The Middle Ground

I wrote this poem almost exactly twenty years ago. I don’t remember when I last looked at it. But it popped into my mind tonight. Someone close to me is struggling right now; I dedicate this post to him.

The Middle Ground

Most of us spend time,
at times,
in the depths of despair;
are blessed with moments
of delight, ecstasy, joy;
but most of our time is spent
in the Middle Ground.
Past-life karma to be worked off;
current-life trauma to be healed;
childhood hurts and disappointments
to be understood and transcended.
We all know how it’s supposed to be:
the lover, the home, the career, the money –
Where fantasy and reality meet,
deep purpose can be found,
inner work can begin.

False fronts, two faces, if only we really knew
what others’ lives are like.
It’s one of the best things about therapy groups –
you get to see people with their masks off.
The Pursuit of Happiness brings such pain.

Finding a true prophet, a blessed being
with whom you resonate,
can be a lifelong search, and a worthwhile one.
The I Ching says, “It furthers one to see the Great Person.”
Your Great Person will be a mirror
reflecting your inner beauty.
There may be one, or many,
or only a feeling unattached to form.

We can imagine ourselves Perfect –
happy, at ease, without sadness or error;
we can imagine ourselves Sinners.
But can we stay in the Middle Ground?
Can we strive, succeed, rejoice,
fail, despair, recover,
strive again?
Can we accept the inner work as primary?
Can we find a way to live in the world,
imperfect as we are,
with thanks?

Noticing beauty increases it.
Accepting pain eases it.

We each have been given the gift
of life on Earth, the Middle Ground.
And here we stay,
until awareness and service,
serenity and gratitude,
lighten our being
and we fly away.

Layla Ananda