And in the night my father came to me
And held me to his chest
He said, "There's not much more
That you can do. Go on get some rest."
And I say, yeah, maybe I think too much
- Paul Simon, Think Too Much (B)
* * *
Who we come from, where we come from and why are all outside of our control. If we are lucky we have food and shelter. If we are truly blessed there is love and connection and understanding. This is so. This is so. This is so. But the rest of it is for us to figure out, to take into our hands those things that can build a life into the shape, color and tenor of our choosing.
But we get lost along the way, don't we? The plans, aspirations, dreams we held so close as we grew up morphed into accepting what was at hand, nearby, within reach. We are the ones who should have morphed into beings with a greater reach and because we did not, because we held the bag while those around us lost their heads, because we had an uncertain footing, because we could find precious little in the world around us to allay our doubts, cool our fears, we took to the grain and our dreams were no longer ferocious with our spirit, but docile, tamed, ever so compliant.
And yet, it chafes, does it not? It chafes the soul to be so poorly used. We know something is amiss and we know we're fucked and stuck and going nowhere (except maybe in circles). We just can't riddle out how to break this awful cycle of doubt, remorse, self-flagellation and trying to boot-strap our way to happiness.
We look to our past, our families, our childhoods, our love affairs, our relationships, our jobs, our losses and like witch doctors we spill the dry bones of the past trying to discern the future. And it either hurts all the time, or we feel so very little. This is what it is like to be fucked.
And those who came before us knew this as well and they, our parents and our grandparents and our cousins and relations stretched out across the field of time, were broken, healed, lost, redeemed, convicted and set free as was their due. Some of us know the stories of our people. Some know nothing and that absence is just another sort of fuckitude, but I tell you upon your faces, in either case, that you are looking at it the wrong way.
* * *
No matter if you come from love, or have run from desolation, no matter if you know your history, or are a blank slate, no matter, no matter, no matter what your condition - the names of your losses, the signs of your gifts, the betrayals and wounds of walking in the world, the communion and healing of walking in the world, you cannot look to any of that to excuse, justify or rationalize what you think, say or do today.
Listen, you can spend your days reliving the past, combing over every injustice, or every golden moment to find the thread of the life you think you have lost and doing so will keep you forever feeling like you are lost, forever feeling fucked, stuck, damned. But it isn't that you have lost something, it is that you are not using what you have. Right now. The thread is not lost. It is in your hands. It always has been.
We are waylaid by others' notions of what life is for, how it is to be lived and to what ends. We model the habits of our families and so we come to resemble them in large and small ways. This becomes a wound we pick at when we are older, blaming them for being who and what they are and then blaming ourselves for aping them. But that shit needs to stop. It is just what happens inside families. The real test is not that we reject our people, or deify them, but that we leave them in peace and slather on the compassion so we can find our own feet.
You can't get there by thinking too much. You can only get there by going there, by doing, through right action. And right action is anything that reveals and supports your essential self without denigrating or limiting another.
* * *
Last night I dreamt of my father. He stood beside me. He said nothing, but it was clear he had something to say to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and then he was gone. I'd missed him so I played the dream over and over just so I could see his face again. At first, in the dream, I was afraid, but then with each playing of the dream my fears eased until they were erased by the time I woke up.
He was a good man, deeply flawed, wounded by the loss of love as a child, and he often could not find the words to express his feelings. Silence was his way. He was ill-prepared to be a father, but then again, aren't we all? He knew there was something great he could do in the world if only he could break free of the weighty obligations he taken on. He knew it. He dreamed without ballast. He worked like a pig and others got rich from his labor. When death was knocking at the door, he was relieved to be done with it all. Except, at the last minute, he did his great thing, achieved his greatness. He showed my brother and I how to die: filled with compassion for our coming grief.
This is the doing we must do, my friends.
Thinking only goes so far. Living by choice, with compassion for our sins and the sins of others is the way of happiness and belonging to the world.
It came to me in a dream.
* * *