Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lost In The

Lost in the world
It seemed
Caught and lost for words
I didn't know til now
How could I have known
I didn't know til now
How could I have known
But now I see, but now I see
how sweet like a leaf
And now I see, I see it complete
And now I see, like a leaf

- Jim James, Know Til Now

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I have been thinking about us, about why I write these pieces, about why you might read them, about the reasons behind it, the place all these words point to. For it is assuredly not these words that matter. It is not the text - that is just a sign pointing to a deeper, unwrite-able reality. Words are a vehicle. I love writing them and they are, or can be beautiful, life-changing. It is a type of art we have invented like music, or dance, or image; but like those plastic arts they are but signs and metaphors approximating a deeper, bone deep knowledge and experience of life that we struggle to not only name, but stay connected to in our lives.

It is never the sign, never the art, but the reality behind it, supporting, surrounding it that matters. And a life spent building signs for others to see, to make with what they will, is also a metaphor - a living metaphor - that others can read and make with what they will, what their own genius will demand and so continue the work of learning how to be human in this time, in this place.

I began this project several years ago as a way of knowing my own experience, of holding it out at arm's length and looking at it, the chips and flaws as well as the brilliant places and filtering it through the music and poetry and thoughts of those who left behind those artifacts seemingly just for me and trying to find where my experience overlapped with theirs, where my road echoed something they had experienced. That is where this began. It is not where we are today.

All art - not just the fine arts - but the art of living is the art of leaving yourself behind, your vanity, your hubris, your fears and opening the doors of experience, busting them off their hinges, blowing out the walls that held them and entering into the stream of the life that surrounds you and being connected to every corner of it. You can't be in all places. You can't serve all people. You can't answer their questions. What you can do is be present. What you can do is the work your hands demand of you. What you can do is free yourself of the dogma of your time so you can help free others - not by the answers you come up with, but by the subversive example of simply being here: awake, alive, unafraid, participating in the joys and sorrows of our days.

I unfuck my life by being here. It is part of who I am now. It is not the totality of my work, but it is foundational. I write so you might find these words and think they were written seemingly just for you (and they are), so that you might find an echo of your own experience and so be emboldened to let go of the traps and snares you may find yourself in. And if that was all we did I'd call it a good life, a fair trade, a briliance.

But we can't stop there.

Every generation believes it is the ultimate generation, the one who faced the greatest obstacles, overcame the deepest hells, invented the world as it is. And in a sense, that is true enough, and the poets and thinkers and workers and soldiers and businessmen and politicians and priests all believe they know and never once consider that what they know is simply a repeat of what the generation before it went through. Certainly with new names, new technologies, new horrors and new faiths, but essentially the same: how are we to live.

* * *

We are in trouble - collectively, on a planetary scale. The narrowness of our politics, the tribalism that has never left us and is blind to all things that do not fit into the narrow, short-sighted, immediate goals of the group in power (and the plotting of those out of power) has always been a threat to our lives, has always been used to excuse and justify the horrors we rain down on anyone and anything that is "other." To quote Tom Waits, we are monkeys with money and guns. Just like every generation before us, we need people to come alive, to be awake and unafraid, to be present and accounted for, to be selfless in the face of willful ignorance, to help in every corner by simply being connected to the life that surrounds, subsumes, and supports it. Listen, we are fouling the nest, destroying ecosystems, boiling away the ice caps and building a watery end to the human experiment all because we are monkeys with money and guns. The world needs you to show up, to be the voice crying in the wilderness, to subvert the arches of commerce with a life well-lived so it emboldens others to do the same.

By doing so you will leave a trail of artifacts that the next generation will pick up and use to filter their experience and see if there are places where their experiences echo and rhyme with yours. It is what we do best, it is the best of us, our finest trait, our highest art: we are living metaphors of a completeness that cannot be named, but experienced.

* * *

It's okay, man, if it hasn't grokked til now. But now that it has, you know what to do.

I'll keep doing my part here. Go get to your stuff. This is why you are here. This is what you were made for.

* * *



1 comment:

  1. I believe this man would qualify for a life well lived - Captain Paul Watson, what a man, what a life.