Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fill Up Your

Fill up your glasses
And take your stand
Tip your hat to the world

- Bob Dylan, Duncan and Jimmy

* * *

5 years, 293 posts, something like 200,000 words, 1 premature good-bye, thousands of readers and the incalculable happiness that accrued to me for keeping your good company all this time. Thank you.

For a while now I have been hesitant to add more to this body of work because I knew my time with it was coming to a close. When I was a kid my mom gave me Leon Uris' book Trinity and I inhaled that book until I got to the last 100 pages. I could not bear to read it, to have it end, to let go of such a thrilling book. So I read no more than 5 page a night in order to make it last. I have been slow to write here because I knew soon I would be letting go of this, too, and didn't want it to end, though I was certain it must.

And so, I have come to say good-by and to thank you for being here. You have added both ballast to my wanderings and made my life lighter, easier to carry and nothing I say here can repay such kindness.

* * *

Five years ago I began this project with no idea about what it might be, only that I had to get started. The ideas that informed the work evolved over time as my own thought and ability to write it out changed. The gift of long practice in writing is not the discovery of your voice, but the mastery of it. I make no claim as to any mastery, but I do know that writing for you has brought me closer to it and now I have to try it out in other ways.

I have loved doing this. Thank you for reading it. There is a balance restored when a reader finds someone's words and every word read helps that restoration.

I'll leave this blog intact and available for as long as I live and may it do some good to those who encounter it.

* * *

So, fill up your glasses, my brothers, my sisters, and take your stand. You got this. Your life is a gift forever being unwrapped by your experience, your love, your willingness to walk the road in front of you. Tip your hat to the world and say yes to it all. Even the good-byes.

My love forever.

Boom.

__________

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Beggar Man Beggar

Beggar man, beggar man
Tell me no lie
Is it a mystery to live
Or is it a mystery to die

- Bob Dylan via Rhiannon Giddens, Spanish Mary

* * *

That's the ball of wax, isn't it?

* * *

The mystery of our days are the days themselves. The mystery of our lives are the lives themselves. The mystery of our deaths is death itself. Where, oh where can a poor man lay his head in all of this? I just want to pay some bills, have a beer at the end of the day, and maybe, just maybe curl up next to a body that loves my body and rock awhile. Not too much to ask, mister. Not too much at all. Now leave me be, leave me be my show's coming on and I have 4 beers left before the night is through. I been down in the bottom with no place to go but up. I seen the lights of Paris and I seen men die from forgetfulness. Now leave me be and grab a beer if you're staying. Other than that, other than that, this is my time. My time and I like the quiet.

* * *

Listen, the best thing I know about being here is we don't know a goddamn thing. We have feints and suppositions. We surmise and we guess. We believe and then don't believe. We cobble together a way to move on, always on (even sitting still is an answer - a shitty one, but an answer nonetheless) never knowing if what we're doing matters at all. God awaits in heaven, or he doesn't. Hell is sitting there waiting for the violent, or it isn't. We pull back from questions of the afterlife and focus on the here and now and here and now and here and now we idle in passing pleasures and passing griefs. But time abides, my friends. Time abides and the flesh we've clothed ourselves in begins to fail, discombobule, rattles and rusts and then, then, and then our passions are spent or unused and we are here no more.

So, let me ask you, is it a mystery to live or is it a mystery to die?

From where I sit, the answer is yes.

This, this one moment, this right now is the mystery and it is plain and ordinary. Any moment has within it depths and layers to satisfy any interpretation of it: superficial, spiritual, material, emotional, psychological. If you see with tired eyes, then the world passes unnoticed and miracles of infinite possibility pass without being touched or considered. It always used to blow my mind that my father could see birds in the trees. He'd hear their song, look into a tangle of branched and burled twigs and limbs and leaves and find the damn thing and try to point it out to me. All I saw were leaves. He found the source of the song. Maybe it is something that grows as you get older, but now I see the birds and can pick them out from the tangle before me.

Two people in the same place at the same time having two entirely different experiences of the same thing. I don't know why he wanted to find the birds, but I know why I do it: to remember him and his good company.

This, itself, is the mystery of life and death held in birdsong.

* * *

So, let me ask you, is it a mystery to live or is it a mystery to die?

