Marooned on the shiny surfaces of the banal

I’ve just started reading John O’Donohue’s book on Celtic spirituality ‘Anam Cara’ and this quote cut me to the heart:

‘…true vitality is hidden within longing. When you give in to creative passion, it will bring you to the ultimate thresholds of transfiguration and renewal. This growth causes pain but it is a sacred pain. It would be much more tragic to have cautiously avoided these depths and remained marooned on the shiny surfaces of the banal.’ (pg 45)

God save us from the shiny surfaces of the banal, from the mediocrity that leaches life from our being. There is always a voice to say ‘you can’t do that because…’ when confronted with the longing to live with extravagant and creative possibility. Maybe the voices of those around us worried about who we might offend or whether what we seek to do is really practical, or the probability of our plans failing miserably  (as if success or failure really mattered anyway) . Or it’s the voice of our own internal censor echoing these concerns, worried about what people might think of us if we really followed that first impulse of spontaneous, self giving love.

I remember standing on a Croatian cliff top near Dubrovnik. The deep clear waters shifted below and I hesitated for a very long time before stepping out and plummeting far far down through air and water. I was stunned at how long it took to fall and how deep I plunged. It was at once foolish and exhilarating, I felt fully alive.

So often, all our instincts and everyone around us, sensibly explain why we should stick with the shiny surfaces of the banal. But this year, every time I find myself on a cliff top, I’m going to jump.  


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