Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Things Take The

Things take the time they take. Don't
How many roads did St. Augustine follow
   before he became St. Augustine?

- Mary Oliver, "Don't Worry"

* * *

Let's be clear: life is a ceaseless event horizon, an ever cresting wave of opportunities to know what it was like to be alive. Our job is not to corral it, dice it up and make it manageable - to say I'll have only the pleasant and easy, the downhill glide, but to engage it as it comes, to take it all in. There is a great danger in doing so: you learn to fall, to fail, to try again as ceaselessly as the wave coming to you but that that is more exhilarating, more worthy of being called life than the settled mind and being content with half a loaf.

If it takes the whole of your life to know who you are then so be it. There is no promise of ease or peace, only the struggle to find your feet, to know your name, to use the days you have to become what you might yet be.

It is by our works, our doings that we arrive.

Augustine traveled long before he became Augustine. It strikes me that Mary Oliver found her road sooner, but no matter: they both had to walk them.

* * *

There is an ugly strain of privilege that runs through a lot of the writing on "following your bliss," "finding your passion," and the like. It is an exceedingly first-world perspective and one I consciously try to undo here. So much of that conversation is about money, the economics of being happy in a capitalist society that it really is only about finding a way to climb on top of others to get a bit of air. It says: take your passion and monetize it. That somehow is equated with freedom or individuation.

Nothing is further from the truth.

It keeps you in line, in place, supporting institutions and societal propositions that exist to keep you in place.

If you have to go looking for your passion you're more fucked than you know.
If you think bliss can be found in a bank you're as fucked as they come.

The roads we are to walk are unique to the time, place and circumstances we are born into. We are innocent of those circumstances until we begin to support them by subjugating our sense of the possible and then do as we're told. You may not be able to leave the difficult job you have, you may not be able to find work, you're physical freedom may be hemmed in on all sides, you may have suffered violence and tragedy, you may be gagging on a silver spoon: no matter. None of that relieves you of the obligation, the one true privilege each of us born with: the chance to know and experience the life in our hands.

To do that, you will have to hit the metaphoric road over and over again. You will have to learn and then shed your learning and then learn again - for yourself - what it means to be alive. It is, ultimately, a journey to find your voice and to then use it regardless of outcomes.

Maybe we've all got our missions 
And they're doled out like seeds unto the ground
You gotta job, you've got a duty to make your sound 
The same if they're waiting for you,
The same if there's no one around

There's no mention of money here, no promise of ease, no qualities of having made it. Just the call to make your sound, that being reward enough, reward complete, the whole reason for hitting the road.

* * *

And don't worry. St. Augustine didn't start where he wound up. Neither did Mary Oliver. Neither will you. The only question that remains is will you stay the road until you find out who you are, what your voice sounds like and will you then use it. 

Anything less is just getting in line.


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