Things that are nigh perfect which emerge out of an utterly imperfect world

Things that are nigh perfect which emerge out of an utterly imperfect world, a world that seems to have zero ability to ever come close to even being just acceptable for most human beings. Does the messiness and awfulness rise up out of each individual, and then multiply itself with each interaction between two individuals? How on earth can you solve the world’s problems, if the only way to truly solve them would be to change the heart of each individual human being, one at a time? Of course, you can’t solve anything at all. If you still think that you are somehow equipped with more ability to solve the world’s problems than another human being, you are as misguided and deluded as you were when you were a teenager.

You can pray. You can change your own heart. You can make yourself as much the solution and as little the problem as possible. You can work with like-minded people to do the same. You can be utterly patient and long-suffering with those who are not like-minded, as you should be if you’ve truly changed your heart. You will become a person who says and does many things that go against most conventional wisdom. Most conventional wisdom is based on survival, on succeeding in a tit-for-tat, naturalistic environment where everyone and everything has a price but no value. You can find great success in this world by applying conventional wisdom. You can even find minor success while wearing the mask of someone who is unconventional, even as you practice conventional wisdom in your deeds if not in your words.

Unconventional wisdom is everything Christ taught you to do. Forgive your enemies. Love them. Give freely without any pretense whatsoever. Willingly accept that you will die before your biological time is due. Own very little, next to nothing. Give things away that you were profoundly attached to. Let them go. Pause to let someone waste your time. You shouldn’t be thinking of it as time wasted, of course, but that’s the terminology of our world. Let others distract you and gain your attention. Pay attention to the problems and issues they are encountering without trying to solve them or relate your own problems to them in a not-so-stealthy way of enabling yourself to unload your burdens on someone else in the name of sharing.

Strive for no career at all–nothing great will ever be associated with you. Be content helping a few people for a little while instead of trying to impact the most number of humans with the least number of dollars. Be glad that you are a nobody.

The joy that you are discovering as you get to know Christ–really know him–for the first time–this is a deeper, more abundant and constantly flowing kind of joy than any of the selfish, stolen moments of transient pleasure that the flesh seeks out. The company of others who truly care about you is to be cherished above anything else on this earth–don’t sell this out for the sake of validation and adoration from a bunch of people who not-so-secretly despise you or care nothing for you but are willing to offer up praise for various mercenary reasons.

Being

Being. Remember that fellow in Easy Rider–was it Peter Fonda’s character? who said he was perfectly happy who he was, and had no desire to ever be anyone else? While Jack Nicholson’s character made some crack about wanting to be Daffy Duck…

But then, you think about yourself and who you are and who you’ve often dreamed of being. Everything washes over in waves of these polar opposites–some days you wish you were anyone but you, and other days you really can’t imagine having been or ever being anyone but you. You assert that you are clearly a man and could never possibly be a woman, but there are days when the life of being a woman seems the only correct way to be to snag a spot in the pantheon of eternity–God and Jesus will engage as they will with their kingdom in relationships that are clearly such that all who are saved will be more female than male for all of eternity. A voice quickly cries how absurd this is, and how utterly nonsensical it is to see God and the Spirit and even Jesus post-resurrection as being gendered. Except, there is something to be said for the qualities of the masculine and feminine when they are fully realized in loving, peaceful ways, and expressions of love between men and women are such that there are no power plays. In the almighty eternal, the great by and by, it seems like being an asshole or a bitch won’t get you so far, but being magnanimous and abundant in love will make a lot of sense.

Perfection

Perfection. Is it over-rated, a flame for you the ugly moth to die upon, or a gorgeous composition to be admired and respected from afar? In every situation, every group dynamic, you will encounter the individual who is most perfectly human. He or she is generally easy on the eyes, well-spoken, and well-liked. But, sometimes the perfect person seems to be a little shy and otherworldly–not accessibly shy, but living in a realm beyond this one, as it should be. Other times the perfect person will befriend you, the ugly, befuddled, messy, awkward one out of whatever sense of duty the person has to his or her ultimate sense of being perfect.

