Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everything Is Provisional: Make Your Plans in Pencil

KIND READER, PLEASE BE AWARE THAT A SET OF OLDER, UNPUBLISHED PIECES WILL BE POSTED OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS.  AS SUCH, THEY MAY SEEM TO BE OUT OF ALIGNMENT WITH THE SEQUENTIAL NATURE OF THIS BLOG BUT I AM INCLUDING THEM TO PROVIDE A FULLER SNAPSHOT OF MY JOURNEY OF REINVENTION.  THIS ONE WAS ORIGINALLY DRAFTED IN SEPT/ OCT 2012.
ran rhino


He that binds to himself to a joy,
does the winged life destroy;
But he that kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise                     William Blake

Woke up this morning filled with the zest and fire for life.  I'm not always that way, as much as I wish for it.  Some days I am hit by a version of existential dread, ennui, and futility.  Moods strike without warning and oftentimes without cause.  They just arise and fade on an undefinable schedule.  Quantum physics posits that nothing is solid, consequently in one's individual life nothing is permanent.  The material world is never stagnant.  This fact hit me like a sledge hammer, but also as sweet as the sun on a lily in my koi pond.  I was free (for this moment).  EVERYTHING IS PROVISIONAL.

I got it:  No book, no comfort food, no drug, and no person can really help or fix me because there is no solution.  It's called life.  But most people pursue the universal search for lasting happiness.  As usual this most obvious insight arose during an altered state.  It came up while I was driving north on I-5 through the summer oven of the Central Valley of California.  110 degree heat blasted my face, the sound system served up the trance music of Fela Kuti, and my analytic mind rested. I had escaped from the deepest nadir of my post-job life.

Foggy Man
To many it may appear that I've got it made and that has been said to me many times. (When I hear it I cringe inside and give myself ten emotional lashings--'What is your problem?  You’re health is excellent, your house near the beach in Santa Monica is paid for, you're financially secure, and most importantly your time is your own.') 

But that day when I looked in the mirror, abject hopelessness looked backSeveral people around me were experiencing emotional duress and reached out to me for help.   I absorbed as much of their karma as I could and then I hit the wall.  

Maxed out on emptiness, no schedule, and vague goals, ever patient Ran could absorb no more.  Clearing my schedule, the Animals circa 1965 called me, ‘We Gotta Get Outta This Place.’  My comfortable home and neighborhood were a whirlpool sucking me down.  Like kayaking when you hit an eddy, I knew that the only way out was to go backwards.  In this case backwards was to a place I knew well, where the waters were calm.  

Restoration waited at my favorite hot springs resort in Northern Cal. There I would immerse myself in the healing waters and be removed from places and activities that played in an endless loop; the coffee lounge where I write, the affinity groups I attend, the jazz clubs I frequent, the gym I go to 5x per week, and the never-ending traffic jams I drive in.  Out of that vortex and into the open space of mountains and hot springs, I could reconnoiter. There in the waters nestled between the mountains I would rejoin my community of fellow voyagers of the soul and spirit. 

Bunny Rugs & Third World, Oakland, August 2012
But arriving at Berkeley to stay for the night, hopelessness came back.  I lost the clarity and insight that the straight line of I-5 encouraged.   Somehow the spirit of my lifelong love of reggae music got me out of my motel and to an outdoor reggae festival in the Oakland hills.   Walking into the amphitheater and hearing familiar melodies of Third World, a huge smile crossed my face.  I was home among a crowd of strangers in a strange place, a community that bonded through a common passion.  Another mood shift.

Originally, I planned to figure out what I needed to do to start my engine again.   My answer book of the moment was A Unified Theory of Happiness  by Andrea Polard--Great book.  Full of useful info and exercises but I forgot it at home.  Thank god, it too was a crutch to avoid diving into the real feelings.  I surrendered to what was--a week of reflection at the hot springs. Polard would call it the Supreme Mode--harmony with the universe.

Before quitting my fantasy of retirement was an ideal life free of schedules, plans, and order: spontaneous free expression.  Barreling down that long, hot freeway something shifted:  I embraced the value of both pure beingness and planning Even when plans change, they provide the structure to live life positively, not aimlessly.  Just floating in the water letting it take me where ever, I am tossed and tumbled every which way.  But breaking out of that eddy and guiding my vessel on the river of life, has been tough.  The job imposed structure on my life.  Following that white line @ 80 mph, it hit me--goals are not written in stone but are provisional.  As is everything in the world.  And they have a place: goals got me to Berkeley and the concert, to the waters of Harbin, and the light in my soul today. But they can and do change.
300 miles of trucks and meditation

After soaking for a week, I set a course for my drive homeNaturally it was modified--ah, true freedom.  It was a great trip with order and surprises.  When I got back, I parked the car, unloaded the stuff, and returned to my life, a little older, a little calmer, and ready to engage our provisional world again with a plan and goals in pencil. 

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