Thursday, May 22, 2014

Have You Ever

Have you ever worn thin
Have you ever never known where to begin
Have you ever lost your belief
Watching your faith turn to grief

- Ben Harper via The Blind Boys of Alabama
Give A Man A Home

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Hey, man, there's work to do. I know you've been busted up some. I know you've done some meanness in your time. I know how precarious it can seem, how tired and worn thin you can get. I know this because you and I are the same. We are brothers and sisters staggering on, standing still, racing the wind, always with a road to put our feet upon and there are times when it is just so fucking hard to know why.

Baby, it ain't why, why, why. It just is. That's all there is to it. It just is. You is. I is. We is. We are here and there is work to do. Lay down your weary tune and get to work.

But that's easier said than done, right?

* * *

St. John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul, the yearning for connection unmet except by faith and faith in short supply.  This is the nature of who we are: we seek connection, a harbor, a home - safe and certain - in the surrounding darkness and when the difference between who we are and what we've become grows too great there is collapse, confusion, chaos. We stagger on not believing a thing; feeling the fool for ever once believing. Our losses are taunts, humiliations, proofs of an indifferent cosmos. It is a promise broken.


You can spend the rest of your days in that mire. It is true. That is an option. So is a pollyana, immature, saccharine faith all sunshine and lollipops that bears no weight, that induces sleep rather than emboldens you to awake.

But there are other options as well.

Joseph Campbell said, "that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s."

That's your work, love.

Quit asking life to be fair or just. It is not. It cares only for more of itself, more life, more change. When you are fucked and stuck and going nowhere you are outside the floods and waterspouts of God, of Life, of the whatever name you choose to give the combustive energy that sustains life. If you have been worn down by the difficulty, the pain, the suffering you have met in your life your task is not to curl up in a corner and nurse those wounds. No, you are to transform those trials, those losses, that pain, those site specific happenings in your life into acts and doings that are the fulfillment of the potential that exists solely in you. And the vehicle for that transformation? Why the pain itself.


I know you don't want to hear it. Some losses are unimaginable, seemingly unbearable. You want them to be unbearable so you can finally lay down and quit trying. But you haven't quit, have you? You are here. You are reading this. This is your life trying to come back to life. Listen to it. Follow it. You'll have to let go of some things. We fucked fucks are ever faithful to our pain, never leaving it, always tending to it because we believe we owe something to it. And we do, but it ain't holding on to it. It is letting it go and moving once again in the world.

Your trials mark you. Your bruised faith marks you. Your losses and desires and frustrations mark you and are the raw materials you have to work with to transform that experience into something new, something that only your love and will can make. This is your gift. It is your genius.

* * *

We all crave a place to call our own, something that is ours - safe and certain. It may be a home; it could be a relationship; it might be the work you do. But consider this as well: you and your unique experience - in peace and in war, at rest and in motion, filled with doubt or filled with love - is your home, is your harbor and the place you ever return to to begin again. It is where grief turns to belief and you find the world waiting for you and the gifts you bring.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark, I've long been a fan of Hunter S Thompson's books & just came across an article ( ) about a letter that Hunter wrote to a friend who was basically asking for advice on how to live an unfucked life.