them. That’s what a lot of us do as guides.
Me: And if we give up?
Erik: That’s like upending the board and letting the pieces scatter everywhere. Not only do you feel like a sore loser, you ruin the game for other people, too. Some of ‘em are people you’ve never met on earth, so the ripple effect of giving up is huge. You’ve messed up all their moves, past and present, and their blueprint for that life is sabotaged forever. They get sad; they get pissed. Not a good thing, in most cases.
Me: Okay, so I’ll try to pull back when things get to be too much, and I’ll visualize myself playing chess, knowing that what’s going on on that board is not really real.
Me: That the game will end, and we’ll all take off for the nearest bar and celebrate! Margaritas on the house!
Erik: And try to find the lesson in every moment of suffering. Embrace what you’ve learned, and you’ll find the joy that’s been there the whole fucking time.
Me: Okay. I’ll try my best.
Erik: It’ll be okay. I love you, Mom.
Me: Oh, how I love you, my darling boy.
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On a lighter note, Happy Birthday, Lukas! (He’s Erik’s younger brother.)