It is in my response to the world that I discover the thoughts most active within me, and it is quite often a humbling experience. The movement stretches and pulls and teases to the surface residual uncertainties and doubt. I have taken in reams and reams of information over the years intended to set me (and all of us) free, which my Undersecretary of Actual Motivations has taken under advisement, and accepted with a begrudging nod.
Did I misinterpret it as encouraging? Very sly, that whole department.
The Spokesperson out front is under the illusion that taking something under advisement is code-speak for a done deal. It’s only later, when I am doing something– doing something new— that I realize I’ve got vectors of intention dashing in every direction. I’m a bureaucracy that’s closing ranks, hanging posters of gleaming enthusiasts in the cafeteria, holding after-hours meetings and coming up with a plan to return to safe territory. I’m the point of origin of an air raid drill. Everyone just doing their jobs. Running across the yard, holding their helmets in place, looking frantically to the sky.
Yes, I took those ideas under advisement. (We’re leaping over puddles and flinging ourselves down the stairs.) They were very nice, but it’s not exactly the time or the place, now, is it!?
All this because responding to a calling pulls us into the open, forcing us to leave the (relatively) safe environs of our past. It stirs the pot. I think this is why our movement in the world is so important. We can see and experience directly the way our patterns of thought play out.
* * * * *
Hafiz is seated with me at the center of the collapse. He has brought his binoculars, as if we were going birding, and he is pointing out with great care the architecture of insanity. Do I see that column over there? It is on the verge of buckling. He smiles. There is no one to blame. He has seen it a thousand times before, the ebb and flow of human suffering. The way we construct it, the way we tear it down. To him it is simply a movement, with laws no one can change, like the sea, but when conditions change the sea will change with it.
* * * * *
The thing I find is that the line between free and clear expression that brings to light the holiness within us and a demolition derby of dispossessed emotional tenants is razor thin. The line is razor thin but the territories on either side are starkly different. There’s just one thing different– the deepest sensation of identity– and it means everything.
The beauty of being in the world is that if we’re attentive this becomes quite clear. We start to see what we’re doing. We cannot hide from ourselves or the plans we’ve kludged together to navigate the crossing of the line, because as we march for the line a strange thing happens: we find ourselves more and more alone. More and more transparent. Right up at the line there’s nothing left but that gasping for air. Like we’re trying to break the speed of light or something. It’s all that primal discomfort that set this in motion. I’m being driven forward by a strange whip that I once invented.
Jesus puts an arm over my shoulder, holds up his cell phone, shows our location on the map. I can see the line. I can see a cafe, a nursery school, the traffic conditions, an advertisement for a Buick, the weather… and the line. Then he swipes for a while to a point several blocks over, and I can see the line doesn’t exist there.
So I run like hell over there.
By the time I arrive, there it is. I’m crawling and wheezing again. Like I’m climbing to the top of the Sears Tower wearing a bag full of books I’ve read.
Jesus holds up his cell phone. Yup. An advertisement for outdoor patio furniture, two more cafes, an update on the traffic conditions… and the line. Swipes a few times and I can see the line doesn’t exist back where I was.
This universe is rigged, I suggest. My eyebrow is twitching.
Jesus says to close my eyes and consider the street we’re on and imagine the most beautiful flowering of its potential I possibly can.
It comes with surprising clarity when it’s all that you’re after– the stunning goodness in things. Okay.
Good. Now can you see that living inside of the street your eyes show to you?
I look at the cheap construction, the scooped-out roads, the dented fenders and the squabbling birds. I’m squinting pretty hard here. That man on the corner is a beggar with violent eyes. The vision is getting pretty wobbly.
The man on the corner is you, Jesus says. He’s us.
I look a little closer. The man is talking to no one and shaking his head to the sky, then he throws a seed to the pigeons. I see it!
Jesus nods. So live in response to what you see. That is all.
* * * * *
Hafiz has never moved. He is watching the waves come in, the buildings topple over, the streets crack apart. The structures give way to a beautiful city just beyond, and all around. The line is nowhere to be found. He hands me the binoculars.
Thanks, I say. Did you happen to bring any snacks?