Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Muse Don't

The muse don't care what chords you use
The time to burn is yours to choose

- Rivulets, "Ride on, Molina"

* * *

Some things won't leave me alone. This song is one of them.

* * *

The universe doesn't care about your worry. You do, but it doesn't. The whirling, spinning, expanding math of the universe doesn't care about your worry, your hesitation, your sense that things have to be just so before beginning. It doesn't care about redemption or remorse or reinvention. The muse don't care what chords you use, only that you play. The idea that we have to be right, correct, perfect, spot on, worthy is utter bullshit. That thought does more to stymie, stifle and cut you off from the flow of that spinning, unwieldy math than anything else. Life feeds on life. Motion, motion. The more you do, the more is done, right? Arguing with yourself that because your life, the art of your life is mottled, ragged around the edges, sore to the center, not completely formed and you, therefore, are an imperfect vessel misses the point entirely: you are formed in the floods and waterspouts of attempt, essay, dare, uncertainty.

The task each has set before them is to remain willing to move, to act while all is uncertain, to leave security for the dawning next, to get started, to start a fire with nothing left to burn. 

The muse don't care what chord you use.

* * *

As you stand, so you hold within you the possibility of entering into the stream of the mad math, the burgeoning sense of the new, the birthcry of what happens next. It is within you to engage it, to run to the space just ahead of you, outside of your well-worn path and be struck dumb by what you find there: such is the beauty of such daring. No ease, no promises of peace, no money to be made, no pats on the back, no love save for the love of belonging to the world and it to you and seeing, seeing, seeing it as a god might see it, as God might see it, as you, the god within you sees it. 

In dire times, when institutions are failing, our patterns failing, the cure is not to cling to the past, but play the future into being. It is entirely within your capability to form the world, to bend the math, to bring about a life you'd put your name to and so alter the arc of the spinning math for others, who then are dared to do their part as well. Circling back, retrograde dreaming keeps you stuck, keeps you trapped, cedes your freedom to choose to choices already made. Do not wait on moments, do not tend to ceremony. No time will ever ripe.

Of the river's secrets, however, today he saw only one that seized his soul: This water ran on and on, it always ran and yet it always was there, was always and ever the same and yet at every moment new!

* * *

We believe the gods fussy, jealous, hard to please because we are fussy and hard to please. But the flowing math is not anthropomorphic. It is a flowing fire and it seeks fuel. You, my love, are that fuel. The doings of your days are the straw for the fire. This is no bad thing. It allows you a hand in the arc of the math, the river's flow. What you say and do here and now will set the stage for what happens next. What will you have that be? If you stay where promises can be kept just know you've stood on the shore. Is that the inheritance you meant to leave? There is time. There is time. If you can read this there is time for you to enter the stream, to be part of the flow, and even now, even now, even now after all you've lost, suffered or feared, after all of that - whatsoever it may be - you can still add your weight to what happens next. The specifics of your life are simply what brought you here.

The muse don't care what chords you use.

* * *

I wish you well.

_________

Thursday, December 15, 2016

You Cannot Mend

You cannot mend the chromosome, quell the earthquake, or stanch the flood. You cannot atone for dead tyrants' murders, and you alone cannot stop living tyrants.

- Annie Dillard, For The Time Being

* * *

The strength of our weakness is without end.

* * *

We exist in an agreed upon space. All that has been determined as good and meet has been determined long before you arrived. We rise into forms predicated on such agreements. Our ideas about self, marriage, community, work, faith, aspiration, desire are agreements we enter into. It is here we search for, discover or build meaning into our lives.  We, by every decision made or unmade, accumulate by degrees, the life we are now living.  To be an outsider, a rebel, a non-conformist is simply a function of the agreed upon space. It helps define the norm.

This is where the limits of our will meet the vastness of proscribed forms: this far and no further. You cannot mend the chromosome, quell the earthquake or change, by one iota, the forms of religion, politics or money. You are but one in a sea of ones who cannot agree that the sea even exists. What are you going to do? 

W. H. Auden once said, "Poetry makes nothing happen." He's right. It, too, is one of those proscribed forms that very few now bother with. Yet, I'll argue that it is poetry, or something very close to it that does not yet have a name, that makes everything happen. Poetry is pattern, sound, and seeing. Done with some sensitivity to those three things it mirrors the experience of cresting a hill. While you are walking, or hiking, the hill looms in front of you, occupying most everything you see. In those last steps as the hill lowers itself under your feet, what had been unseen now reveals itself and you stand on the edge of the new.

This sensation of emerging into the world, or having it reveal itself to you, is the synapse of creation. What hadn't existed a moment before was now present, a new connection forged between you and the world as it is, not as you've presumed it to be. The key to this revelation are those steps, those acts undertaken to find and meet the world as it reveals itself. The world where you know what happens next, the world of proscription and damnation, of rewards for compliance is the wasteland, the land of the dead who just don't know it yet: the tyrant's schoolyard. The wasteland is where you are trapped by your job, your obligations, where you seethe in your inability to change your circumstances. It is where you die each day instead of once and for all.

The cure, if there is one, is something like poetry. It is pattern - both obvious and latent (ten fingers, ten toes, the slalom curves footsteps make on unmarked paths, Fibonacci, atomic numbers, slant rhymes, breath) - interacting with sight and sound that draws you forward, carries you forward, draws you on to the emergent, unknown territory between what you've experienced and what happens next. Sitting back births the same thing over and over again. This is why you are trapped, stuck, lost. It takes courage, the courage of a poet, to crest the hill in front of you and find the world you haven't been able to imagine.

The problems we face, as a species, are vast and overwhelming. You cannot stanch the coming flood. You can, however, create a way of being in the world, as it is, not as your fantasy wishes or your pastor tells you, that can forge the connection to the next step, and then the next step and the one after that. It is always the same step, but you must take it for nothing can happen until you do. 

Don't worry about looking foolish or failing. That is the judgment of others and of little use. Those worries are part of the closed loop of the wasteland. Take a step, and another. A world you did not know existed will come into view. To walk like this is poetry itself.  To walk like this is to join life's inherent, creative pulse for what comes next.

* * *

The poet Christian Wiman wrote: 

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he's made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he's made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he's made
there is given one shade
shapes exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows.
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he's made.

* * *

I wish you well.

__________