"Illusion and Reality"

The following is an excerpt from my favourite book by Henri Nouwen. This is one of my favourite sections because I find it so true. Besides, it reminds me when I get bogged down by heavy-heartedness that I am ultimately the root of my sorrow and fear.

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The greatest obstacle to our entering into that profound dimension of life, where our prayer takes place, is our all-pervasive illusion of immortality. At first it seems unlikely or simply untrue that we have such an illusion, since on many levels we are quite aware of our mortality… Although we keep telling each other and ourselves that we will not live forever and that we are going to die soon, our daily actions, thoughts and concerns keep revealing to us how hard it is to fully accept the reality of our own statements.

Small, seemingly innocent events keep telling us how easily we eternalize ourselves and our world. It takes only a hostile word to make us feel sad and lonely. It takes only a rejecting gesture to plunge us into self-complaint. It takes only a substantial failure in our work to lead us into a self-destructive depression. Although we have learned from parents, teachers, friends, and many books, sacred as well as profane, that we are worth more than what the world makes of us, we keep giving an eternal value to the things we own, the people we know, the plans we have, and the successes we “collect.” Indeed, it takes only a small disruption to lay our illusion of immortality bare and to reveal how much we have become victimized by our surrounding world suggesting to us that we are “in control.”

Aren’t the many feelings of sadness, heaviness of heart, and even dark despair often intimately connected with the exaggerated seriousness with which we have clothed the people we know, the ideas to which we are exposed, and the events we are part of? This lack of distance, which excludes the humour in life, can create a suffocating depression which prevents us from lifting our heads above the horizon of our own limited existence.

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Sidenote:

Zibin’s in T.O.! He bought his new (well, not so new) Chevrolet Cavalier yesterday. No prizes for guessing what colour the car is. (The colour is a coincidence lah.)

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