Truth does not come wrapped in bright paper and tied with a bow, between two covers, nicely worded in sequential fashion like some wonderful Final Theory, which isn’t theoretical at all, but fully factual all the way so that that’s that, and there is no question about it. Truth isn’t like that.
Truth is all squirmy and slippery, and contradictory, and inconsistent, and paradoxical, and conundrumatic. So that the truer it is the less sense it makes, and you have to carry it around with you for days cogitating on it, poking it, and prodding it and turning it over in your mind, and the more you think about it, the more you see that its opposite is also true, and that doesn’t negate it, or cancel it out, but deepens it and expands it and enlarges it, and you find yourself saying, “Of course!” and laughing at the wonder of it all—which includes wondering why people take truth so seriously that they excommunicate one another and go to war when they should be laughing together and singing Pub songs.
Woody and I tripped up to Roan Mountain State Park to take in the Rhododendrons and Flame Azaleas on Roan Mountain, and I asked for directions to Carver’s Gap from an 80-something year old on the path from the cabin to the car. “Honey,” she said, “you’ll have to ask somebody else. I’ve been coming here all my life, but I only go where they tell me to.”
We don’t want to know any more than we need to. Carver’s Gap is somewhere. We know that much, but if someone else will do the driving, why bother with the details? Just get in the car and enjoy the ride!
It would be a different world if people were living their own lives. Most of what passes for life is a substitute for life, a surrogate for life, a replacement for life, a facsimile of life that depletes us and leaves us exhausted and empty. But, if we stay busy enough and tell ourselves to just do what we are told enough, we may not notice the emptiness and be “just fine” all our lives long.
The clouds kept the camera in the bag during the early part of the day, so I drove into the village of Roan Mountain, Tennessee and had breakfast at Bob’s Dairyland, and sat waiting on my eggs and toast among the locals who were already enjoying theirs. As I took in the crowd, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t have a chance with them. Better to keep my ideas to myself, discretion being the better part of valor, and all.
I walk among, live among people who cannot begin to understand what I’m saying. “Why don’t you talk to us about things we can understand?” means “Why don’t you tell us what we expect to hear?”, or, “Why don’t you tell us what we have always heard?”
For people to understand what I’m saying, they would have to reformulate their world view. They would have to un-think everything they think, and ask questions they cannot begin to ask. The gap is too great. It’s FM talking to AM. So, I don’t push the matter. Those who hear me hear me, and those who don’t hear me, don’t hear me. Those who are with us are with us, and those who are against us are against us. We have to do what is ours to do and let that be that.
“Some girls don’t like boys like me, ah but, some girls do!” The Sawyer Brown song wraps it up. Some people can’t hear what I have to say, ah but, some people can. So I say what I have to say and those who can hear it, hear it. But they don’t stop with having heard it, as though I’ve said all they need to hear. They use it as a spring-board into what else they need to hear. We all continue to listen for what else we need to hear.
Life consists of listening for what we need to hear, looking for what we need to see. When we hear it, see it, we know it. It resonates with us, and we have no question about that being what we need to hear, to see. We incor-porate that into our lives, make the shift necessary to accommodate what we have heard and seen, experience the transformation, and look and listen for the next thing we need to see and hear. There is always a next thing.
There is no final word, no Final Theory. We never arrive. We just stop too soon, are satisfied with too little. We go where they tell us to go, think what they tell us to think, believe what they tell us to believe, and are happy with that. But, we cannot quit. The path does not end. There is no settling down with this point of view, or that one, this belief system, or that one, this way of structuring reality, or that one. Here, in the world of how it really is, everything is off the table and up in the air!
No one has the corner on truth. Truth cannot be cornered. Captured. Incarcerated. Truth cannot be dissected. Examined. Exposed. Explained. Truth is not content, but process. It is not a noun, but a verb. We cannot talk about truth any more than we can talk about God. Or, when we talk about truth and God, we can only use words like “mystery,” and “numinous,” and “contradiction,” and say of both truth and God, “There is that which is true and that which is also true.”
But, not everyone can hear that. There are those who ask you what truth is and then answer, before you can, “The Word is truth!” And, that’s that. They say it because they have been told it, and believe it, because they have also been told that to fail to believe it is to go straight to hell and stay there through all eternity. Going where we are told to go doesn’t get us anywhere.
If we are going to get to the Land of Promise, we have to find our own path. We have to look in order to see. And it takes seeing to spur the looking in order to see. Something winks at us, nods to us, flashes across our field of vision, waves to us on the periphery, and is gone. From there begins the search. We don’t get to the Promised Land, we don’t find the Holy Grail, in chronological order, first this, then that, if-then-therefore. This is not a logical, rational, intellectual exercise. This is intuitive, instinctive, insightful, discerning all the way. We struggle to see and then, like that, grasp the truth of what we have always known without knowing that we knew, or are stunned by a reality beyond our grasping, and cannot help laughing, or crying.
When people speak from the heart—as opposed to reading from the script—about what they see and think, about what they have experienced and gleaned from their experience, about their lives, we all benefit. I am drawn to the places where the truth shines through.
This is the kind of talk that saves the world, honest talk, straight from the heart about what we have experienced and gleaned from our experience, and what has helped us most with our lives. We cannot get by on the strength of someone else’s experience, but their frank discussion of life’s impact can help us find our own way.
There is no formula. There are no directions to give. No explanations to make. There are no maps to the Promised Land. No one else’s path to follow. No nostrums, remedies, fixes, or cures. There is only life and living it. What helps? What works? A lot of people are hawking a lot of things, but there is no removing from us the burden of life and living it. What have we found to be helpful? What have we found to work? What enables, allows, assists us in living the life that is ours to live? In doing the work that is ours to do? What do we need to live the life that is ours to live, to do the work that is ours to do?
We crave certitude, certainty, explanation, structure, and we are called to step into the unknown, “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” What’s it going to be? We have to move past what we want into what we also want. We have to know what we also want. We have to open to that part of ourselves that wants more than we want. We cannot just go where they tell us to go. We have a voice—we have to listen to it!
My trick is to connect you with you and get out of the way. You might say that my place with you is to bore you so much with me that you turn to yourself to find what you need. I have to refuse to give you what you want. I cannot become who you need me to be. Only you can become that. I cannot, must not, usurp your power to provide yourself with what you need. That is your responsibility, and you cannot grow without bearing the burden, the cross, that is yours to bear, namely YOU. You are charged with the care and tending of YOU. We find our way in the company of those who are finding their way, but it isn’t the same way. We may drink the same water, but we dig our own wells. We all may wind up in the Land of Promise, but we find our own path.