Friday, March 7, 2014

These Things You

These things you keep
You'd better throw them away
You wanna turn your back
On your soulless days
Once you were tethered
And now you are free
Once you were tethered
Well now you are free
That was the river
This is the sea

- The Waterboys, "This Is The Sea"

* * * 

It is a sudden wind that meets you, a gust that catches you unawares, passes through your coat and sails on, but for that one moment, that sudden burst - an unseen source - marks you the way you've been marking time. You turn your collar up, cinch your coat a bit tighter and carry on, but the wind has met you; you've felt it in your bones. Later, maybe at home, maybe at the edge of a bar, maybe in silence, maybe in a roar you remember the wind and how easily it saw through you. Your collar can't be turned high enough, your coat wrapped close enough to dissuade the thought that the natural world, the world of winds and storms and mudslides and earthquakes and rain and snow has so little use for you. It is you who must steel yourself against it: build shelters, put away food, learn to live around the edges of its impervious will. This thought disquiets you, but you drain the whiskey and toast the ingenuity of the generations who had it harder. It's not so bad after all. There is beauty in the forms we've created to hold onto to our places in the wide, windy world: architecture, gardens, towns and cities. All that can be done has been done and it is a fine, fine thing.

Yet, the wind persists. It nags and whistles. It cuts and caresses. You no longer notice the wind. It is simply part of the world. Some days it is fair and others foul, but it means nothing. You don't feel it anymore because your mind is occupied with accounts receivable and the cost of a nanny and the registration packet that sits on your desk and the damn bills that seem to fall like snow and that odd ache and tenderness under your arm and you really should quit smoking and sleep is either dreamless and blank (which frightens you because you worry this is what death is like) or it is too filled with dreams that you cannot understand and that, too frightens you and you walk to the corner to grab a beer from Mike and sit at his bar and you turn your collar up against the fucking wind that has just now kicked up and you enter the bar and it is warm and dark, the amber colored booze lit from below along the back bar and you think this is a fine old world after all. Mike pours you a draft and you are glad for the quiet and the bills are stuck on your desk and can't bother you here and the tenderness under your arm you convince yourself is a phantom and if you think about it a little extra weight looks good on you and you tip the glass back. It is bracing and cold and it hits the spot. You smile when you put the glass down. Without meaning to your eye is caught by the bottom-lit liquors. It looks to you like the warm glow of Christmas lights. You smile and your gaze lifts to the mirror behind the bar. It is a sudden wind that hits you, a gust of recognition that catches you unawares. You were just a moment ago a young man of 25, of 33, of 40, of 50, of 60 and now now now...

The wind tried to tell you all those years ago but you turned your nose and collar up, you cinched yourself in instead of opening up: live boy-o. The things you keep will only drag you down and in the end, at the end, their presumed importance will be ash in your mouth.

* * *

There are no do overs, no restarts. The Mulligans we claim are provisional, momentary, a winsome comfort. What there is a new day. We never start from zero again. Each moment adds to the next and what we do today will be incorporated into the next day. It is a dangerous conceit to believe we are born again, as if all that slogging up the hill didn't happen or doesn't matter. It did. It does. You're a fool to discount any part of your days. You're also a fool if you if you hold onto them like talismans, as if there is nothing more to think, say or do. If your eyes open in the morning, there is more for you to do.

Mostly it has to do with letting go.

Regrets are illuminations come too late. To be awake in the wide, windy world is to move from moment to moment alive to the possibility of each moment. Holding onto the weight of memory, of regret, of pain, of joy, of happiness robs you of the chance to see what this moment can be for you.

I get it. You've been hurt. You've hurt others. You lied. You cheated. You stole. You were afraid. You had a great time. You were in love. You slept. You believed things that you no longer believe in. You lost faith. You burned trust. You weren't kind when you had the chance. You were impatient with the littleness of your kids, the frailty of your aging parents. You lost track of your friends. You were betrayed. You were comforted. I get it. I've been there. I know the contours of that hill. But so what? It is just life, it is just magnificently life pouring itself out over your head. Let it go and go do what's next and then let that go and do what's next.

We confuse the shore for the river and the river for the sea.

Your god is too small if all you do is cling to the shore, the idea of a god you can name.

When you move past the past, when the dichotomies whither away, when even the idea of god cannot be named you'll be free. If you're willing to become that which you are - an essential part of a whole that is bound by no shore - then and then and then when the lights go out you become the wind itself.

* * *



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