Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Can Have

You can have what's left
Of this ragged frame
You can have what's left 
Of this used up chain

I'm not fighting any more
Gonna let all go
The melting of a man
Like the sun on the snow

- Daniel Lanois, Not Fighting Anymore

* * *

Here's the news: you're fucked because you don't know who you are, what you believe in or what to do with the one chance you get to live.

There, I said it.

But if you're fucked you already know that, right? You know it down in the marrow of your bones. You know it when you look in the mirror in the morning and see a shell instead of a soul. You know it because things don't work out. You know it because love spills through your hands and leaves you a wreck of close but no cigar. You know it in those hours you can't sleep. You know, my dear fucked friend, you know, but you won't live by it. It is easier to be unhappy than to risk the change required of all who need to wake up: letting go of the ego that brought you to your knees.

There, I said it.

Let it go, pal. It's killing you.

* * *

There's a saying, possibly belonging to the Zen tradition. It reads: Let go or be dragged.

That's how it feels, no? Dragged along behind the currents you cannot see: expectation, ego and their source - fear. It is a raw, unending misery of always coming up short, of not being able to figure out the puzzle. Let me help you here: you're looking in the wrong direction. It is not outside of you, but inside that all of your questions are answered. What you have to let go of is not love or desire or engagement with this world, but the cowardice of using your ego to justify your shabby life.

Trust me when I tell you I know from ego and shabby and coming up short.

It is a Promethean gutting with none of the heroics, just the pain.

You keep looking outside for how to live - the right job, the right partner, the right house, the right vote, the right God - and I am telling you all of that is meaningless. Worse, it stokes the falsity of the ego that looks outside for answers and clues and meaning. There's never a moment's quiet for you to listen to the sea inside you and each day just fucks you a bit harder and pushes you further away from knowing who you are.

Who are you?
What do you believe in (without a bible to tell you so)?
Where are you bound?
Can you hear it calling you?

* * *

And then there's this:

I'm not fighting any less
I see the sea
Feel it in the chest
Heard something in the breeze

Now I know where I'm bound 
Some kind of ecstasy
That faraway lonesome sound
Picture you so pretty

Now I know what I'm for
When my sweetness is there
Crack of light in the door
Leaves nothing to compare

Listen, you have to find your way to the place where there's nothing left to compare. You have to give up the lie that your ego tells you about success. There is only one goal, one ambition in this life and that is to be who you are - unfettered by externals, free of falsity, complete. Walk away from what's leeching your soul. Go small. Go for mastery. Go in love. Forgive yourself for not getting to it sooner. Forgive those who never will.

The fight he's singing about is between society's willingness to use you up, fill your head with its collective expectations and norms and your willingness to let it happen. But how to know if what you find inside is true and not just another trick? You'll know it when your sweetness is there.

* * *

You can have what's left 
Of this ragged frame
You can have what's left
Of this pain.

* * *



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Trouble With

The trouble with all of these damned preachers is the error of the found truth. When they get that tremolo in the voice and tell you what God has said, you know you’ve got a faker. When people think that they, or their guru, have The Truth—'This is It!'—they are what Nietzsche calls 'epileptics of the concept': people who have gotten an idea that’s driven them crazy.
 - Joseph Campbell
* * *
Here's the thing: ignore everything you read: dismiss it, throw it out, shut the door on it. Anytime anyone tells you something ignore it. It is poison to you. Read any book, listen to any lecture, watch any movie - spew it from your mouth. Why? Because you have to test it, challenge it, see if it is worthy of your time and energy. Throw it out and see if it has the balls to come back. See if it insists on your attention, if it bothers you, unsettles you, challenges you. Make any idea earn its place in your life. You are the sole arbiter of what you think, say and do.
Why take anyone else's word on it?
* * *
The risk with searching is that what you'll find isn't for you. It is easy to take some other authority's word on it, but damn, how do they know who you are? Prophets and preachers succeed because people let them do the thinking for them. Resist this impulse. Listen. Listen closely for some echo of the knowledge you already have - your innate history of being human, the collective unconscious, the well of your own desires - and before you make room for an idea have it earn its place by getting rid of it. Play hard to get. You sure as shit don't want to live your life as a rehash of what's come before. Worse still you don't want to become animated by another's promise of the Truth. It ruins your soul because each soul, every conscious mind, all life points to something other than itself and yet is itself part of that other. We have given this idea many names over the eons, but Religion and Knowldege are the broad categories. And there is cool shit in there, just don't take it at face value.
If you will lived unfucked and free, if you will stomp the earth as you make your way to your dust, then you will have to decide on what is best kept and what is best tossed out. It is so much easier for a God or a priest or a guru or a thinker or a leader to suss it all out and tell you how it is. But if you drink from that cup, you'll never know what you could have made with your time. You will never even have the thought it could have been any other way. Here's your gold watch. Thank you for your years of service, now shuffle off and enjoy your apartment at Del Webb.
Fuck that.
To be clear: you may choose to devote your life to your God; you may choose to write or paint or somehow leave a trail of breadcrumbs for those who might stumble across your path; you may be a priest or a guru, but you have to come to it through your own volition and not as a scoop of pap shoveled in your mouth.
Throw it all out. See what comes back. Throw it out again. Make sure the things that color your life are worthy of the enterprise. You are completely unique. If you don't live up to the possibilities of your name, no one will and the world will not have noticed you ever drew breath. To stay fucked because you've been put in a trick bag of guilt and expectation is to waste the only thing you have to give: your life.
You and I, we fucked and stuck shitheads of worry and doubt, are here to live before we die. We are here to sort it out and make our own way. We are here to find deep pockets of love and empathy for those struggling to find their feet, We are here, just like Kilroy and Blucher, to leave behind a marker for the ones who follow: Dude, don't be afraid. You can figure it out for yourself. That's the whole point. Ignore anyone who tells you different.
* * *

