Into the Breach

So, the effort to separate the real from the unreal continues apace out here in…wherever this is.  We saw President and Mrs. Obama on TV yesterday (yes! downward facing antenna-dog!).  (As always, she rocked it).  The discussion included how people who work hard should be able to succeed in this country, blahblahblah, responsibility, sacrifice, blahblahblah.

I found myself experiencing a certain amount of discombobulation, as is usual when I hear things like this.  I mean, I prefer hearing THIS to hearing the drums beating for “job creators”  and “exceptionalism”, and “restoring the future” (how can you restore something that hasn’t happened yet?) and all the rest of the whole cloth of untruth and deceit that gets unfurled constantly these days.  Because there really is something else, some indefinable something, that must enter into what comprises success in this country.  Hard work and responsibility and sacrifice alone don’t quite do it.

What I ended up thinking at the end of another long, challenging day was what I usually wind up thinking now.  There are worlds within world, throngs within throngs, and somehow the lines between them all are both transparent and impenetrable.  You have to define success in terms of the big picture, the long term, and somehow in terms of your own coherence.  Not in terms of what you own or how you look or even what kind of “professional” you are.  Needless to say if the brass ring hasn’t installed itself in your living room there can be some tooth gnashing- at a minimum.

Part of what I’ve come to understand I’ m writing about (because seriously? it seems to just have a mind of its own) is this whole journey we make through life, how it gets set up and oriented, what we learn about ourselves and how we have to undo the damaging parts of that learning.  I realized I’m much younger now than I was as a kid, for example.  As a child there were responsibilities and situations to be dealt with that were, to say the least,far above my pay grade.   Ultimately that left a dent in other developmental areas, left a mark which everyone else saw and understood.  Not me!  No sir.  Took quite some time for that.  Now there are the constant ups and downs of things and the tremendous anxiety of blazing a new path with no map except a vague sense of magnetism, and of course the never ending dance with money.  But it seems to me that the big task IS individuation, opening one’s heart and mind, even though as Chogyam Trungpa remarked, we’re up against tremendous resistance.  Once you do that, however, everything changes.  It starts to be a little vertiginous, perhaps scary, to venture forth into world where nothing is as you previously thought it to be.

It’s probably part of why people don’t always want to do things that will help them “get well”- once you shift, for example, and see that the stress of your job is going to kill you even though of course you are So Grateful To Even Have One, what do you do then? The choices are not really there when you’re between a rock and a hard spot.   Once you orient yourself using the stars, your deep inner heart’s voice, though, instead of a shopping mall or exercise of power, the field of being shifts and the whole world does, too.  Somehow then you really just can’t keep going on in the same old way, try as you might it just won’t work.  And even though, as Marshall McLuhan wrote, “the integral being cannot be…tolerated in a fragmented or specialist society…” you find you just have to step out into that void, where you finally may learn to fly.  At the very least, you start presenting a moving target.  How that works out with your old friends, your family, your career- all unknown and often not terribly warm and fuzzy.  This larger view creates the beginning of difference, big differences perhaps.  But it is where many of us, I believe, find ourselves.  Now we must begin to find each other out there, and make a better world with what we’ve learned.  Because differences mean that we have things to share with each other, in the final analysis.  Not that we’re wrong or bad.  Just that we have different knowledge or experience- and the road to sanity does pass extensively through the Land of Learning That Differences Aren’t What Make Things Go Sideways.  I find my prayer mostly these days is that everyone on earth can find a moment of peace inside themselves and remember that we are all one.  Those who hurt us as well as those who love us.


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