Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Lives Come

"Our lives come free; they're on the house, like the shopkeeper's wine. God decants the universe of time in a stream, and our best hope is, by our own awareness, to step into the stream and serve, empty as flumes, to keep it moving."

- Annie Dillard, For The Time Being

* * *

Heraclitus tells us we can't step into the same river twice - other waters are always flowing. I think it is more basic than that: the only river is the life you are living.

Buddhists teach us to enter the stream; Van Morrison sings of the River of Time; Hermann Hesse uses the image of a river to undo time; and Heraclitus warns us away from thinking anything is ever the same; everywhere around us is the metaphor of the river in order for us to gain a foothold on the nature of being. Mostly we nod in gentle agreement and think it apt if we think at all. Mostly though, it is too big, too deep, too wide for us to bother with these eternal rivers. Fuck it, I'm watching the game.

It seems the whole of wisdom to know that we are here to keep things moving. If your life is fucked, as mine has been, as it currently is, then you are gumming up the works for everyone else as well. The fucked life is a stuck life. It is stagnant and like anything that stagnates it rots, the stink of decay hangs in still air over the surface and good people shun it.

There is always something you can do. The river is always ready for you. It is you who must enter the stream of your life. You must act - no matter how difficult, no matter how futile - YOU MUST ACT. It is how the river keeps moving.

A friend said, "I'm here for a good time, not a long time."

Get off your ass and move.

* * *

A hundred years ago I saw this clip and fell quite in love with Mary Margaret O'Hara, and this song in particular. It has stayed with me for any number of reasons, but chief among them are the lines:

There is but one life
and one life won't do

You must undertake the one challenge each of us is given: find out how to live out the fullness of your name and then do nothing else except live that life.

We busy ourselves with immaterial things because it keeps our fears at bay and it is easier to fit in than figure it out, but that is the Wasteland. You are going to have to lose the old fears and enter the stream.

Anything less and you have wasted the only finite thing in this universe: your time.

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