Saturday, July 23, 2005

How We Come By Our Lessons...

I was walking the family dog, a dog of mixed but distinguished lineage (grin); not actually my dog; it’s too small to be ‘my dog’. But it is a nice dog and it is a smart dog. We were making our way up the sidewalk and I was letting the dog sniff at her leisure at all the fragrant locations that were at her level. My theory is, if you are taking a dog out to do those things you don’t want it doing in the home and also for the exercise it should surely get, then you should let the dog do its thing on the way. You shouldn’t push it along and take all the enjoyment out of being a dog.

The dog was unleashed. Some are and some aren’t around here. It’s a small, upper middle class neighborhood that I live in; at least I would call it that considering the selection of neighborhoods I have seen over the years. It’s also in a country where people drive a little faster than they should much of the time. They have a motor vehicle impatience here which I, for some arcane reason, attribute to the fact that they eat too much swine. They also drink more than I think people ought to but not generally while they are driving. This does add to a sense of nervous insistence when they aren’t drinking though; at least I think so and there is the ubiquitous sexual frustration that seems to haunt most cultures. You put it all together and people have some distractions running through their minds most of the time, whatever they are doing.

The dog is not on a leash. Most people leash their dogs for several reasons; the way people drive in the neighborhood, the possibility of combative action with other dogs and the fact that they may not trust their dog or themselves either. This is a conservative neighborhood. I’d call it Libertarian from what I can see. It’s also the kind of neighborhood where most people have known each other for generations. They know all about each other and they chatter about each other and watch from their windows, even if you can’t see them. It’s not my kind of place but it is where I am for the moment.

I leave the dog off the leash because I want to encourage the dog to respond to voice commands and because I want the dog to be able to pick its spots and enjoy them during its walk. This is good late at night when I walk the dog. Late at night there are seldom any cars and the dog likes to disappear into dark places searching for things of dog interest.

I was walking along this morning with the dog and thinking about my life and wondering why I wound up in some of the situations I did in this life. I was trying to reason out why I was at such a high place early on; so centered and focused on the straight and narrow path and how come I wound up tumbled in a washing machine of strange madness during an extended period in the center of my life. I was wondering why God allowed this to happen to me. Here I am now, sometimes struggling in my days with the residue of old fascinations and the wreckage of unfortunate mistakes in judgment. Slowly but surely I seem to be coming back around to all of the things that centered me earlier on. I find so many of the things that used to attract me to have been garbage. I haven’t been able to figure out why I had to go through such things with no real reason.

So I was watching the dog go among the bushes and cobblestones; always mindful of cars, though I have the dog pretty clear about staying on the sidewalk in its perambulations. I let the dog do its thing because I knew it was all tied up with the dogs finding the right set of circumstances to do its business. I imagine that the necessary combination of smells and reactions might be as arcane as the rituals of a secret society seen from a dog’s point of view.

I’d walk on ahead and the dog always continued on after me because the dog knew it was following me even while it was doing its dog thing. Occasionally I’d say “Okay, Lily” and she’d trot after me, leaving behind whatever had fascinated her at some locus. Then it hit me. It hit me in one of those subtle ways where you know as you are realizing something while someone else is right there with you in that moment. I realized that in my life I was that dog.

I was a dog on the sidewalks of the world and God was walking me along his chosen route. God knew I had some business to do there and God was content to let me do it because God knew the long road home and knew that I would follow. God knows that he can call me at any time. God knew why we had gone out there; how long we would be there and what directions we would take, just like I did with the dog. God let me sniff around on the sidewalk and in the bushes. It wasn’t a big deal. We were out for a walk and once we were done we would go back home and God would feed and water me and care for me as I needed it, just as I would with the dog.

It was such a clear thing. I could have wept from the insight but it wasn’t that kind of an insight. It didn’t hit me in a visceral way. But it was so clear. The most surprising part of it was that, just as I wasn’t judging the dog and wanted the dog to have its freedom and thought fondly of the dog; God wasn’t judging me and wanted me to have my freedom; always thinking fondly of me. God knows all he has to do is call me if there is any reason to and I knew the same about the dog. I can’t convey how powerful this insight was at the moment that it happened. Maybe you can imagine it. I feel a lot better all of a sudden. There are times when I don’t feel all that good about where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’ve no personal reason to be hard on myself. I think its something that hits all of us because the world that surrounds us is so censorious. Sometimes it is the residue of our upbringing as well and the telepathic invasion we were too young to protect ourselves against. Most people never break out in the way I did and it is fear that inhibits them. Consequently when they see people who do break out they are not generally supportive.

