Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Remember Buying

I remember buying a little Indian sort of chest of drawers once. And I was so intrigued by it, the color of it, and I thought, this, if I let it be, could be the beginning of a new life for me. If I followed the message of this little set of drawers and built everything else around that, that would be a different life.

- Brian Eno, Here Is What Is

* * *

There is a moment, maybe dozens of them in a lifetime, maybe just one, where you have to decide to organize your life around something, anything, even a little Indian sort of chest of drawers, in order to ground your life, to give it a place to depart from. These somethings can change, sometimes they stay for the length of your days, sometimes you change them like shoes when they wear out. You can layer them, move between them, but always there is the primacy of one, one thing, one somemotherfuckingthing and your life opens by the fact you have chosen, by the fact you have imposed an order on the chaos of your days, by saying, "This chest of drawers, this child, this love, this eight and a half by eleven inch sheet of paper, this light, this work, this image, this story, this bowler hat, this box of ammunition, this pen knife, this cuff link, this song, this house, this memory, this business card, this phone book, this wooden mallet, this coffee cup, this chair, this stone, this drum, this boat, this dream, this dream, this dream, this beauty, this horror, this will to impose order on the chaos of my days is the doorway to a different life - mine."

Choose. It is the first step.
Live by it until you know you are ready for the next thing, and then choose again.

* * *

You'll know your life is running under its own power when you use your power to choose and choose from the deepest well inside you. Choose and live. Thomas Merton in The Sign of Jonas writes of the monastic ordering: prayer and work, ora et labora.  I appropriate his construction and christen it eligere et vivere, choose and live.

But unless you have chosen, unless you have already tasted the freedom of being bound by your choices, you do not believe it, you do not believe you can do it, you do not believe it is possible. You doubt your ability to choose from the multitude of possibilities in front of you. The critic in your head reminds you of the guitar lessons you gave up on, the marriage that dissolved, the jobs you've changed with the seasons. Listen to me: choosing is easy, committing to the choice is how you unfuck your life. And there's this as well: you can walk into a flea market and find a little Indian sort of chest of drawers, be intrigued by the color of it, the message it has for you, and choose a different life. The key is to organize your life around that choice: each time. In time, over time, you'll find that thing that is you and then, then, then, then, then, then the residual of your hard work will appear to be luck to others who have not chosen anything, and because you surrendered to your choice your life will bloom in ways you cannot imagine. 


The more I write the more I want to write.
The more I want to write the more I write.

Rinse and repeat.

I want to be good at words.
I want to be good at being a father.
I want to be good at being a friend, a lover.
I want to be that man who could be that man.

Such are the drawers in my little Indian sort of chest of drawers, but the one that informs the others, makes the others possible, is the principle I have organized my life around is this: I want to be good at being a father.

Right now, tell me yours.

* * *

Serendipity is the heart open wide, is seeing what is there for you: everywhere. But don't think for a minute it's that "secret" bullshit. It is not you who manifests the stuff of your life, but Life who manifests just such a you as who can see a little Indian sort of chest of drawers in each place the eye falls: all the way down and all the way back.

* * *

Oh, where will I be when that trumpet sounds?
If I choose and live it won't matter at all.

* * *



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