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Not Some

"It's not some message written in the dark
Or some truth that no one's seen
It's a little bit of everything."

- Dawes

* * *

There is this: life insists upon itself - past your fears, past your doubts - and calls each of us into our name. When we listen, our lives run in greased grooves. When we are deaf to it we are fucked fuckers. It is never once and for always, but a bidden thing, a daily choice to be that thing that is solely ours to be, or to trade it in for what others want us to be. But how to know, right? How to know if what you are hearing is life calling you out of the dolor and into the flow, or if it is just a self-soothing lie, an acquiescence to the larger stories of commerce and class, an abdication of your authority for the promise that another authority will take care of you?

Dude, it's not some message in the dark, or some truth that no one's seen. It is there waiting for you each day. It is in a little bit of everything.

* * *

Too often our voice is swamped by louder voices. We learn to doubt ourselves because it is either too loud in the world, or too quiet. We are uncertain where we belong because everyone else seems to have figured it out and we struggle to find our feet. It is debilitating to live so and the tides of self-doubt pull us far out to sea. But why do we allow this to happen? Why do we doubt ourselves and trust everything outside and so very little that comes from within?

Because being fucked is easier than being unfucked. Misery is a pal. Fear our drinking buddy. We know these devils and the longer we re-work the story of our victimhood over and over in our minds the closer it comes to being the truth we live by. Useless, senseless, meaningless suffering is easier to attach our story to than to stand and insist on our name.

But here's the good news: revolution is internal. You can help yourself at anytime.

* * *

It is here: a robin's nest and a featherless bird on the ground, still and quiet except for the flies, clapboard siding thick with layer upon layer of paint, a white rose yellowing and a fat bumblebee nestled inside, coffee sweetened with sugar, the lattice of shadows from trees, the smell of rain, an arm asleep, burning with pins and needles rather than move because you are drunk on the smell of your beloved's air as she sleeps in your arms, books foxed with age and the smell of dried mildew, dog hair everywhere, dishes left overnight, flight, solar flares, rust, eyes tearing up not from loss or sorrow, but strain and hiding it just the same, penmanship, lichen, the Maillard reaction, a baby's fontanel, Venice, music played so loudly your windows rattle, Dylan Thomas, lemon yellow lotus flowers as orange, black and white koi drift below, tiger balm, dovetail joints, fingers stained with paint, a tattooed shoulder, ashes carried in a simple box and at first being afraid, then digging your hands in and saying goodbye, lilacs, small mouthed bass...

It is here, in this world, here and now our living is to be done. It is here we will know love. It is here we will know our name. It is here we tell our story. It is here and now that we live. For fuck's sake, why would you let fear or doubt or someone else's expectations keep you from it?

This is a timed test. Don't die a stranger to yourself. The answers to your questions, to your fears are right here. When you give the voice inside you some space it finds evidence of itself everywhere in your life. Life seeks life. It insists upon it. You can find it in a robin's nest, a rose, a tattoo, the smell of lilacs. When you find the strength inside you, you find it in a little bit of everything.

* * *