Woman with headphones on subway

Escapism. Most new age gurus say we’re experts in it. I can’t disagree. We’re distracted. Denatured. We’re overbooked. We tend to be disconnected from our divine nature, the food we eat, the stuff we buy, the eyes we look into — our own and others.

We buffer-numb out-avoid-distract ourselves with TV, caffeine, drugs, getting off, gossiping, complaining, and otherwise meaningless conversation, shopping (more aptly, “stuffing”), working working tweeting surfing work email work work -– all to avoid feeling particular things. This is what the Buddhists would call “The Principle of Death.” Keep it safe, keep it small. At all costs, avoid life.

The self-help book aisle is busting with the theory that what we’re running from is our demons. Sadness, grief, emptiness, loneliness. Pain.

Personally, I haven’t run from my pain. I compensated for it. I spent so much time accommodating it, “working with it”, paying attention to it –- NOT avoiding it, that I neglected my very agency and power: my joy. Unbridled, unabashedly sweet, essential joyousness.

I’m a recovering Metaphysical Overachiever. After I got done being a good Catholic girl, I moved on to being a Good New Age Girl. Subtly, I just swapped one gospel with the other. I just wanted to get it right, you know. I was up for facing demons. Bring them on — and the more analysis the better. Crusading all the way.

Continually staring down your demons can be an act of avoidance all its own. Recapitulating the reasons for your hurts, and isms, and faults can become addictive in and of itself. Eventually, you have to stop picking a fight with your true nature and decide to seek the joy that underlies it All.


I got caught up enough in going where the pain was (“brave”, “evolved”,) that I avoided going where the delight was. And here’s what I figured out, (later than I’d hoped, but just in time): I have not shied from pain, oh no. I have shied from ecstasy. Surprisingly, (thankfully!) ecstasy is quite patient. After all, she starts with a slow burn.

When I take the certain routes to awakeness, through the portals of breathing, laughter, stillness, spontaneity; when I exercise the courage to not fill up space with empty conversation, with the tube, with busyness, it’s not my pain that I most often meet in such presence — it’s my power.

When I override my senses, refuse to bend, when I check my email just one more time before I make time for me, when I eat even though I’m full, when I hold myself back from a bursting expression of “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” because I don’t want to be too much, it’s not my pain that I’m avoiding — it’s my very life force.

So which of these concepts would you rather investigate?: “avoiding your pain” or “avoiding your power” The cosmic twist is that both routes lead home.

But how you make the trip to enlightenment is up to you. Pack light.

danielle laporteDanielle LaPorte is the outspoken creator of The Desire Map, author of The Fire Starter Sessions (Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality”, and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter @daniellelaporte.

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