Saturday, June 23, 2012

This Crafting Is

This crafting is part of the process of turning something into a work of art. I think many people today do not realize what it means to be an artist, instead of simply a person who is writing. I mean, there is a craft and an attitude and a willingness to recognize that, unless it is in form, it is not art.

- Joseph Campbell, Reflections on the Art of Living

* * *

This crafting, this honing, this turning, this living is a stripe without end. It never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends. It is before you, behind you: ancient and unborn. You, your thisness, your thingness, your nowness, are to be turned as on a lathe, brought to form, fashioned, hammered, fired, broken and remade. It is in being brought to form that your work becomes your art, your life a work of art.

Refusing to be honed, turned, crafted and worked into the shape, color, tenor, of your possibility is to deny the endless stripe, the endless river, the endless snake, the endless road. Forever outside. Forever hungry. Forever longing. Hell, they say is not a furnace, but the distance you stake yourself from the God you pray to.

This crafting of a life is a process you must submit to in order to discover the endless spark, ignition, fire of the god within you, that has always been part of you - just as it is there if you lift a rock or split a stick. Whether you decide to sacrifice your ease, your sorrows, your confusion, your shallow desires or not is immaterial. The stripe is without end. It never ends. No, it never ends. Only you do and the good you could have done for yourself, your beloveds, your time will have passed on: the omission undetectable.

The loss is yours and no one else's.

Change your life into the life within you and no other. A craft, an attitude, a willingness to engage the materials at hand, submission to the impulse to build, to create, to serve that craft, that attitude, that willingness: the holy fire that burns if you but let it. Get out of your head, get out of your way and take the facts of your life and work them, work with them, use them - they are your raw materials - and build from there. There is a lesson you must learn: you have all you need right now. Always have. Always will. It is a question, a function of accepting the reality you cannot change, and acting from the one you can: your thoughts, your words, your deeds.

And you will be changed.
You will be turned as on a lathe: chisel, clamp and edge.

Unless you are in form, in the form only you can occupy, then your life is wormfood only. But this crafting this honing this turning this living is just for you, a gift you give yourself on the way to your grave. The stripe is ancient and unborn. It never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends. This submission is you submitting to your soul, your body, your anger at it being so, your forgiveness for it being so. Change your life into this life, your life, your honed, hammered, fashioned, builded life.

Death is our common cause. Living must be earned. Tend the fire. Live by it.

All is well if the fire remains: freedom, responsibility - a lifted melody. And that, too, never ends. No, it never ends. It never ends.

* * *



Sunday, June 10, 2012

We Can Only

Abdulrahman Zeitoun/Josef K
We can only do the work, he tells Kathy, and his children, and his crew, his family, anyone he sees. So let us get up early and stay late, and brick by brick and block by block, let us get that work done. If he can picture it, it can be. This has been the pattern of his life: ludicrous dreams followed by hours and days and years of work and then a reality surpassing his wildest hopes and expectations.
   And so why should this be any different?

- Dave Eggers, Zeitoun

* * *

What is the pattern of your life, my friend?

I was talking with my brother the other day and told him I had discovered, at this late date, that my one true ability, my one preternatural gift is the ability to endure, to withstand, to be the last man standing. But that begs this question: to what end? Of what use is this ability unless it is applied to some cause, something other than merely remaining?

What use, indeed.

* * *

For must fucked folk it is easiest to dream, to imagine, to fantasize about how life could be if only... The ludicrous dream is second nature to them, but it is something less than half the equation, no? Unless that dream is wrestled into existence through doing the tedious, day in day out work of applying one's self to that dream, to bringing something into existence that had not been there before, it is better for you not to dream at all. Better to eat, drink, fuck, sleep and die. You will be happier, and then you will be gone.

If you are going to indulge in dreaming you must be willing to work - everyday - on all things.

Brian Eno says beautiful things come out of shit, out of nothing, out of unpromising beginnings and if people could just fully understand that they could live a different kind of life - one made more confident because nothing arrives fully formed. All things are tended, given room and attention and effort. To want beauty is meaningless. To work for it is the source of all beauty. This strikes me as the most wonderful thing I have ever heard.

Your life awaits your effort and will return to you the effort you put in. In spades.

* * *

Work is confused with labor. Your labor is what you are paid for. Your work is who you are. Getting the two to line up must be pretty sweet, but is not essential. What matters is that you do your work everyday. Take the nothing, the shit, the not very promising beginning and work with it everyday and transform it into something else, something new, something that needs to be given away, given to others so they might have more confidence in their lives. This pattern of something from nothing is the core of our existence, is our natural pattern: from a twinkle in your father's eye to a being and then back into the dirt of the cosmos we come from nothing very much and acquire life, purpose, meaning along the way to our graves and in our graves release back to those who knew us the confidence to try again to build something out of nothing.

