Friday, December 21, 2007


Glue and Effects

A friend asked me "How'd you get to be so danged wise?" in response to an Email.
Assuming that the assessment is in any respect true, the answer is quite simple. I cheat. I walk into every test with the answers written on my mind by the Holy Spirit.

Even giving that oblique reference makes me nervous. I think of cults, suicide pacts, congregations erupting into flame, people doing their best to hew to someone else's crazy line. What is left of me if God is that deeply involved? Why should I care about life? I've always been defined by my separation: I walk my own path. Right or wrong, I prefer making my own mistakes. This isn't so much an issue of pride as of necessity: there's so much bullshit out there, advice, catchphrases, endlessly repeated mind-memes and principles, that no one ever questions them. I guess there's even a chance they work for some. They don't work for me.

The truth is that if God weren't holding me right now, this second and all the succeeding seconds, I would myself erupt into flames of civil war. There are factions within me determined never to knuckle under to anyone and they will sink the ship rather than give up an inch or a compartment. I'm serious. I've lived with this for most of my adult life and have had to walk a very narrow path between the factions. Emotions, intellect, ideas, stability, reliability, principles, acceptance, invisibility waiting like a bunch of hair-trigger aunts and uncles to start a war if I stray too far into someone else's territory.

It is, I believe, about survival. Better to be a fragmented approximation of myself than to be wholly under some one idea's sway. Thinking for myself seems to require the multiple viewpoints, and so long as no one gains the upper hand there's some kind of balance. The problem has been the sacrifices required to maintain the balance. I live a lowest common denominator kind of life because I know that the displays of passion needed to push a course up the hills to accomplishment excite the parts of me that depend upon invisibility, and war breaks out. Don't even try it, because sooner or later the explosion will come and I'll be not only unable to complete what I started (as has been proven three times with colleges) but I'll get knocked back to someplace lower than the starting point was.

Now, none of this is really a problem. I live a decent life. The small gaps between territories do allow for some maneuvering. Sand sculpture occupies one such interstice, and is also aided by the impermanence. Sand sculpture leaves no tracks except for a few pictures, and anyone who has seen both the real sculpture and the images knows that the image is just a small clue. My secrets are safe hidden in plain sight, wrapped in sand. I have learned how to live this way. I am competent.

Life seems to want more than competence. There is within me a badly battered and yet still intact impulse toward... something. It wouldn't let me give up. It gave me nothing to really look forward to, either.

What does a fractured desert know of growing wholeness? What does a long-dry land feel as new plants start to grow through the hardened clay? I've learned how to live there; all of my skills are built in this assumption of minimum standards and any change, any crack, seems to announce impending failure.

So sanguine was I when I set out on this journey with God four years ago. I expected nothing but also had nothing to lose; if God turned out to be just another phantom solution, well, I'd bridged a few more months and maybe some other answer would come along just in time to pluck me up from the brink.

From what I've seen of religion, the good things that happen are attributable to God. The bad things are my fault, and it's up to me to keep God from becoming upset. This is why I have little to do with religion, the collection of code and tradition and principle that is wrapped around God, perhaps with the express intent of insulating everyone from His touch. Now that I've experienced His touch I understand the impulse. After I started feeling this touch I did what I always do: run. If God weren't real I'd still be running or I'd be dead. If God were the touchy, easily upset Tetchy Grandfather in the Sky that seems to be the Standard Model, I'd have been abandoned along the path years ago, left in the ditch with the other failures.

What does God want of me? He speaks to me every day, and holds me together. That seems to be enough for now. It's exhausting, living in an arrested war zone. Through trust, however, I'm learning to live with this.

What do I want of life? I still don't know. Beyond the miracle of still being here is another miracle for which still being here is a necessary precondition. This is the miracle of trusting God to teach me what I want. Wanting is, for me, a real problem because I know that as soon as I express a wish for something I will be ridiculed and effort will be put into keeping me away from it. I have to sneak up on things. I learned to live on the overlooked crumbs falling from the table. Wanting isn't safe at all, so God has to teach me how. That starts with the trust: Trusting God to keep the civil war damped so that the longer thoughts necessary to figuring things out can take place.

I discuss things with God. I cheat. He holds me and we uncover truth together. I'm still here.

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