Which is to say, you are shined upon by a great light which, if you aren’t careful, can leave you feeling for days as if you, too, were endowed with the same perfect qualities as the perfect person, and you, too, were scheduled for a transmission to that plane of perfection. You start to look down upon all of those rather good-looking and pretty smart people who looked down upon you for so many years. Why, those folks were clearly like all of the rich, egotistical, fat and lousy cats in all the sermons, fables, parables and fairy tales who’d exulted themselves only to be made the least of these while you, the hairy ogre-ific beast was truly destined to become among the greatest of these!

But then, inevitably, life leads you back into the world of the real and the non-parabolic, and you are given the opportunity to see the good-looking and pretty smart people networking with that perfect person, who clearly and dearly loves them the most, and sympathizes and empathizes with them the most–and he or she will inevitably remind you why he or she paid attention to you in the first place. A light shined from the highest and brightest place you know will make everyone feel bright and lifted up for a day. A rising tide that lifts all boats will lift the sad little decrepit ones who’d languished in the backwaters up to a happy little vantage point where we sad boats can see the ravishing, setting sun.

And, this is good, and right, and necessary for humanity to continue to progress forward, and continue to occasionally produce these magnificent, nay, perfect ones. But let’s be clear: there is clearly a kingdom to come where you will be allowed to linger and not fall away, though you most certainly will understand once and for all that being smiled upon by the king or queen for a day doesn’t mean you’ve been invited to live inside the castle.

Essence shared

Essence shared. Light being turned on for me. A sense of warmth. A sense of love–agape love, of course. No need to resurrect old dreams for the sake of sacrificing new ones. Wistful longing for the perfect human narrative. A beautiful narrative arc, involving time spent at the beach, the mountains, the great cities. Time spent with friends who will be friends for life, and lovers who will still be friends when they are no longer lovers. But then, the one true love, and the old Victorian home, and the garden, and the quaint town that is charming in its eccentricity without becoming oppressive in its bigotry.

The hiccups and tragedies along the way are all poetic and beautiful and make for great poetry and short stories, but they never take you down into a dreary existence that owns you and turns you into a peasant. You can play at being a peasant on any given day, but there are no moments in this story where life has rendered you so poor or bereft of rich friends that you are forced to be a peasant without irony.

The essence shared with you is given in abundance, and not intended to be anything more than a charitable offering–like an extra half of sandwich when the giver is too full. You would be a complete fool to do anything more than take eat the extra sandwich half.

There are long days, though, when you never thought that being an adult would be so long and full of lonely moments. There are days when you can still imagine what a promised dream of everything used to look like.

From where I sit, little has changed

From where I sit, little has changed. This could be due to the way that I have arranged my life. I’ve made it so that I could have all the things that matter to me be in front of me daily, and I’ve removed almost everything else. I have my family, my books, and writing materials. There doesn’t need to be an endless exploration of new restaurants, new live music venues, new bands, new movies, new beers, new wines, new natural pharmacopoeia, new places, new gadgets, etc. I maintain the same boring wardrobe, year after year, swapping out a similar item for one that has finally worn itself out. My weight stays the same. I don’t get caught up in new hobbies or find new social issues to get me worked up enough to volunteer and write letters. In all that has shifted and changed about me since college, I am more or less back to being the same person I was in college when left to my own devices. Slowly, but surely, I would stop the excessive drinking. The need to discover new music would go away. The need to be out exploring would slip aside. I would be left with my thoughts and my books and my computer with a blank page inside a word processing application open, and I would write whatever needed to be written, then go to bed.

Am I completely happy that I haven’t achieved phenomenal personal growth, and have become some stellar example of humanity? I don’t know, probably not. There is something to be said for forcing yourself to be pushed greatly outside of your comfort zones to the point where you are being a distinctly different sort of person. There is also much to be said against such a thing, when it is done for the sake of instant gratification of the immediate attention of others. I would change one thing about my daily routine utterly and completely if I were to become completely convinced that doing so would make the world a better place for someone else. If I knew that writing a letter to the President every day would eventually create some kind of cosmic flow of information running counter to what appears to be most of his way of thinking, and it would eventually disrupt his thinking to the point where he became a more compassionate, empathetic individual, I might do it. But I don’t know that writing a letter every day would do much of anything at all. I don’t even have enough evidence in my soul that would allow me to do such a thing on faith.

