Wednesday, August 30, 2017

We Have Fallen

We have fallen out of belonging.

- John O'Donahue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

* * *

I was haunted by John O'Donahue last night, though I am certain he'd have never considered it such a thing. Until yesterday I knew nothing of him and today I am changed by him. He'd been a priest, a poet and philosopher. Mostly, from the bit I can gather, he was just a good man who worked at his work and loved the western wilds of Ireland where he was born. He died of a sudden at the age of 52. In his sleep. The parenthesis closed. And last night, as sleep refused my entreaties, John O'Donahue, a man who wrote blessings for the lostness of our world, haunted me: Get on with it, then.

* * *

We have fallen out of belonging to the world, to its wildness, its unconcern, its stillness and forms: glens and marshes, limestone valleys, ocean shore and windswept scree. Houston is underwater because developers were trusted with a flood plain. Everywhere commerce controls the view, controls our lives, tells us when to wake, where to work and how much we're worth. It is all second nature to us and we've traded our primary nature for it. We fallen out of belonging to one another as well. The competition for dwindling resources pits us against one another whether that resource is a decent job, or a plot of land or the pleasure of being left alone for a few days from the job or the house. We have fallen out of belonging to our time. Instead, time controls us, tethered as we are to our technological crutches. There is a filter, a scrim separating us from our world, our time and our place. It is a displacement disguised as a benefit: isolation.

Solitude is the soul seeking its respite. Isolation is to be bereft of a soul.

Man first stood upright on savannas. We came into being knowing the horizon. It is ancient in us to seek the line between the earth and sky. It is ancient in us to be at peace when we can see the horizon. It is our home. It is our escape route. It is safety and promise. By crowding out the line, by building canyons of commerce and absorbing the shoreline for only the wealthy we have starved ourselves of our belonging. Subway systems, traffic flow, rail lines are the arterials of commerce and everywhere they blind us to the world. 

Work, yes, but only at your work - whatever it may be. Not another man's work. Not on another man's terms, but on the terms and conditions you set. I know it seems impossible, and it likely is, but we must try to wrestle back from the overarching presumptions of our times the value and worth of the time we have to be here on the earth, to do whatever it is we are to do with the bit of time we have to do it in.

There is an ancient wildness in us still: the collective unconscious, what's bred in the bone, pre-knowledge. You can feel its presence when you stand alone in any broad landscape, where you can feel rooted in place, yet are dizzy with the spectacle before you. It is the old in us calling to us.

Chief Seattle:

"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected  like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand on it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap  contempt on its creator.

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket Be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival."

* * *

We have not been living, but surviving for a long while. Look at your own days. How has that been going? Even if your bills are paid and your children well and kind, can you say whether you've been living or surviving? I have survived for a good long while. I am good at endurance, but less so at living. Yesterday, I met John O'Donahue, a priest who gave me his blessing and nothing will ever be the same.

* * *

Beannacht

_____


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice I Don't

"Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” 

- Alan Watts, Apocrypha

* * *

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. That's not the hard part. The hard part is putting those answers into motion the way a man runs to water with his hair on fire.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You just don't trust yourself. That's what locks your wheels.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. But living by them is a higher cost than you want to pay, even though you continue to suffer, founder, stumble.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You know it in your bones, in the depth of the night, but not in words, more of a pulse and impulse. And this leaves you vulnerable to the judgment of others.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Yet, there is a keeper on what you'll allow for yourself: the accumulated weight and expectations of others.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You know who you are, but you are busy being what others want you to be and you think that will be enough. It's not, and you know that, too.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. They exist as the body's knowledge of itself, its needs, aversions and desires. It is a language only you know and translating it into action is how you redeem what's been lost.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You are the eyes, ears, voice, feet and hands of the universe perceiving and knowing itself through you. But that seems weird, so you pretend it's just you.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Your story may be tragic or euphoric. Still, it is your story and you are telling it with every choice. So, double check, what story are you telling: the lie or the truth?

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. You can't help but have them. They are stitched into everything you do. Now what you do may be a rejection of that truth, or a denial of it, but that doesn't alter the fact of it.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. It may make for trouble for you, but there's worse trouble staying stuck.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. This isn't a mystery or some mystic crap. It is as real and ordinary as your autonomic nervous system. It keeps you alive.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Fear is a baleful thing and it loves stasis. To start is to put a knife through fear.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. The first step implies and propels the second and so on. Thresholds are to be stepped through, not camped out on.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. There are people known and unknown to you who need what you have to offer, if only you'd get it into the world.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. No matter what you do, do it as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depend on it, for it does and they do.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Quit comparing yourself to anyone. It can't be done and is a waste of everybody's time–most of all, yours.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. All of life, the whole of the known universe is motion and flow and transformation. Undig your heels. You'll feel better instantly.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. People forget this.

