So you are thinking that maybe this is actually "IT" -- This is it huh? really? How do you feel? Shall we cue "American Pie", by Don McLean... Quixotic moments call for some deeper reflection, Wait... What was that song about anyway? Let's not worry about the nuance. Or, is the answer actually concealed well below this?, deep beneath the noise? I can't suppress this image of a Habitat of monkeys in the zoo, clinging, grooming, completely dependent upon their care-givers. How about just the "outro", Yes?
"I met a girl who sang the blues, and I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play."
Were you troubled that the grocery shelves were bare?, No frozen pizzas?, No Frozen Burritos?, No More eggs? As if the Grinch arrived last night? Were you the Grinch who snatched up everything just before an elderly local got down that aisle? Shame on you!
What's your reaction when Grub Hub wont deliver? What's your next move? How have you prepared? Now Cue a single monkey screeching in the cage -- and soon all of them are making a racket. Perhaps it's Time to reflect upon something important. You didn't want that frozen burrito anyway. Did you.
Our Path, Way, Route, Channel, or Road, guides the natural order of the universe, as much as we humans can discern. The Nameless concept of "Tao" will reveal itself with study -- Our true potential for individual wisdom.
Laozi in the Tao Te Ching tells us that "Tao" is not the name of a thing, but it is the essence of the natural order of the universe, which would naturally be "difficult" to circumscribe to a name as with an object, like pizza. So nouns fail us. Tao remains eternally nameless, because it is non-conceptual. Tao is evident in ones being of aliveness. Unlike boundless named things, "The Way" or "Tao" remains elusive, or even embedded, but not revealed without intense reflection upon what remains un-identifiable. But we seldom pay attention to such things. Who has time to pay attention? Oh shit! you will now...
Whatever your Tao means to you, I find that when the shit hits the fan, a Oneness with things we've perhaps forgotten to touch or reflect upon begins to resolve into view. For a few, this focus brings to bear many new truths about the nature of the universe. Truly.
When Mercury is in Retrograde, I generally retract to an inner place where I can duck in reflection as calamity whirls up to gale force. It has happened far too often that at this Celestial whirring, things begin to go off the rails. I'm not talking about the inconvenience of a cancelled rock concert, or an emergency proclamation preventing gathering. These suck, (of course) but they are just symptoms of a larger calamity. Sigh... When Mercury begins to move backwards as it did from February 16th to March 9th, I keep my head down. I think of a lawnmower, and this is not a great time for wee blades of grass to stretch skyward.
I may be disappointed with effects of sweeping changes to "my" daily life, but this too shall pass. What is surreal about new austerity, is the way each individual comes to regard themselves from within this tempest. I find that most, if all people become upset by the sudden dynamic shift from being the center of one's universe to being somewhat less of a unique snowflake. When we suffer individually, as with a broken bone -- We lament the injustice of our circumstance. When we suffer en-mass, (and as sympathies dry up)... we tend to look within for strength.
Today I looked around at the flippant shrugging "Ah Well!..." attitude of some neighbors and then sat quietly in that uncertainty. Like most, I would hope that we all become as immune to a virus, as we have become complacent with our lack of camaraderie. The simple truth is that we will have to all do some soul searching to find what was important before we all became smug in-compassionate self absorbed consumerist individuals. Living the Dream.
The Tao of apocalypse teaches us that like fungus, we are all interconnected below the surface. One seething wet messy organism tucking limbs under it's covers. Today we will begin to regard our healthy comfort above all else. Funny how yesterday you just could not believe that you'd have to wait two whole days for your On-line order to arrive, and now we hoard toilet tissue. Comfort. The funny thing about comfort is that being comfortable is a myth.
When Mercury Fires up that celestial lawn-mower, and the shit hits the blades, what is important is the same thing that it was well prior. Somehow this was occluded by the milky white spoodge of consumerism. When the music stops and we all scramble for a chair, someone is left out without a place to sit. Please let it be me. When the bubble pops, and we all stop agreeing that mass consumerism can go on forever... The only things most people contemplate, is, "Getting Back to Normal". "Normal". "The day the music died".
