Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Toward Freedom XXXII

Nothing, Nowhere, Nobody

Big locks on a strong door might as well be painted in day-glo orange, with an accompanying sign that reads "Valuable Stuff Inside." Save time and hand out engraved invitations to every thief, vandal and raider in the neighborhood. Big fancy tombs in Egypt were plundered before the concrete had set. The excavated materials landed on top of other tombs, hiding them so they could be dug up thousands of years later.
    Sparrows know better. There is nothing obvious about a sparrow. If you aren't strong enough to win the fight, then blend in. You can also use subterfuge: paint phony locks on a door, light it up, sprinkle some tidbits around inside. "Nothing unusual here," people will say, and then they'll leave.
    The real action is around the back. Nobody ever goes here. The grass grows thick, leaves gather in the corners, the windows are cobwebbed and dusty and the doors are all weathered wood with rust making it obvious that they haven't been opened. Just another forgotten alley. Putting guards here would be futile advertising. Nothing to see. Move along.
    Not everyone is a walker of the main routes. Some notice narrow branching paths. Like cats, they wander behind, under, inside, on top of, following their noses or whims. Some believe that anything not expressly allowed is forbidden. A curious nose might pursue a scent, nudge a door, and find that not only is there no guard but there's not even a latch. Others take the approach that if it's not locked, it's open to all.
    What do we do now? The nose is inside the door. Using force to push it out just increases the curiosity factor: what's in there that's being so obviously defended? The better answer is to cede the territory, absorb the blow, giving no obvious signs of alarm or distress. The curious nose finds only common plants, abandoned objects of no value, and turns around.
    Attritional filtering accounts for only so many. Truly persistent explorers push on against the defenses in depth, be these the Amazon jungle, Antarctic glaciers, or artful misdirection scattered about a garden. What remains attractive in such a place? I don't know, but it shouts "Failure!" at the top of a voice that is heard only by the sensitive. Maybe that voice acts as an attractant for some.
    The coco de mer, fallen from the tree into a hostile ocean, simply drifts, defenseless, tough and small enough to ignore the battering whims of the waves. It's easy to ignore. Eventually the storm subsides, the invader loses interest, and the hard kernel floats away.
    Once in a while there's an extra-persistent one, tapping on the hard nut. "Hello? Is there anyone home?"
    "Nope. Nobody here."
    Eventually... bloom, or die. There is no such thing as stasis. As big as the Indian Ocean is, the coco de mer is likely to wash up on a shore someplace. Bloom, or rot. Is there a way to reach inside, without using a rock? Without shattering the nut, which is the usual response to obvious defenses?
    Grow, or die. Those seem to be the choices. Growth is death, in a way; to a believer in stasis, change brings up all those cliches about caterpillars turning into butterflies. Does the caterpillar know what's going to happen as it makes a chrysalis? From the outside it appears to be following a program but no one can get inside its mind. Does it hurt? Does it experience the repeated disappointment of previous attempts to change that simply result in more battering between wave and stone? The caterpillar does it once for all. Humans die many times. The record of failure is long.
    Yet the heart keeps beating. Simple animal life. Metabolism, movement, mentation as the sun goes around. Stuck inside the nut is... what? A tree? A human? A butterfly?
    Who enters? Who can enter, when any attempt is seen as an attack? But... here's this little tendril, come through a tiny crack. The tendril brings life. It also brings change! Close the crack! It can't be closed; to do so is to die... again. Inevitable? The cost of closure is simply too high. I can't do it any more.
    Fold up. Let it happen to someone else. I'm not really here. Nobody home but a simulacrum made of habits and mirrors grown up around with weeds and dust. Cede ever more territory to the God of the Universe, but he will never touch me! Wait... he already has. Back and forth.
    The issue is forced, without force. Purely choice: stay with God, or turn my back on him. I know how that goes. With God in here, is there any room left for me? Do I have any right to my own soul? If I do, how do I express that? I never had that right; anything I discovered and enjoyed was likely to be taken away, so I learned to take it away from myself before someone else did it. When God entered I ceded everything to him, as per instructions. Given this lifeline I didn't ask questions.
    Of whom would I ask? I know all the church answers. Ask God? That's asking for trouble, like asking the man with a rock if he likes coconut. God, however, seems to have no self-interest. At least, he doesn't put his interests before those of his people.
    What of other seeming invaders? If they make it through three levels of defenses and are still interested, what can I do? I have no idea what of myself is inside the automation and shields. The only way to learn is to try being there, letting go of the programs and seeing what happens.

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