We don’t understand things by having them explained to us. Understand? We don’t see things by having them pointed out to us. See? We don’t hear things by having someone tell us things. Hear that? We live our way into getting all that can be gotten. There are no shortcuts to being alive. It takes as long as it takes for each one of us. And not one of us can get another of us there before the time of our arrival. And the time of our arrival is the time it takes us to process our experience in order to see, hear, and understand that experience. The closest we can come to something like a shortcut to understanding is offered by those who help us think through what we are experi-encing by asking questions for reflection and clarification along the way. But, even so, seeing, hearing and under-standing is our own work, and no one can do it for us. Maybe we get it, and maybe we don’t.
The trick is to not worry about it, to not try to “get” more than we “get” at any point in our lives—not to dwell on what we get and don’t get, on how much we get and how much is left to get. All of it is left to get. What ever we think we get, we’ll have to get it again, and again. Get it?
Where we are is just where we are. And, what we see, hear, and understand at that point is what we see, here, and understand at that point. We need slack. We need, “Yes!” We need to know that we are just fine exactly as we are. It all begins with being where we are, who we are, why we are, what we are, how we are, when we are. If we can sit with that, and relax, we can move beyond that into who else we are. But, we can’t get to who else we are by being commanded to go there. The rule is no pushing, no forcing, just being as awake, as aware, as we are.
We need an atmosphere in which we can be as awake and as aware as we are and find our way to our-selves, in which we can be who we are and become who else we are capable of being, who else we are built to be. The call is to ourselves and beyond ourselves, into all we might become. And we need a place in which we can hear, and heed, the call to be who we are and who else we are. We need a place in which to find our way to ourselves and the life that is always working to be born in us, and through us into the world.
A stream follows its path, but we are “worried and distracted (diverted, blocked, overwhelmed, dismayed, held back, stopped cold) by many things.” Or, so it seems. Streams are too. Streams have to keep coming back to the task at hand just as we do. It's all a part of the path. Nothing is wasted in the experience of life. This doesn't mean everything is necessary. Everything certainly isn't good. But, it is all a part of the production of our lives. Our chal-lenge is to fold it all into the experience of us, and we need help with that effort. We cannot do it alone. Perspective is the work of many eyes. Saving perspective is the work of many healthy, healing, loving, eyes. We come together with the right kind of people to find the way in and around, over and through the things in our path. But, the way is there and is to be found by eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that understand.
Our difficulties stem from the problems we make of our difficulties. From willing what cannot be willed. The trick is to “roll with the punches” and “go with the flow,” and understand what “the flow” is and exactly how to “go” with it. The ideal is the relationship between the stream and the stream bed. The stream makes the stream bed, the stream bed restricts, limits, contains the stream. Who is in charge? Who is in control? Who is Boss? Stream or stream bed? The questions are senseless. The stream and the stream bed are one thing. They are not opposi-tional, adversarial. We and our lives are one thing. The sooner we understand that and live in oneness with our lives—as the stream lives in oneness with the stream bed—the better things are for everyone, for all “sentient be-ings” everywhere.
We live in oneness with our lives by opening ourselves to the reality of things as they are and deciding what we are going to do with it, about it. How are we going to deal with it? How are we going to be in relationship with it? Given the givens of our lives, what does it take to be alive? What does it mean to be alive? How do we know? What is life for us, what is death? We have to know these things. This is essential knowing. How do we find our way through death to life? How do we bring ourselves to life in the time left for living? How much time do we think we have to spend on things that are not life for us?
There is the work of life and there is the work that enables the work of life, the work that pays the bills we incur in doing the work of life. Occasionally the two are the same, but not often. What is the work of life for us, and what do we need to help us with that work? What are the tools that enable the work of life? What assists, what in-hibits, what enables, what prevents that work? What is it that we do in bringing life forth? What are we doing when we come to life? How much of that can we do as we are doing the work that pays the bills?
The focus is on living the life that brings us to life. Life is the guide. Yet, it is also the pain and the agony. We pay a price to be alive. It is easier to take the course of least resistance, to leave the way, step aside from the path and say, “Talk to us no more of the Holy One of Israel”—that is, of the life that is our life to live.
