Sunday, April 19, 2009

When All Else Fails

If a person could view this planet and human civilization through time-lapse photography, the fact that we belong to a larger "body" would become evident. One would see the ebb and flow of continent and sea, of population, of cities and monuments, mountains and valleys. There would be a rising and falling, an obvious pulse and rhythm. Whole systems would clearly spring forth and flourish for a time, like mushrooms on the forest floor, only to wither back into the rich, self-nourishing matrix of Earth. Expand the scene even further, and witness our solar system, our galaxy amidst millions of others, breathing.

By not exercising this spacious temporal vision, we become myopic and lost within the maze of our own tiny and temporary measuring devices...we crash into the edges of our mental maps.

We spend our time measuring out our lives through various entrancing concepts, large and small. It is a powerful gift! The measurement--the defining--can be done through something as huge as the idea of species or culture, or as small as a word in the back of the mind. We measure in an attempt to "succeed" at our lives. Grades, intelligence quotients, incomes; religious, political or other social movements; waistlines, biceps, gray hairs, approving people, how many nights we haven't slept, how many dreams have not come true, how many scary things we manage to avoid. We measure everything against some ideal self, relationship, society or world, which we hope will bring more security, a better sensation, greater power. And when the numbers and words, or systemic promises collapse back into themselves, as they inevitably do, we call this "failure".

Meanwhile, an underlying support system breathes. A perfectly adapted human body carries on with its dying/healing. A multidimensional universe whispers, points, invites.

It does this in great part through that natural and regular cessation--"failure". The end of a method, a season, an idea, a habitual way. The end of the road, the end of the chain, when the suspicion that we are fooling ourselves morphs into a full-blown certainty. Now what?

What do you do when you find that the idea, word, number, marriage, career, diet, nation, belief, escape, intention, emotion, goal, or whatever it is you lived by is not the thing? Most people, having hit the end of the chain, spend several minutes (or years) flat on the back staring sightlessly at the sky, recovering the wind which was mysteriously knocked out of them. Eventually, being naturally resilient and generally optimistic, they stand back up and attempt to determine the source of the problem. Ah, yes...the chain. I was running clockwise around the stake, when I should have been running counterclockwise! Of course!

Some people manage to yank the stake out of the ground, and spend their lives dragging the chain behind them or wrapping it around themselves (I am a chain survivor). Some people take the chain apart in an attempt to determine whether it is necessary or not to to make a weapon out of it...what exactly is it made of?...obviously, chain equals god/no god, reality/nonreality. Some people grow tired and despairing enough of the damn thing to hang themselves. Some count the links, backward and forward, until they can at last escape the counting. Some do all of the above.

A few of us, having landed for the first or hundredth time like a cartoon dog in the dust, open our eyes to the sky, and find ourselves beholding...ourselves. There is an astonishment. Standing up, looking around at this precious place, there is no chain, anywhere!

It's worth a laugh or two...maybe even a lifetime of laughing. And there is some initial sadness, because so many obvious things were the heartbeat of Everything. But it can no longer be overlooked or underseen. Because every iota of being is your face, in your face. The only unceasing, immeasurable thing. The only inseparable, incomparable fact. It becomes obvious that, whether you happen to be standing in a cellar full of rats or in the middle of a wide green field under the brightest sun, awe is the most authentic response, an emotion that simply can't be weighed.

Out of this pure subjectivity grows a love that can't be shaken, that has no opposite. The universe stretches and settles into actuality. Failure arises as a story, like success. The story takes its place as one of the myriad beautiful myths we weave to our satisfaction, for our secret delight, in a blatant timelessness...from which the stability and clear health of our Origin in all its motion can be understood.

There is only one response...

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