Surely, I would benefit from at least praying more every single day at a set time in a set way. Every morning, when I wake up, prayer of a certain kind. Each day at noon, evening and prior to bed. Prayer has never been my discipline, though, but writing has. If I could be so bold, I would suggest that at least some of my writing is more or less crossing over into the world of prayer at times. I feel like I am eventually communicating with a resource that is bigger than my own brain, once I start typing and thinking and flowing long enough.

If anything at all has changed about me, it’s a tendency to be much more circumspect when it comes to making predictions about the future. All bets are off for my future, both in whatever I will go on to become after this midlife round of school, and in attempting to assess what will happen with the world in general–be it because of this unpredictable President, or due to an increasingly fragmented society that seems more and more inclined to insulate itself in a tribalistic fashion. If you don’t think exactly like I do, I don’t want to know you–I’m going to go off and start my own political party, found my own church, and I will leave those groups as well if they start to shift in ways of thought that I don’t 100% agree with. Forget about our hyper-politicized world of people being rabidly polarized as liberal or conservative–I think that we are witnessing sheer fragmentation that will inevitably either result in millennia of chaos or it will be all completely patched up and become controlled by the Antichrist–whoever comes along to become perceived as the One who can save us all from certain destruction.

Did the world become too big again?

Did the world become too big again? The very act of running into a neighbor while taking out the dog or fetching the mail suddenly seems to be as epic as the Odyssey. Soon, the dread of the machinations of men and women with vastly superior intellects was a very real thing and not some imaginary phobia to be mocked and slighted for its absurdity. You’ve had clues that these things are afoot, too many times to count. Think of all the times you smoked dope and suddenly everyone in the room was talking to each other in some kind of witchy, demonic language and looking at you and giggling because you were outed–the one at the party who was yet uninitiated to the upper echelons of human/demon congress.

But, there were also many days where no dope or lack of sleep and food or extra cup of coffee, or anything, had to incite the certain sense that the entire room was intensely connected via a masterfully exquisite series of body language cues and codes that each person had rigorously mastered, and which you only had the foggiest notion of there being such.

Sometimes it’s clear that the secret language is shared only between the young, and there is a clue or two that you might have once been able to understand it. Other times, it’s all of the females in the room, or all of the individuals over the age of 60. But then, it can also be a group of white males who are blithely bro’ing it up betwixt each other, and you, the other white male in the room who is supposed to know when to smile, laugh and chime in accordingly is utterly lost and soon to be scowled upon for not having passed your White Male 101 cultural quizzes.

Stripped of all the variables that have changed throughout your life

Stripped of all the variables that have changed throughout your life, what kind of identity are you left with? Is the need to be someone or something in particular–the very need to identify itself–predicating the decisions that you make about what you study and who you try to be professionally? Could it be that those who are very successful at a given thing are first and foremost athletes of identity-crafting? In other words, those of us who could just as easily see ourselves being any number of people are the ones who will always fall short of amounting to anything in particular? But, is this necessarily a bad thing–or is it only a bad thing in the eyes of all who would cherish a strong will toward particular identification?

Be a man, man up, strive to become all of the the ideals of a man where you are still lacking in expression of them. Or, if you determine you are incapable of living up to these ideals, you must inevitably declare yourself as strongly identifying with some subgroup in the queer community. The individual who wears their identity on their sleeve proudly and loudly is not so different–be he or she an ubermasculine fellow or a proudly transgendered woman. Of course, we have room for you if you wish to identify strongly as a man, but you don’t want to be an ubermanlyman–but you must identify strongly as man-as-academic or man-as-artist.

