Anyone who has ever studied the question with any seriousness, apart from their own self-interest, can tell you: it is attachment that will kill you, and once you let go of those who prey on knowing this, they will stop killing you until it is time to die.
Meanwhile, there is work to do.
With practice, a body bent on living may eventually learn to avoid what makes them ill. The learning is hard and long, but when it comes it will be real and more lasting than any false promise could ever be, and suddenly you will know that you are finally repulsed by what you have been meaning not to care for.
That’s when you know the work of your atonement is done, she said, and you can be done with waiting in the name of humility, and you need not keep waiting for the next humiliation when the lesson takes.
Which is to say, I loved and lost, over and again. Who doesn’t, when a woman, bent on giving it all away? Still, there comes a time when it is clear as the first light of the sun: it is possible, in the end, to be giving and remain untaken, unfettered from the claims of those who would take all you have for their gain, especially when it is your whole life.
It is possible that the path to this understanding is the oldest story ever understood. Nevertheless, we keep needing to learn.
Here at last, live on stage! Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for in vain, the opening night of A Way of Being Free! And now, let me die by your satisfied mouths. I remove the breast while the director sleeps, and move on.
Inspired by certain projects I once believed in, and the learning that followed. And by Ben Okri.