Thursday, January 13, 2011


There are very few of us sitting around with the sense that all is well and there is nothing we are longing for.  When I was young I met Allen Ginsberg and all I could muster the courage to ask him was, "Are you content?" and he answered, with irritation in his voice, that finding contentment was not what it was about. Was he irritated that I was so ignorant to bother him with this question or was he irritated that he wasn't content?  Based on my experience I'd say that very little is about me so I conclude that he was irritated because he was not content. 
So.  It bugs us that we are not content.  We long for a sense of peace and serenity that transcends the trials and tribulations of this world.  I think about Corrie Ten Bloom who spent time in a Nazi concentration camp.  She was put in barracks that were flea infested and came to be grateful for those fleas since they drove out the brutal guards who did not want those bites.  She saw the fleas as a gift from God.  To me this is an amazing story.  It opens the possibility that the things we loathe and that drive us crazy may be miraculous.  Rather than inventing poisons to rid ourselves of irritations, poisons that in the end kill us, too, we may change our perceptions and see these irritations as divine gifts.
So.  There's this awareness of life that we share.  Some call it a journey and that seems as good a metaphor as any.  So we truck along this road and suddenly run into some wall like losing a job, having an unfaithful spouse, a child who wants to go on birth control, or a broken foot.  To keep going forward we try to scale that wall only to find it is made of polished marble and greased.  We still try to scale it and become more and more determined.  "How unfair," we cry, "Apologize right now for hurting me and you owe me so much now." or "There is absolutely no way that is happening."  And we try again and again to get over the top of that growing, slippery wall.  Then, by some grace, something catches our eye.  It is some flicker just on the periphery of our vision.  For a moment we turn our heads.  Low and behold there is the path stretched out to our right side.  It is a lovely path worn by millions of soft feet.  It is lined with wild flowers.  We see friends and potential friends there coming and going.  They are cracking jokes and some are singing.  We look back at this wall we've been obsessing about and wonder what the heck we've been doing.  We are in danger at that point of really killing ourselves.  Can we forgive ourselves for all of the energy we've spent on trying to climb this wall?  All we have to do is turn our bodies to align with the journey again and take one step. Then a friend grabs our hand and we take a step together.  It is easy.
So.  The wall is a pain and is frustrating and infuriating.  Yet it seems to be there to keep us from going too far down a path that is not the true journey.  Baseball helps me here.  Three strikes and the player is out and another one gets a turn.  When I do something three times and it still doesn't work I try to pay attention to that.  I admit I've made a deal with myself and what I imagine to be God that goes "I think this might be what I want to do.  I'm going to do it.  If it's really a bad I'm sure you'll stop me.  Since I'm not all knowing or anything like that I'll try it again.  If I do it three times and it still isn't working then that's it.  I hear you and I will try something else." 
For now that is the best I can do.

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