Each moment waits for you to see it.
Each moment is there for you to use.
Each moment, regardless of your circumstance, is a chance to choose how you will undergo, how you will experience, how you will enter that moment.
Each moment has more than leaves and birds in it. It is up to you see all you can.

And there is this: death sings its own songs and worrying about it now robs you of the mystery of being here right now.

And there is this: fear is death leaking into life and hiding away, hiding in hurt, hiding in anger, hiding in worry blinds you, blinds you, blinds you to the emergent mystery unfolding all around you: life, motherfucker, life is incessant and insistent and awaits your contribution. You can refuse it, if you like, but life will flow anyway and fill in the space where you could have been.

* * *

I been down in the bottom with no place to go but up. I seen the lights of Paris and I seen men die from forgetfulness, busted up because things went wrong. I seen dogs with two legs and touched Lincoln's brass nose. I been places and still have places to go. Grab a beer and if you'll sit a while I'll tell you what I know. I got lost on the river, but I didn't drown.

* * *

For you, Pops.

__________

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sometimes It Is

Sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness

- Galway Kinnell, Saint Francis and the Sow

* * *

The object of any life is to live it, to experience it, to know what it was to be alive at such a place in such a time. It has never not been this way.  The question then becomes: what sort of experience are you having?

Too often we determine our experience by its outward makers: what class we are born into or aspire to, the color of our skin, the faith we believe in or reject, our parents' approval, the cohort we associate with, etc. All of this matters. All of it is important because it is the world we are hurled against as we try and sort out our gifts, our abilities, our opportunities and our dreams. Each circumstance is unique. Each is fraught with limits. Each is a type of school we attend. But we fuck ourselves royally when these outward limits, these external circumstances trump our innate ability to know ourselves, to act from self-knowledge and replace it with an unshakeable faith in our externals (the job we have, the money we spend, the attractiveness of our spouse, the achievements of our children, the superiority of our politics and it doesn't matter if we come at this from a position of want or affluence: it fucks us just the same). When you spend your days fulfilling roles that are not born out of your innermost knowledge you become disconnected from the one thing you were born to do: experience your life. Fully.

Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.

* * *

My experience has been a haunting of close, but no cigar. I spent my youth chasing dreams that were desires built on doubt: earthstruck lightning claps of earnest passion devoted to others' ends. There was an emphasis on being perceived as good, or somehow worthy. Many good and beautiful things came into my life and quickly exited because there was no ballast to the passion, no grounding in myself to know this was what I wanted, but only that I could reach it. Living so I was always haunted by what could have been. My mind worked great feats of emotional gymnastics to torture some logic out of my failings. Like earth-centric astronomers, I invented retrograde solutions to explain away what was plain and present: I was not I.

At its root, this is what it means to be fucked.

* * *

The privilege of a lifetime is to live it. If you live out your days wearing another man's clothes, you have missed your opportunity to know life, to be in the stream of the endlessly creative forces that combust and propel all life from the past to the present. This is your time. There is no other time to be alive. A great and kind man, Father Damien, former Abbot at the Our Lady of Gethsemani monastery in Bardstown, KY, once told me that God is forever calling us into our name. I have always loved that idea: the door is endlessly held open for you to walk through, for you to become who you are and to give what you have to give.

In order to do that sometimes it is necessary to reteach a things its loveliness.

And who will reteach you? God? Saint Francis? your beloved? your children?

No, brother, it will have to be you.

Your life is littered with chances to relearn your innate loveliness, your innate worth and desire. Littered, I say. But there is a price you must pay: you have to let go of the past, of the mistakes, the losses, the scars and stand naked before your life and say yes to it all. It is the only way you'll find the courage to live your life out loud, in your name, by the light in your head. Half measures and promises to get started on a self-improvement program won't do it. You have to let go. You have to trust yourself to know how to respond to the circumstances of your life from the center of your being. Things haven't worked out because you haven't been yourself. You have been what others wanted you to be. You have convinced yourself that's better than what you know. Enough, now. Enough. You got this.

Ever so softly it grows when you don't wear your armor
Crushing confusion and the burden sour

A life on fire with its own power is loveliness itself and whole and complete regardless of circumstance.

* * *

Boom.

__________