Sunday, August 9, 2009

Skidding Sideways

It is quite common, here in a "transportation" age, to think of life as something we ride through. Our vehicle may brave hills-with-a-twist like a roller-coaster, possess the speed of a bullet train, the time-hopping view of the Eight Mile High club, or the sedate patience of a moped. But life is a journey, a highway, a flight plan; we try to stay on track, buckled down, keeping arms and legs inside, with at least one hand on the steering wheel, tiller, or what have you. If someone or something else is driving, we place our faith and trust there (or in the substance ingested to numb the fear of crashing/never getting off the ground).

We all have our various reasons for traveling the speed, distance and terrain that we do, as well as the type of navigation that we use in an attempt to get to our destination--which is hopefully a lengthy ride with many stops in places like Happiness, Fulfillment and Wisdom. Paradise, of one sort or another, is the secret ultimate goal, the place where we get off the train, out of the car, or to which we make one final ascent.

I love flying, amusement-park rides and other mild adrenaline rushes (except the enforced tailing of the guy doing forty-five miles per hour in a sixty-five zone!). But the Life Vehicle is the "mind", and it is composed of stuff much flimsier than metal, fiberglass or wood. It's usually built, in the interest of "survival", of expectations, wishes and various emotional investments. We plan, we map, we choose the means of getting between birth and death with as much care as possible, given the information that we are provided by our education and our senses. Nevertheless, along the way, glitches, breakdowns and canceled flights are common. Confusion reigns, traffic is thick, and the operator of the pilot car seems to be high, stupid, or asleep at the wheel. Or maybe it's the planners, the cartographers, or the king.

It really doesn't matter who we ultimately blame our misfortunes on. Eventually, even the toughest mental vehicle has a breakdown. Here we are, cruising along, and suddenly the wheels or the wings fall off. There's a crash, or at least an undignified skid, and we find ourselves sitting in a pile of junk in the middle of the road.

When this happens, it's usually due to the loss of something we consider to be a major gear or component of our planned survival system. A career, a marriage or a heartbeat stops, or identity is called into question in some other way. It always feels like a failure and a heartbreak, somehow. All the time, effort, care and love we put into our belief and--snap! Just like that, it's gone.

We feel that, if we are vigilant, lucky or wealthy enough, we can trade in or trade up forever. We can choose a new path, a new spouse, a new religion. Right? Accept stuff and move on. Get a better body, a younger playmate, a new way of thinking, a new drug, a shiny new way to race. Or, make every effort you can to repair your current situation, using ingenuity, elbow grease and spare parts from self-help books. Someone hurry up and invent a molecular "beaming" device!

There are a few of us who get tired of this game, who dab at the cut on the forehead where it hit something suddenly still, and walk around our heap of stuff, come to rest before (to our way of thinking) it should have. Once the initial daze of hurt, anger and grief wears off a bit, we examine the remains of the vehicle, looking for the failure point.

Perhaps it's the same, or different every time; but one thought comes to mind-- I am so sick of this!--followed by the realization that this always happens, regardless of the advertised strength, durability and comfort of the mental transport, or the accuracy of its navigation system. Obsolescence, we realize, is built right into this whole deal. Ugh. How, we wonder, can we keep this up? How many times can we believe that this ride is the best one, the one that will at least bring some modicum of peace as the landmarks fly by, if not a thrill a minute? There has to be an easier, less taxing, less painful way to do this journey...

Of course, this road less traveled is rutted and not on the map, so few travelers come this way. Gorgeous blondes in convertibles generally don't, and neither do knights on white horses. Corporate jets are too distant to spot your tiny self. Census-takers don't even venture in this direction. All you have are your feet. Do nomads even wander by here?

We may sit, for a while, in exhaustion, in depression, nursing our hearts. When a backside is in contact for a bit with a landscape in the middle of emotional nowhere, a funny thing happens. Our hearts somehow connect with our minds and bodies, and we realize that heart is independent of the flaming pile of rubble we chose to travel in. Heart is actually so flexible as to be unbreakable, no matter the pain around the wreckage of what we thought we were. The pain is actually the true opening of the center of feeling, an opening which is an untinted window of opportunity, an honestly different and relevant way to go.

It is the heart urging our first shaky steps away from our former way of life, out into the wild blue and greenish-gold yonder...the heart which recognizes the softness of the dust between the toes and the intensity of gravel beneath the sole; the heart which takes in the possibility of nothingness in great big gasps--nothingness and aloneness and spaciousness, unmapped adventure among people and stars and stalks of wild oats. Because the heart is the author of the ultimate way, and writes its own vast beauty exactly to fit you as you walk for perhaps the first time amid your creation.

Human-speed is exactly right for bone, blood and muscle. It allows a new path through the eye in which dewy spiderwebs, distant barns and small pieces of blue plastic come together like a stained-glass portal to soul. Details burst into view, microcosms of the universe swirling above and around, fractal patterns of rythmic sounds and smells. The world is far more sacred than could ever be known from the confinement of a well-aimed trajectory!

The holy leap could take a person directly into the lap of a Swedish model or the driver's seat of a Lamborghini; but everything has changed, and you will never be able to trade the sweetness of pure love for belief in that new car smell again. Love gets trapped in your hair, like smoke from a disaster which has transformed, somehow, to incense. People might notice that, even in heels, you walk like you're barefoot in the grass; or that you wear a hemp bracelet as if it were diamonds. Even in the air at 600 miles per hour, you are cloud-roaming, heart-dwelling. Daisies and houseplants are aware of you as their very unfurling. Animals lean on you in delight and birds lure you into vocalizing your longing for echos.

All this is directly traceable to your breakdown, or maybe to the mass dreams of the future, or perhaps a gleam in Lilith's eye before she bolted to some other dimension. The wreck has been reframed as art, as a gift, as an invitation accepted. You can never be a mere passenger, a hardened commuter again, because life is not something traveled through--it appears on your breath, as your touch and feel, before the speed of light...

No comments:

Post a Comment