Last week a young friend of ours was crossing the street when he was struck by a turning driver. He would die in the hospital a few days later. He was the sort of person who could resolve with eloquence and a few choice words this very moment we are in today, But sadly he won't witness our petty dialogs. He was uniquely tuned-in to that other layer of our virtual existence; The layer with substance... The one beneath our surfaces. This beautiful person won't worry about online orders, waiting lists, and rationed hand sanitizer. We will miss him, and this profound personal sense of loss pulls back the curtain on the charade in which we all participate. We tend to think of ourselves, rather than community. Gathering into our towers more toilet tissue, hand sanitizer and a hand-gun, now cowering behind a stock-pile of canned goods -- Instead of calling our neighbors and friends to see how we could be useful. Instead of reaching for a larger purpose than ourselves, we duck and cover. When we lose family and friends as well may happen, To peruse someone's personal belongings after they pass is revelatory. What sacred few things remain which we cannot take with us. What appears more important today than anything else, is how you've left things.
When My time comes, I want to be beautiful. Not attractive -- But well regarded. Today I think I still have some work to do.
Slow the tempo, and cue the music, "And good ol' boys were drinkin whisky and rye, singing this will be the day that I die".
We are an amalgam of our reflected behaviors, and mimicry, we share a playlist, wear the same styles, emulating celebrity behavior as benchmarks for our social grace. We are all beige buoys floating, yet loosely moored to the earth, clamoring & complaining when the waves mount. We bob and bump each other, as we now practice "Social-Distancing". What we learn in turmoil is the weight of what we once took for granted. What was once "ordinary" is now nostalgic. Now, it seems, we can control less of our collective destiny, so we return to comfort, as a our pinnacle goal. Sanctuary.
Travel has always been the ultimate social lesson for me. Exposure to unique lifestyles and places builds equanimity like a funeral for a friend. We leave our shoes at the door to the temple, and so much other clutter, and cross-talk. This White-noise which was preventing us from hearing seeing and being, is cleansed through the lens of travel. Travel is what we will miss the most when we are housebound.
You can still travel to the woods, the park, the railroad tracks, the lake, the ocean, the yard, and even the porch. You can walk, run, and ride places, and see things, and as a stillness takes over, as it did in the towering canyon of our city after Nine-Eleven, we will begin to see, feel, and taste things differently.
This desolate moment will soon remind me of Raymond K. Hessel's run-in with an apparent lunatic in the book Fight Club... should one survive the barrel of this gun, the next day will be outstanding! To quote a great read: “Listen, now, you're going to die, Ray-mond K. K. K. Hessel, tonight. You might die in one second or in one hour, you decide. So lie to me. Tell me the first thing off the top of your head. Make something up. I don't give a shit. I have a gun.
Finally, you were listening and coming out of the little tragedy in your head.
Fill in the blank. What does Raymond Hessel want to be when he grows up?
Go home, you said you just wanted to go home, please.
No shit, I said. But after that, how did you want to spend your life? If you could do anything in the world.
Make something up.
You didn't know.
Then you're dead right now, I said. I said, now turn your head.
Death to commence in ten, in nine, in eight.
A vet, you said. You want to be a vet, a veterinarian.
You could be in school working your ass off, Raymond Hessel, or you could be dead. You choose. I stuffed your wallet into the back of your jeans. So you really wanted to be an animal doctor. I took the saltwater muzzle of the gun off one cheek and pressed it against another. Is that what you've always wanted to be, Dr. Raymond K. K. K. K. Hessel, a veterinarian?...
So, I said, go back to school. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you find a way to get back into school.
I have your license.
I know who you are. I know where you live. I'm keeping your license, and I'm going to check on you, mister Raymond K. Hessel. In three months, and then six months, and then a year, and if you aren't back in school on your way to being a veterinarian, you will be dead...
Raymond K. K. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you've ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your life.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Profound is what death is -- And like most tragedy, a sense of the profound undercuts our sense of self ...substituting in a bit of Tao. We all struggle to explore something larger than ourselves, something compelling, the reason we are here, doesn't fit into the tidy boxes which bind traditional religious faith. We can put a bow on our beliefs in the form of a giant temple, church, or synagogue, but the building is just a building, and the building is closed. Now that you are taking your prayer service from your living room, consider something larger than yourself. Consider wandering through the woods, sitting beside the ocean, walking through your neighborhood. Enjoy the sounds and the silence.
It's not the Apocalypse, but even if it were..., how would you wish to be remembered?
This is a time to be tolerant. But as one mighty institution once put it succinctly, it is also always a time to be, "helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent".
...In the Apocalypse, as in Scouting, boys and girls start with their 'best right now selves', and grow into their very best future selves.
Consider the Tao of the Apocalypse, and how you want to be remembered, be your best self -- and don't forget to wash your fucking hands.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.