These have been amazing times of late. Starting back on the fall colored cliff overlooking the Shenandoah Valley in Western Virginia, to a conference in
, the birth of
my niece, and many other things great and small I am amazed at what the world
has brought to me over recent days. Minneapolis
I am equally amazed; however, at the old me that still clings, riding my back, determined not to be thrown off into the garbage heap. It hides there, just over my shoulder, unseen but always felt. At the oddest moments it cries out for acknowledgement. Perhaps in the form of too many drinks, time spent with a stranger that would be better used for sleep or reading or walking alone along the water, failure to make it to the gym—or the fear that lurks in unexpected places. It screams out that my efforts are in vain and that no matter what I do I will always be a prisoner to that me that I do not love, that I can not escape, and that I cannot overcome. It demands attention be paid to the pages of the calendar that are long past, but on which memories are etched in blood, sweat, tears and more tears. It plays faces of dissapoint over and over in my rouges gallery of love thought right-- certain that the "successes" of the past are as good as it will get.
It seems that all my efforts to throw off my challengers, both those from the self and from outside, are futile. That I will never escape the things I have done that I regret, the people I have known that have dragged from my pedestal into the wallow of the mud.
Or perhaps it’s like the song. A journey along a river, to a place of refuge, joined by that past… my proverbial “..child of my first marriage…”. For me the reminders and memories of all that came before haunt me. The person that never left, that is still there, and that always will be. In the beautiful film A River Runs Through It, the voice of Robert Redford offers this: “I am haunted by rivers”—they represent for him the best and worst of himself and his life. This is a feeling I know—for the inner me represents the best and worst of me.
As my journey to
my own imagined place of holy inspiration and divine connection to all knowing
power—(not really Elvis for me, but for many he is) I am left to wonder about
the reality of the metaphor. That along
this road we can never escape that which we were—and are. For they are truly one person. If the field of physics is to be believed,
the past and the present and the future are all wrapped up into one tube. Einstein and Faulkner and every spiritual
guru who ever walked, coalesced into an oneness that spans time and dimensions.
I know this to be true, for that is what is revealed to me on the good days and the bad, which are often no more than a moment apart. A memory, a future, a joy and a regret—all sharing one space—one time—one me.
I know now, far better, how foolish it is to ever think that I have any chance of fighting away the parts of me that I don’t like or wish I could ignore. I realize that the angels and the devils will both live on my shoulders as long as I will live. For all of us the choice is a simple one. To lean toward the angels as much as we can, but not roll away in shame when the part that we don’t love or like calls out for its time in the sun. We don’t have to embrace the darker nature, but by understanding it—and loving it—we control it in the only way we ever can. To war against our own selves—it’s the height of foolish. You might as well chop off your own arm after a paper cut. But to embrace it, to understand it, grow from it—that is our challenge and, perhaps, the reason for both our competing influences in the first place.
I have often wondered about the ability of people to act against their own best interest. Whether in terms of choosing politicians to vote for, smoking, drinking to excess, or dropping out of school. Why is it that some fall prey to the fear and the self defeating choice while others work around and through and above it? The animals don’t do this. They follow one course—instinctively—to do what is right for their situation.
It comes down to this choice. How to get beyond those competing natures? How to live like the river, flowing with everything mixed in—shrinking and expanding, but moving despite what it’s made of. A river challenged by a rock—given the chance— will always win. It may take time, but the perseverance is pre-ordained. That which focuses on its purpose can overcome the obstacles. The river does not fight the rock. It does not attend therapy sessions, read self-help books, or cry to friends on Facebook.
It simply flows. Perfectly content to have as part of it all that it passes by and absorbs. Good. Bad. Indifferent. The rest of the story is written in places like
Niagara Falls or
the Grand Canyon. Beauty is created from the wearing down—from
the persistent flow—and the rock becomes part of the river. Carried on to someplace new, to form the
foundation of something different than what was. A new place for life—a river
delta—where once there was nothing but water.
If the rock were to fight—what would become of that? If the river were to fight? Instead, as part of a natural order the resistance is slowly worn down—and all becomes one. The same is true for us. When we accept and learn and forgive—we grow. And growth is the whole point isn’t it? “Loosing love is like a window on your heart”—and so is how you choose to look at your own rivers path across the barriers in our lives—watched over by all the parts of us—good and bad, saint and sinner. All part of one life—one soul—one universe—never to be fought or battled—only acknowledged, accepted, and loved. That is the true growth, the true creation and the only way to move past those bumps in the night that so often distract us from our power and our potential.