Here's the thing: you have all the answers you need to get started. So, rid yourself of the lie that it's too late, or your gift too small. Time and size are meaningless constructs. There is only you and the life in you veins. Now go play before the sun goes down.

* * *

Cheers.

__________

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Found Out On

Found out on my own
That everything I thought I knew
Twas a lie twined and twisted true


- Valerie June, "Twined & Twisted"

* * *

Things take the time they take. Things take the time they take. Thinks take the time they take. Tattoo it on your forehead and let the rest go. Really, let it go.

* * *

We enter the world: light, sound, vibration, touch and coo. We enter the world helpless and glad of it for everything is new and help (if we are well-loved) comes on a breeze and soothes what frightens and disorients us. We enter the world a knot of unknowing and time unspools us to our knowledge, our knowing of the time and place we are from, born into and out of. We are blessed whether we know it or not, whether there is one there to do the blessing for we are of Life. We are ripe with it. It drips from us like a snotty nose: profuse, unawares, shimmering. What we don't know, what we don't have the experience to know yet is so amorphous, unshaped as to be invisible. We know light and sound and vibration, touch and coo. Time betrays us, draws us away from the cloud of our unknowing. We are taught, formed in the floods and waterspouts of the circumstances of our birth. Stories come to ears and we can't help but measure ourselves to those stories. Even the most benign and loving story is a scar. But we do not notice for all is of a piece and is ordered to the life we are experiencing: want, hunger, plenty, security, violence, adoration - no matter.

Then come the others, the cohort and their stories and the stories of the community: religion, politics, the preferred, the acceptable, the rewarded. And we can't help but measure ourselves against these stories and every story leaves a scar. Perhaps, lightly, perhaps thicker, but we are shaped nonetheless. Following the path of these stories we feel them to be powerful, irrefutable, or if refutable, at great cost and most stay silent to all bu their darkened rooms at night. Our ceiling hears the story we want to tell, but the incentive to silence is great.


So many lives are lived in quiet desperation, right?

Until such time, until such time that the silenced voice can be quiet no longer. Then what?

It is a long way from the world we entered as light and sound and vibration and touch and coo. Heavy now, heavy with experience we are now called to let grief be a falling leaf. How can this be? How can this be? Where has the time gone?

Things take the time they take, ease up on yourself. You are still and always have been new to the world. New to light. New to sound. The stories that guided you, that formed you at the start are, without hesitation, lies twined and twisted. That is true. But only because they were handed to you and not experienced in your bones. They sought to save you the difficulty of finding out on your own, but that would rob you, did rob you of the life you are to live. And here you are with your heels blistered from running in the dark. Now what?

Well, now that you're here in this place of uncertainty, of the impulse to regret and recrimination, of abandonment and teetering fear this you must do: use your voice. Test it out. See what it sounds like now that you're on your own. Listen to it. Keep at it. A new story will emerge. It will use bits and pieces of other stories. Like a magpie you'll steal from experience and you'll cobble together a story that is familiar in parts, thoroughly inscrutable in others. This is your story. It has never been told before. If you remain silent, it never will be told, or it will be told by others who couldn't possibly know what you know.

* * *

Things take the time they take. You learn what you have to learn in the time it takes you to learn it. There's no hurrying, there's no shortcut. Don't indulge the bitter fantasy that you could have done it sooner. If it was possible, it would have happened. Re-litigating the past only corrodes the time you have to get all your living done. 

We arrive here with the plates in our skull unsutured, a pulsing, soft hole covered by downy hair and skin yet to be closed. We are born incomplete. Into that hole is poured all light and sound. The knot of our unknowing unspools in lies twined and twisted that we took for truth. Experience scars us all. And if you can bear it, if you can keep your feet moving, there comes another unspooling, the one where the lies are forgiven and your story ready, twined and twisted from the roads you've traveled, emerges from your throat: ripe with life, filled with light, sound, vibration, touch and the cooing of one filled with joy and sorrow for what the rest are yet to go through.

Things take the time they take. 

* * *

May your well run deep.

_________