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.
* * *