Saturday, April 23, 2011
There’s a spider crawling down the easy chair next to my desk. It is black: more like a mini tarantula than a dime-sized daddy long legs. From my experience, seeing spiders inside at this time of year is quite normal. Are they too waking up? I don’t know, and the more I wake up, the more springs that come my way, the more I realize there’s so much I don’t know. And it’s okay.
I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to know, trying to find meaning in things: why did this happen, why did I say that, why am I doing this again? It has been an honourable Delphic way, I suppose. I certainly do know myself. And what’s the other aphorism: an unexamined life is not worth living. I probably would have gotten a ‘B-’ in Socrates’ class: commendable effort with more work to do.
What I’ve come to understand recently is life is wrought with paradoxes, and if you try to make sense of it, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
I’ve spent a lot of my life being crazy, and I’m hoping to leave it behind.
It seems to me that what I thought I knew, turns out only to be what I had imagined. Shakespeare said: All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players. Looking back, I see I have been an actor in an improv troupe and have played out my whole life around certain themes, certain plot points. Had I chosen other themes or plot points to swizzle around, my life would have been totally different. I say this not with regret but with fascination. I am a writer; I am what I do. Not only do I create stories on the page, choosing subjects to focus on and editing what I don’t like, I do the same with my own life.
So now as I start the descent on the great wheel of life, I find I am changing focus. Instead of looking for perfection and therefore imperfection, I am more interested in finding wholeness and its fragments. And here is an interesting thought, a paradox perhaps: If I give up wanting to be perfect, will I become whole? Yes, I said the wrong thing at the funeral; yes, I put the wrong burner on and melted a tray; yes, I stayed up too late playing video games. I definitely am not perfect. But wholeness. That I can strive for. For me it’s about being authentic, it’s about turning my light on with courage and respect, and it’s about being resilient and knowing where my reset button is when I get overwhelmed.
All those years I spent navel gazing maybe wasn’t so poorly spent. Now I can see what scenes are being played out and can choose to step in and act a part or not. A few weeks ago I caught myself playing the role of the terribly wronged customer berating a telephone agent but then realized it wasn’t how I wanted to express myself in this world so stopped mid sentence and apologized. Interestingly, I got what I wanted within twenty-four hours in a way that was truly miraculous, but that’s another story. Don’t get me wrong, drama can be fun, it can even be useful at times, but like any tool it must be used with awareness and care.
You know what? Even that is a story. There are no answers. There are only stories. Some people around the world are using them to manipulate and justifiably murder while others are using them to reconcile and inspire. It’s all story. Who we are is a compilation of the stories we tell – on a personal, family, community and global level. Everything around us is the result of our personal and collective imaginations. Unfortunately for most of us, the theme of the saga for far too long has been divide and conquer. What if we decided to change it however to something like unite and prosper? Could we do that? How would we?
Well you know, there is an election coming up. Isn’t that interesting.
Let’s see. Which party offers secrecy and denigration and which party offers openness and wholeness? Which themes do we want to focus on: fear of losing what we have or hope of having enough for all? Can we, in our imaginations, visualize a nation where each and every one of its citizens is strong and free? We first have to be able to imagine it before we can change what we have. John Lennon tried to help us see a new way but I guess we weren’t ready to pick up our tools and do the hard work of editing. Are we ready now?
I don’t know.