Israel wanted to be like the nations, you know. And, as was the story in the Garden of Eden, forsook, the life that was its life to live in favor of the life it had it mind for itself. That’s exactly the temptation Jesus rejected time after time. “Not my will, but Thine be done!” Whose will? How do we understand the “Thine” here? “Thy will be done.” We hear it all the time. Who is the “Thy” here? How do we think of the “Thy”? How do we conceptualize the “Thy”?
We’ve always thought of the “Thy” as God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is. The Man Upstairs. How different would it be if we thought instead of the “thy” as the life that is trying to live itself through us? The life that is calling itself forth in us? “Thy will, not mine, be done,” then means that we place ourselves in the service of our life, and live to see, and hear, and understand what implications that has for us and the way we live.
Our life calls itself forth. I wanted a typewriter when I was in the 10th grade, which is when I learned to type. My life isn’t writing best sellers. Or even moderate sellers. My life is writing, forming art with words. And writing is an aspect, an extension, of seeing, hearing, understanding. My life is seeing, hearing, understanding—asking, seeking, knocking—wondering, probing, inquiring… And fooling around.
Fooling around brings things to light, to life, in a way that serious pursuit could never do. When we fool around, we aren’t doing anything in particular and are open to everything in general, and our life is leading us to the next discovery, the next realization, without itself having a blueprint that it is following. It doesn’t say, “Okay, he got that, now in order for him to get the next step in sequence, we’re going to have to get him to …” The steps aren’t in sequence. The next step isn’t the next step on the list of steps. It’s just the next step, the next thing to come along. Arbitrarily. Randomly. Capriciously. Reach in a hat and pull out a blue marble. That’s the next marble. But it becomes meaningful when we fold it into the life we have lived up to that point, and we incorporate it in the series of steps that lead us to us. But no one is leading, no one is following, Our life is just calling itself forth.
The moral here is: Listen to your life and follow where it leads, go where it takes you, no matter what. All our lives will not have the same outcome. Yoda was a highly advanced spiritual being at one with the Force and he lived in a hole in the ground. Luke Skywalker was a highly advanced spiritual being at one with the Force and he lived in a royal palace. We don’t know how it will turn out for us, but our eyes can’t be on the outcome. Where we live, hole or palace, cannot be important to us. What is important is that we follow our lives as they lead us along. We listen, we discern, we follow, and we stay out of the way, we cooperate, we buy a typewriter. But not to be a famous writer. Just to write.
Our dreams for our lives get in the way of our lives. Yet, they can also be the way our life gets our attention and calls us forward. No one goes seeking a nightmare, or lives in the service of the Desolating Sacrilege. Our dream can be our life’s dream for us, not our dream for our life. When the two are the same, it is beautiful. May we always dream of knowing what is important, what needs to be done, and doing it.
Our lives will probably not be what we wish they were. Will not be what we have in mind. And, they will be fulfilling, completing, satisfying. And, they will ask hard things of us. We will wish they were more fun, easier, more enjoyable. But, we would not be able to walk away from them without paying with our zest, vitality, joy, exuber-ance, enthusiasm, spirit. We cannot part with our lives and feel anything like being alive, no matter how much of the high life we are living, no matter how often we say, “Ain’t this the life though, Flo?”
Once we realize that things are not right with us as they are, we take up the search for life, of coming to life in our lives. How do we shift over into life? How is that handled on stage and in the movies, in novels, in biogra-phies? In interviews of artists, writers, and poets and people who “find themselves” in later (or earlier) life? What is that process? What is involved in the movement of life among the living? How would we research the question, “What does it mean to ‘be alive’?” Do it. Research the question. Become an expert. And apply what you learn to the living of your life.
Who are the most alive people you know? Interview them. Ask them if they are consciously, intentionally, alive or naturally, accidentally, so. Ask them if there was a time in their life when they “woke up,” or were awak-ened by the circumstances of their lives, and began to live deliberately, with awareness. Ask them what they would recommend to people who wanted to come alive in their lives. Ask them all the pertinent questions you can think of. Tell them you will call them up if you think of something else to ask. Invite them to call you up if they think of something else to say. We are learning to align ourselves with our lives, with the lives that are waiting to be born in us, to come to life in us, and bless the world. The blessing is the world’s. Not ours. Our lives are out gift to the world. And we are here to see that the gift is delivered.