Monday, May 24, 2010

Armchair Philosophy

Welcome to the newly redecorated Church of the Wayward Gypsy, where the bean is still (always) fresh. Come on in and get comfy.

Twice yesterday I made statements that took me aback. It’s not that I don’t expect to come up with profound wisdom every now and again, but these definitely left me feeling, “Whoa! Did I just say that?!” As I thought about both statements late last night, I realized that, although they’re not metaphorically compatible, they do kind of go together.

The first came as I was talking to a friend. We were discussing people who are still searching for the thing that is going to make them whole, the thing that is going to make them stand up and say, “This is me!” He mentioned that a certain friend of his is a good person but, “still trying to find her way.” To this I replied, “Some people are so busy hacking through the briers that they fail to see the path.

I can say this with certainty because I’ve been there. In my attempt to define who I am, I ran from everything I was - everything - only to discover, after years of struggle, that you can’t ignore the nature of the beast. Well, duh. The briers were there for a reason, they were trying to keep me on the path. But I was so pissed off at the prickles and scrapes that, in a blind rage, I charged into the thicket and began hacking away, completely losing sight (and thought) of the path, of ever having been on the path, and of where the path might be leading. In my mind, there was no path, only briars… and they grow back almost as fast as you can hack through them.

I’m happy to say that, these days, I pay no mind to the briers. Should one deign to cross my path and I don‘t notice in time to step around it, I accept the scratch and move on. You can’t fight your own path. It leads where it leads and, even if you ignore it, it will eventually find you. The journey is the thing.

Later, I stood at the stove, staring at a pot of potatoes that was taking it’s sweet time coming to a boil. I heard my mother’s voice in my head (why is good conscience so often my mother’s voice?!), saying, “A watched pot never boils.” I’ve always been stubborn when it comes to Mom’s advice, so I stayed the course. Finally, the water started to bubble. I had to laugh at myself as I muttered aloud, “See? A watched pot does boil. It’s just that I accomplished nothing while watching it.”

How often do we stand still on the path for no good reason? Rest is a good reason, and you know that’s not what I’m talking about! Maybe we’re hot and waiting for a breeze - rather than creating our own, or being thankful that we‘re not freezing; or it’s raining and we’re waiting for the sun - rather than appreciating the beauty of the rain and the melodic sound of it hitting the leaves; or we’re just staring at the damned boulder in the way thinking that maybe it will move on its own so we don’t have to clamber around it; or (worst of all, in my book) we‘re busy watching someone else on their path. We waste an awful lot of time simply standing still. There’s an old expression that goes, “Nothing hurts more than doing nothing.” Oy vey.

So, you see, as I pondered my statements while I drifted out to sea on my sleep boat, I realized that they are not mutually exclusive of each other. In between frenetic movement and immobility, there is the path. And the path requires forward motion.

Are you gonna wait for a sign? Your miracle?
Stand up and fight!
This is it, make no mistake where you are...

~Kenny Loggins, This Is It,

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