Just watch the colors of the morning fly
May not be getting any younger
But my lord we're feeling so alive
Come on baby let the river roll on
(Lord don't let me lose this feeling)
- Cotton Jones, "Somehow to Keep It Going"
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What can I tell you that that that will be of any use to you? On page six of one my copies of Aurelius' Meditations are these words: to communicate liberally, to be useful. This was a note he made to himself, a reminder of what was at stake for him and how he was to proceed. It has always struck me as the core of all this this this. What is useful is often the thing we take no notice of at first, the thing we pass by because it is everpresent, part of the view. It takes a measure of time to see it for what it might be to us, how we might build something around that and so begin to have a different sort of life. We already know the life of getting in line, getting in debt, following the path well-marked. If you don't look closely it passes as close enough. But sometimes, if you are lucky, if you happen to pay attention to something you hadn't noticed before or hadn't seen in its uniqueness, or hadn't experienced as something new or vital or solitary, you get the chance, and chance only, to alter the path, to not follow, to build from this new insight a different way of being in the world. It needn't be all ferment and turmoil. It could just be watching the colors of the morning fly.
* * *
The task set before us, each of us, is to build from the materials at hand. You cannot worry about the life you wish you had, but must, by needs be, focus on the life you do have, the one in your hands, the one filled with delight and horror, beauty and destruction, peace and desolation. It is by looking closely, honestly, the veil of your fears lifted that you can begin to sort through the possibilities of what to do next. So much of life as I have known it, as informs this this this writing is simply rebuilding. You have the option, at any moment, to build your life around something different, something other than what's been handed to you, expected of you, or what you have made of it so far. The center of your life is not fixed, but rather is fluid, responding to new experiences and new ideas. The faith of your childhood is different than the faith of your middle age is different than the faith of your deathbed. We fuck ourselves by trying to keep the center still, static, immobile, solid. Or, if we are desperate to be rid of that center we despair of ever having the strength and will to alter it. Either is harrowing, but both are resolved by the act of seeing the world that surrounds you as one of possibility and not inevitability. Nothing is inevitable save for death. The task for us is not found in our dying, but in how we live.
If you have not looked into the sky and had a small burst of wonder or awe or silence at how it is always new, then maybe you should take another look. And when I say "sky" you know I mean anything of this world. Anything. Anything will do. And once you see it, truly open yourself to the color of it, the shape of it, how it resonates inside of you, you have the option, always the option, of incorporating that shape, that color that resonance into a new way of engaging the world.
Not long ago I took a walk along the edge of Lake Michigan. It was one of those briefly warm late winter days that cranked itself back into winter after a few hours. My friend and I were walking and the horizon, if you looked east, was water only: a great grey-green mass of gently heaving water and the sky shading into evening. I have always felt at home next to water, which is incongruous because I am not a good swimmer and do not like being in or on water. But put me next to it, next to a great body of water and I am calmed, made well. I have experienced oceans and lakes and great rivers and known I would be happy while I was in the vicinity, but on this day, in that company the water seemed wholly original to me. It changed from an experience I knew would be pleasing into something altogether different. The water looked like time to me, it felt like patience waiting for me to catch up to its imperturbable nature. Since then I have decided that I must live near water. Not simply within walking distance, but next to it so I can hear it, so I can feel its presence. I don't know how long that will take or if I'll ever be able to get there, but my life is now altered because of it.
Your willingness to see the things you think you know already as wholly new is a way out of your fuckeditude. It changes your perception and your perception changes your doings.
* * *
It is easy to imagine that time is somehow the enemy of life: tick, tick, tick... It is easy because we have been born into a time when our species values itself, its primacy, its conquering nature, its acquisitiveness as an ultimate expression of life. But truly, I tell you upon your face, that is exactly backwards. Acquisition, ego, man as the pinnacle are the manifestations of our ancestral, ancient fears that we are alone: our loneliness the engine of our genius. Time is. It is neither good nor bad. We experience it in our bodies and our minds. We make it an enemy. We call it the avenger. But, without being naive, it is possible to experience it differently. You and I are capable of watching the morning sky shift its colors and some mornings it takes our breath away in the way water feels like a call to me: we're alive, we are gifted with experiencing our lives, with meeting water and sky and imbuing them with meaning, comfort, motivation. We are able, if we choose, to use these things to build a way of being in the world that is different from the path of expectation and matriculation and conformity. We can do this because it is sweet, couldn't be sweeter to just watch the colors of the morning fly.
We're not getting any younger, but this is how you get to feel so alive.
* * *
I wish you well.