We are magicians, conjurers, charlatans, true gods of sound and rhyme. Our lives are rhythms of creation. This is the pattern. This is the life we are to live: creating that which had not been before, but could only be because of our hand.

But fucked fuckers everywhere only get so far as the dream. Buddhists call these folk hungry ghosts. They are the zombie apocalypse: they endure, but are dead to the reasons they might live. The only reason there is to live is to build brick by brick the life you would have. There is no success to point to, no end point where you can retire. You can leave your labor, but your work is inside you. You fuck yourself when you try to run from it, when you place it behind your labor, when you dream only.

* * *

I have endured only to tell you this: when you are there, facing the silence of a blank page (whatever your page may be), and you plunge, fall, step, dive into that blankness and emerge with something, something did not exist just a moment before... well, happiness and suffering recede as categories and you are electric and alive - part of a pattern that stretches back beyond time. The price of admission is the doing, not the dreaming.

* * *



Saturday, June 2, 2012

So You Know

via lactea
So you know how things stand. Now forget what they think of you. Be satisfied if you can live the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands. Focus on that, and don't let anything distract you.

- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book 8

* * *

Here is what is: there are no answers; there's just settling in with the mystery. That's as good as it gets. Don't let me or anyone else tell you different.

Can you stand before the mystery of consciousness and say you understand it? Can you stand on this wee island in God's Infinite Sea and say you know anything? Can you wake up and truly believe that money, status, material accumulation is a viable substitute for ignoring the mystery of your existence? Can you? 

I hope not.

There is always some huckster with an answer. Some carry Bibles, others carry slide rules, still others push dope of one kind or another (politics, religion, tribalism of one stripe or another) that promises answers to the unanswerable.

Ignore them. Get all Amish on their ass and shun them. They are a distraction from just standing in front of the mystery like standing on a hilltop on a windy day: no questions, no doubts, no answers - but alive, complete, no part left out


* * *

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

You're just another line in the field of time. Me, too, and yet we busy ourselves with things that are handed to us by others instead of fashioning our own way of living 'til we die. We accept the stories of the various tribes we belong to because in doing so we are accepted, it makes us a club member, we are initiates and we receive in return an identity formed out of the same mold used for generations. It works, though, doesn't it? We are not known by who we are but by what we do for money, the part of the nation we come from, the amount of money our parents had, the schools we attended, the god we pray is there. 

But what if you chose instead of accepting? what if you lived the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands? on a hilltop, no part left out?

Dude, you can.
Dude, you must.

The mystery of human consciousness, it's purpose, it's meaning, it's potential is the heartroot deep of your days. It has always been so. It will always be so. The brothers and sisters who builded themselves altars to worship the cave bear in Chauvet, who painted their world on the walls of those caves are the same as you, except you have technology and a longer lifespan, and they had the willingness to stand in front of the mystery and be part of it.

* * *

I cannot believe in religion. I refuse it. Each takes a stab at ordering life and creates bureaucracies of belief instead. I cannot believe in politics. I refuse it. Every movement is corrupted with the first adherent and reduces itself to tribalism. Instead, I have come to believe only in me, just Yoko and me. 

Like you, I am a fucked fucker from way back. I am a deeply flawed man. All that I used to know has proved meaningless in the shitstorm I've kicked up as I've made my way to this windy hill. It's not that the words and deeds were without merit, just that the ends I was aiming for proved to be mirages. The more concrete something is, the more likely it is simply ossified thought, a long forgotten temporary solution that outlived its moment and became institutionalized - like marriage, like banking, like a glow-in-the-dark dashboard Jesus.

What is your nature unencumbered by others' expectations?

Do that. 
Be that. 
Enjoy that. 
Anyone who doesn't get it can fuck themselves. 

And here is what is: the vast majority of the people walking this earth are oblivious, or in so much pain they can't see or trust the mystery. They want answers and the only answers we, as a species, have been able to come up with wind up reducing the math, in one way or another, to us versus them. It is the very thing that fucks us, keeps us stuck until we take on the responsibility to chose to stand in front of and be part of the unfathomable and unlikely mystery of life on this whore of an island in God's Sea.

Find the wind. 
Let nothing distract you. 
Enjoy your makings, for who shall bring you to see what comes after?
Your portion is now. 

* * *