And hard to live out of it
It is hard to be one among many
- Dhammapada, "Out of the Forest"
* * *
It is always hard to know, to really know what to do. Those who squawk with certitude are the first to be ignored because they ignore this maddening truth: it is hard to be one among many. We move through the world as we find it, as it finds us, with a longing to belong, to know our way, to be at home in this wildly strange, savage and beautiful place. We long for certitude because of its strangeness and its savagery and our smallness in the face of tides and seasons and animal migrations and death, always death, as seen in rotting leaves and felled trees and these images from the natural world are echoed and replicated in our bodies and, fuck, we just want to know everything will just work out. We want to know that our oneness among many has not been for nought. We want it to matter.
But it is hard to live in the world
And hard to live out of it.
So, what's a soul to do?
I don't really know, but I think it has something to do with letting the strange and the savage and the beautiful in, to find what is strange and savage and beautiful in yourself so you can see it in the world around you.
Savage is a difficult word here. It smacks of violence and racism because, well, if it wasn't European it was savage (just as all non-Greeks were barbarians). But that is not how I am using that word here. A closer definition would be: vital, the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, unbridled, physically present, intuitive, pulsed not only to the rhythms of its blood, but to tides and seasons and animal migrations, and, yes, to its death.
* * *
Fear makes us small, makes us cruel, ungenerous, warring. We fear because it is hard to live in the world and hard to live out of it. And so we scramble after promises and encamp ourselves in opposition to all the other promises, because the unavoidable truth is that there will always be a cacophony of voices proclaiming their flavor of the truth and each will draw its adherents out of the promise to end fear.
This is the civilizing of the strange and savage and beautiful and the Arch of Triumph at Palmyra survived 2000 years of bloodshed and indifference only to be toppled by certainty.
It is hard to be one among many, but not impossible. In fact, it is the very threshold to what is strange and savage and beautiful in your life.
Each must answer for himself how to undergo, how to experience the days they have to live. Each is born into a worldview that is handed to them, shoved down their throats, or abandoned to indifference: each begins somewhere and must use it as their starting place regardless of the circumstance for you are wholly innocent of where you began. Your responsibility lies in where you go.
You may opt for the promises made by institutions.
You may opt for your own.
You may opt for none.
That's what's so hard about living in the world: how do you make sense of it, organize it in order to make sense of it?
What if we're not to make sense of it? What if, instead, we are to experience it: directly, without a filter, taking in as much as our senses can bear, as much as our spirit is capable of?
Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, it is our spirit that makes us strange and savage and beautiful; it is our spirit that is echoed in the forests of the night and found in the strength of our limbs, the clarity of our sight, our willingness to enter the forest where there is no path.
Your breath is your home. Knowing this, how can you not know that you are the many and the one? The forest knows nothing of trees.
With each step you have arrived.
With each step you are home.
With each step you are strange, savage and beautiful.
Keep it up.