Thursday, February 24, 2005

Actually, we do have to 'stay the course'.

It’s a hard thing to determine where the responsibility lies. We look to individuals and to conditions, we look at events and the way they were and- were not -responded to. Top heavy intellectuals and bottom feeding opportunists both have their take on things seen from the perspective of uninvolved detachment or prospective gain, respectively. Viewpoints can be changed because of argument but... has the condition under discussion been altered? The conditions seem to remain. They take different names and they profess different motives. And the beat goes on.

One of the interesting ironies about life is that good things often result from the efforts of bad people. Actuaries can compute the cost of the venture that brought the blessings. They’ll tell us in dollars and sense talk about cost benefits and bottom lines. But it is left to each of us to measure our individual pain against the value of the thing learned. It is up to us collectively to see if the lesson has eased the pain of what we have been left with.

I don’t need a subject; something to use as an example of what I’m talking about, do I? Somehow it seems the mind can make all sorts of associations without any clear idea of what is being discussed. How much of this world is important to you? How did it get important? Many things are important only in their relationship to something else. Quite a few things are important in a general way because we are expected to value particular things. When a man’s pride is gone, his interest in the things that gave it meaning often go too. As hard as it may be to accept it, that man may be finally on the right track. Should he send a thank you note to the person or the circumstance that destroyed his life as he knew it?

Sometimes I think of people on their deathbed; people yanked violently from their focus of the moment, people in a real sense of death’s approximation, or any of the myriad possibilities of critical change. There was this man or this woman, they dreamed and labored and reacted through every day in pursuit of that important thing; that important thing that was defined for them as important or that important thing that was somehow more important to them than anything else. As I’ve said, many things are important only in their relationship to something else. It is staggering how trivial that important thing can be. It is baffling what pointless enterprises people will get up to. And they just fight and struggle and work toward it, long after the meaning is gone; if meaning there ever was. I think more and more that people have no idea why they do what they do. They have no idea why they want something. They have no idea how they got where they got. It just all seems to have a mind of its own. The passions cool, the compromises ensue and most wind up treading water until they drown.

It’s as clear as the noonday sun to me. I’m not supposing by this that I am right. I have no way of knowing that except subjectively. Right doesn’t have a universal definition anyway- casual observation shows that. But, in the midst of it all, it’s clear to me that there is only one thing that is important about this whole operation we call life. It’s clear to me that freedom is the most important thing. But you can’t have freedom without inhibition. You can’t have freedom without constraint of some sort. An airplane won’t fly unless it is held together and designed, shaped; restricted and limited in certain ways. So somehow discipline is the key to freedom. Proper limitation is the key to freedom.

In a strange way, the only real goal anyone should have; the only goal that ends in total satisfaction, is escape from this life as we know it. That is, escape from all the conditions and appetites that make this world seem desirable. Although generally unaccepted, it’s a fact that most of what we want hurts us. It’s certainly a riddle.

Although I’m not a mathematician, I tend to see the world through a mathematical lens much of the time. For me it all adds up perfectly. It has to. So if it isn’t adding up then there’s something wrong with my figures. Most people aren’t disposed toward adjusting their figures to get the right result. They want to cook the books in favor of what they hope to get out of the thing. Unfortunately, the thing doesn’t work if you use a corrupted abacus. You may surround yourself with riches and a cornucopia of delights but... you are going to be miserable; maybe not in the short run but assuredly when the novelty wears off and especially once your strength has been leached away. I guarantee it. For the vast majority who don’t get anywhere close to that there’s the pain of the want and the bitterness of failure.

There is a narrow course in front of you. It is always there. The degree of your pain and suffering is measured by the degree that you vary and the rate by which you vary away from this course. This course is not some arbitrary measurement set up by a spoilsport of a God, blind fate or capricious random circumstance. It is the course of your best interest and you set it up yourself. You just don’t remember. Many religious philosophies have mentioned it; The Golden Mean is a good example. Individuals have this course and nations have this course. People die in car crashes alone and with other riders. Planes crash with hundreds of people and nations crash; worlds collide. No calamity, no matter how great can affect the individual who is centered in their course.

Every circumstance and situation in your life is set up to narrow you to your course. There is no other reason why anything else happens to you. Karma is only the measurement of the distance between your position and the smooth sailing of your course. Perfect freedom exists in the adherence to your course. It may seem like a high wire act but there’s no falling off if you are on course. Lack of balance only intrudes when there is a question about your course. But, uh... hey, I don’t want to go that way. That’s it, isn’t it? You know better.

As the course sets in, a gentle nudge, a slight tug of the reins is enough to maintain the course. If that is not sufficient then the guidance is less gentle. The guiding hand can become severe as it shapes you to your course, to the limitations necessary for freedom. Why not move in the direction of your best interests? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and ALL THESE THINGS will be added unto you.”

Every individual who has worked on the behalf of a greater individual and collective freedom has been jeered at and mocked and scorned. Look it up. You don’t like to be jeered at do you? You’re more comfortable in the holding pen outside the Judas Gate. You like the riotous splendor of the hog lagoon. It’s great to be in the ‘hail fellow well met’ Academy Awards celebration of thousands all catching the reflection of their importance in the mirror. We’re awfully vain aren’t we... when we’re going on about how much we’re doing for our families and the human race? Our contributions are registered. We’re fat and happy in our suits as we get our citations and accolades. It’s a bitch to be doing the right thing and getting stoned by the raving mob.

I am just beside myself at the degree to which people will accept a lie that has no possibility of success. I am endlessly astounded at the rationales given for why we have to have and do all of the things we have to. This certain course, this seeming bondage and exclusion of all life’s bounty is your greatest treasure. You never got anywhere worthwhile without limitation. What seems to be your worst enemy is your only true friend. I do not expect at this time that these ideas will gain any popular support. But there are always the few for whom such a thing is mothers milk. I thank with every particle of my being the kind and beneficent hand that has shown me this course. I am rocked with gratitude for this. I can only hope that you will recognize your friend and let it be his good pleasure to grant you the kingdom.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If this were a church service I would jump up out of my seat, shout "HALLE-F'ING-LLUJAH, AMEN BROTHA!", jump around uncontrollably, go into some sort of ecstatic, filled-with-the-spirit conniption fit, then blissfully pass out and fall onto the floor in a state of unspeakable rapture....

But since I'm reading this from my desk at work right now; I'm just going to sit here, let the beauty and truth of these words sink into my being and try to hold onto this feeling of gratitude I have for reading this, my day (and probably more) now overwhelmingly changed for the better. Wow.


ben

Anonymous said...

Damn Les! echoing the above comment as well. Once again you've got half a dozen things working under the surface and it works whichever way you look- seen or not.

I envy you but emulation is rather more to the point.

z a

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.

CC

Anonymous said...

It's so true. I feel like I'm in a mental institution most days, trying to stay sane while the inmates act out under the medication. As usual you've nailed it.

Erin

Anonymous said...

...reading my mail again, you.