Wednesday, May 24, 2017

You Better Take

You better take your time
You know there's no escape
The future sends a sign
Of things we will create
Baby it's alright
And so have faith
Oh yeah, you invent the future 

That you want to face

- Fleetwood Mac, "Future Games"

* * *

Everything you need is at hand, is within your reach right now. It may not be what you imagined and it may not take the shape you'd hoped for, but everything you need to begin is already here. You do not need to search for it. It is not hidden and it is as elusive as you want it to be. 

The Buddhist concept of "the supreme meal" touches on this. It says, with care, the ingredients you have on you - no matter how few or how common - can be transformed by your attention into a supreme meal, a meal shared with others. What transforms water, rice and onions into this supreme meal is the mind that touches those staples, the hand that crafts them, the spirit that offers it to others. There is no longing for what is not there. There is no guilt in its humble state. There is only its transformation in the heart and mind of the cook.

Everything you need is at hand. It's what you want that is killing you.

* * *

How often have you postponed doing something because you were waiting for some more perfect moment, a moment when you felt you had everything under control, all the questions answered? It is one thing to plan, it is another to act. I can tell you, from the bottom of my soul, that choosing to act is how you bring about change. If you are fucked and stuck you have failed to act, failed to act from the well of your being. 

Paralysis. Doubt. Fear. These are the bedfellows of postponement, delay, excuses. But know this as well, not all acts are equal, or viable, or to be desired. Only those acts that are drawn up from the well of your consciousness, only those acts that are awake and aware of themselves, only transformative acts like rice, water and onions bring relief. It is by using what is at hand, and not wishing for anything else, that you free yourself from the traps and snares that limit you.

No one ever believes this. No one ever believes this.

We are told from our earliest memories to want the sun and moon and stars, to look at what we have and only see what we lack. There are entire nations without clean water and we value a green lawn. I say this not to create a false equivalence, but to remind you that you have more than you know. When you wake up in the morning you have two types of water: hot and cold. This is a miracle easily taken for granted. If you are mired in the muck of doubt and fear remember you have a mind capable of transforming rice, water and onions into a supreme meal. This, too, is a miracle easily taken for granted.

It is this innate, untapped, latent power that we each possess that is the answer to the question of how do I unfuck my life? You begin by boiling some water, cooking the rice, chopping onions. When you're done clean your tools, care for them so they will be there, ready, tomorrow. Do nothing absently and all things are transformed. If you rush, if you cheat, if you cut corners and are satisfied with good enough, you will never move from the spot where you are glued.

* * *

1971. Worth, Illinois. Through the open garage of our neighbors, the Lahey's, I hear Led Zeppelin pounding out about levees breaking. I had no idea what a levee was, but my hand to God, I wanted them to break. Music poured out of that garage: Zeppelin, Edgar Winter, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, The Who, The Stones and Fleetwood Mac. Future Games was the odd man out in that lineup, but that was where I first heard it, first heard Bob Welch's high, nasal voice see-sawing thorough the lyrics. I fucking loved it. Time and tide and no one really remembers the Bob Welch era of Fleetwood Mac. Maybe the Peter Green moment, but with all that came later, Future Games disappeared. 

Except in my head, because my memory is like velcro holding onto bits and pieces for no good reason.

I've been playing this song over and over for a month or so and I still fucking love it. It teeters right on the edge of completely drippy and awesomely cool. And as I sat down to write this morning, it was at hand. Right there. Within reach. Present. I always need a push from something I've read or heard to get started on these things. Sometimes it is a direct link, sometime oblique. No matter. It gets me started and that is more valuable than any attempt at consistency.

The future is unwritten. It needs a hand to write it, to form it. Waiting on occasions will not fashion it. Only those who act, only those who work with what is at hand, available, within reach can transform what happens today into the reality that brings tomorrow into being. And those acts are transformative to the exact degree that they are mindful, shared, wanting nothing more than to be.

* * *

I wish you well.


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