peaks and valleys

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the so-called peak experience is perhaps the most sought after human experience this side of simply staying alive. we spend countless hours and dollars cultivating them, through sex, drugs, art, social engagements, ‘self improvement,’ ‘spirituality,’ etc. they provide the high water marks in our lives, renewing our sense of wonder and gratitude, reminding us of the eternal ‘yes’ to existence underlying our daily grunts and grumbles about the veil of sorrow that too often enshrouds us. they are, in the true sense of the word, awesome.

there is, however, one problem with this incessant quest: the peak experience, once over, rarely effects any permanent transformation; it quickly recedes into a memory as distant as the event was alien to our day to day reality. those who would try to cling to these experiences are forced to cling to a ghost, condemned to wonder how they ended up back in the same valley, why things are always the same, no matter how hard they try……………..

let me be clear: i have nothing against peak experiences; i seek them with focus and determination, fondly and with appreciation. but the fact remains: they do not significantly alter the base line, the valley, from which they temporarily lift me. and no, it does not appear that life can be made into one continuous peak experience, alas. trust me, i’ve tried. and anyway, if it were a constant peak, it would no longer be a peak, by definition—just another valley with nothing to compare it to.

so back down in the valley, beneath the cloud, enters the Work—techniques that alter the baseline, permanently. that’s what we’re after with undoing—scraping away all the gunk that makes you shudder when you return to reality after riding the peak. this is real change, and that’s why it can be scary for some: there’s no coming back down. in fact, there’s no going up, either, because your very x and y axes are melting down and mutating. there’s nothing to compare where you are now to where you were then. you’re just…somewhere else.

so where does that leave us? i say, seek the peak experience. it’s a big part of what makes human life beautiful. just don’t be surprised when you drift down, once more, to the same valley floor, and if, when you look around with those fresh eyes, freshly remembering what you just saw, and you don’t like what you see, well……………………


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