Well, this is the day after I posted my most recent essay and I’ve no plans to post another today so I’ll just let this sit here and percolate until tomorrow. I wanted to get it down though because it was an important event in a place where nothing ever happens. I think I’ll go write something at Smoking Mirrors about living in Europe and get back to this tomorrow. Thanks for your understanding.

I’m back now, having just read this. I can see that I didn’t express this with the clarity and inspiration that I would have liked. But I can see that the idea is there to grasp for those who will. We need to understand that we are not alone on our walk. We have a guardian who is always nearby. He’s watching us. He’s not judging us because he knows that our detours in the realm of sensation are only temporary and part and parcel of our total journey. He/she sees us for what we really are, not for what we are going through or how badly we sometimes handle it. The more that ‘we’ accept this as true the more we are changed in understanding. As we are changed into understanding we share in the walking of our dog; that portion of us that is reactive and instinctive and often controlled by false impressions and atavistic fears. We learn to laugh at the conclusions of our intellect which is also a dog, barking at our footsteps as we approach the precipice, just like the figure of The Fool in the tarot card. To our intellect certain things spell grave danger. The danger is to the false identity and to the attachments of false identifications, not to our real selves. The fear of danger is often a danger in itself... and I am not talking of prudence here. The deadliest fear is the fear of change. We think we shall endure by resisting change when change is the cornerstone of eternity.

There was a time when I was rushing with the fever of the blood in the great sensorium that is this world. I would often combine the passions of the flesh with the poetry of the soul for, after a fashion, there is a truth to that. But my sense of smell has changed. I’ve had a long and wonderfully exhausting walk and I’d like to sit by the fireside and let my master scratch my ears. I will sleep and I will dream and I will awaken from my dream and I won’t be a dog any longer. I won’t be a dog because my field of interest has changed. My form will change in order to facilitate new interests. My paws will become hands so that I can engage in tasks that dogs can’t do. Some part of me will remember though and it is understood that that memory will serve to make me compassionate and kind... because I can see the long road back. Climbing that mountain, for most of that climb, one can only see the path that they are on. But once you have come to the top of the mountain you can see all of the pathways down.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Les,

Thank you. That's really all I can say; especially today...an even bigger thank you than usual.

ben

Anonymous said...

Absolutely stupendous Les! This one caught me flatfooted. I saw what you saw, shivers man.

Bruce

Anonymous said...

Les,

Thank you. Excellent essay! Good metaphore, or was it a metonym.

Love,
Celeste

Carla said...

Beautiful Les

Anonymous said...

"There was a time when I was rushing with the fever of the blood in the great sensorium that is this world. I would often combine the passions of the flesh with the poetry of the soul for, after a fashion, there is a truth to that. But my sense of smell has changed. I’ve had a long and wonderfully exhausting walk and I’d like to sit by the fireside and let my master scratch my ears. I will sleep and I will dream and I will awaken from my dream and I won’t be a dog any longer. I won’t be a dog because my field of interest has changed. My form will change in order to facilitate new interests. My paws will become hands so that I can engage in tasks that dogs can’t do. Some part of me will remember though and it is understood that that memory will serve to make me compassionate and kind… because I can see the long road back. Climbing that mountain, for most of that climb, one can only see the path that they are on. But once you have come to the top of the mountain you can see all of the pathways down."

That is just too much. I printed it out and scotch-taped it on my frig. I want it where I can see it. Nobody writes the way you do.

CC

Anonymous said...

You're linked on whatreallyhappened.com for Smoking Mirrors which is how I found my way over here. You used to live in Woodstock NY didn't you? My dad used to watch your tv show. I was just in grade school then. My dad's name is Michael Berg. He lives in LA now.

Sasha Berg

Anonymous said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!