In all of these quests to establish a most firm and certain identity, I’ve discovered how easy it is to disrupt the flow of being that I sense moving through me and around me. I am trying to put a dam up against a powerful river and hold fast to my dam in the face of a river that will inevitably burst the dam or find a way to flow around it. Wherever and whenever I have tried to pin down myself as “I am this and not this,” I have felt the pull of the Other to see how the Other is being, and learn from them. Even if I can’t be black, female, gay, young, etc. in the rest of this life, I don’t hold any particular reservations about being such a person in a future life or alternate universe. What’s more, in all of my quests to figure out what it is about me that is most generically and globally human, where I could find common ground with any other neurotypical human being on the planet, I inevitably come across the persistent urge to push that aside and look deeper. For the thing that I thought was a global human characteristic was something merely local and specific to my given time, place, culture, etc.

For me, it is most definitely an imperative to remove my sexuality and procreative urges, as well as any socially-constructed sexual visions of self that manifest themelves before me when I am seeking to derive a common core self of connectivity with others. This is not to say that the experience of being a sexual being doesn’t have its relevance and importance in determining how I engage with other beings, but I don’t think that sexuality delivers an optimal reading of what it means to be a universally-connected being. Any hint of sexuality will inevitably imply that the Other who is before me is being considered over and against a sexual desire–if you are not someone I would ever care to know sexually, I will gaze upon you with significantly less attention and inevitably remove some of my spiritual love for you since you aren’t bringing something to the table that I desire.

This also allows me to begin to remove any sense of economics that I am still bringing to my relations with others. I merely want to know you to see if there is something I can get out of you. If I don’t see anything you can give me, sexual or otherwise, I am going to make you invisible and less than human. My sense of self worth is accordingly based upon what kind of intrinsic value I bring to the table when I engage with someone–what can I do for them? If I have nothing to offer them that they would need or want, then why should I bother with them because I know they will soon reject me once they discover I have nothing of value for them?

This series of engagements that we make with others multiplies itself until we have conveniently formed a society where someone can successfully obtain multiple resources at the expense of many others if they have created the illusion that they provide something more useful and valuable to the humans in their force field. When all of the emperor’s new clothes are removed, we see clearly that most celebrities, politicians, athletes, artists and musicians bring very little to the table that is of any great value to the health and well being of our innate selves. They gratify us, entertain us, and perhaps make us feel safe or more powerful than we really are, but they are actually just holding empty decks of cards that they’ve managed to convince enough people that these cards are of some value.

If identities we form for ourselves are mostly charades, and if most of the stuff we convince others has no real value beyond the value that others arbitrally assign to it, then who are we really, what do we have available to us in this life that is of real value?

There is, perhaps, very little “stuff” that is “out there” which is of any great value at all. If you are willing to accept even for a moment that your mind is really just a part of a greater, omniscient Mind, and that when you die, you will be reabsorbed into that greater Mind, then most any sort of knowledge of factual information holds little value, as it is already known and held by the larger Mind. If you can’t accept this, and think that you have to keep the fire of reason burning for you and your little family in the event of a major disaster that sends us into the stone ages, then you should be asking yourself if it’s really that important to continue to possess such knowledge, if there is no greater Mind or afterlife, and we are but one example of how nature can manifest itself to better know itself–the point is, somewhere in the universe another collection of sentient beings will reboot and become self-aware again and build repositories of knowledge. There is no need to frantically secret away scraps of information like a squirrel gathering nuts.

The only valuable thing that seems to really matter is the event of the engagement itself between to human beings who are truly connecting their selves together. In the moment of authentic engagement, love abides and petty self-preservation and self-aggrandizement dies. All of the other moments that happen, where you are merely stuffing yourself full of entertainment and food and drink, are simply you using the world around you to blindly maintain a self that will soon be dead and forgotten.

The best way to live out your life, then, is to seek out engagements with others that are authentic ones–where you are truly connecting with the other person and not just halfheartedly listening to them or nodding along to get whatever petty thing it is that you are attempting to extract from them to satisfy your flesh. Everything except authentic engagements between others will be forgotten. If you seek out a series of authentic engagements that are violent and destructive, then that is the kind of universe you will inhabit for eternity.