Rip Van Winkle
Today the world is better than it was the day I was born.
Today there is more beauty, more abundance, more skill, more knowledge, more availability of wisdom. Today, peace is breaking out in widening arcs -- breaking against the shores of the crumbling bastions of violence, ignorance, and injustice.
Some tomorrow when I am dead, the world will be better still. The course of life and its increasing quality runs unsteadily, but inexorably. Hope will prevail over fear, as rational confidence is rewarded with more to be confident about.
The trajectory and narrative of my own life is such that I've witnessed epochal evolution. I will yet live to see change, more and more strange. All shifts, however surprising, turn toward increasing multitudes of civilized civilizations, emergent like crystalline forms that enhance the larger ecotonal ecologies.
I take no credit for any of this.
Oh, I'm part of it all. I hear the musicians, and I can't help but sing. I see the dancers, and I can't help but move. But everything that is good will transpire without me. I'm filled to overflowing with exhilaration and anticipation, but it's better sometimes when I'm hollow.
Only when hollow can I be sung, can I be moved. When I am hollow I echo your confusion of dismay and wonder. Strike me, and I ring like a bell.
Would you mind terribly if I slept for long periods, to wake again into the next transformed world, better even than my own pregnant dreaming? It seems terribly irresponsible of me to ask, I know -- but I've learned (yet I keep forgetting) that the fate of the world does not depend on me, nor is your happiness within my control.
I'm neither savior of the world, nor am I an ant conveying bits of leaves or the legs of bugs to my hive. What it is I contribute, I'm not sure. That's in the minds and hearts of those who receive. Probably, photons are invisible to the sun.
It's better, I think, that I spend my waking time with my eyes open, my wordless mouth open. My mind, my cavernous heart, open. Better when my stomach is empty, better if my skeleton is hollow as bird bones.
Do I, will I, also accumulate? Yes, I'm real, I live, I exist, and the dust of the world settles on my form and frame. Some sticks, and some flakes off. Some surfaces grow moldy. See this patch here? That's my résumé. That one there is my credentials. Here is the stain and design of my experience. This, the signature of my faults writ large.
If you see any of these things, you see the stamp and imprimatur of the world, but not me. I'd ask you to wash it all away, but by now if you did I'm afraid I'd fall apart or dissolve in your solutions. Can you see me? No, again it's silly of me to ask. By now all that can be seen is the dressing.
[It's mid afternoon, and I'm hungry. I have to go heat up my leftover enchiladas (chicken and mushroom). I'll be back.]
Where was I? Oh, I was just asking where I was, here between birth and death and sleep and wake. If you can't see me, I'm not sure I exist. Maybe it's just harder to see me in my wake. Yes, I'm sure that's it.
This discipline that we all partake of, this path that we together are following, sometimes it makes me feel so small. Yet what I ask is to expand to where I can be of no more consequence. To be a canopy of stars, to be nothing but room for you, to be the pool where you drink of yourself and are satisfied.
I'm nothing but a passage. But in my passing, if you hear me, let there be whispers of gratitude for what we did together yesterday. If you catch my shadow, don't fail to catch the light that illuminates us night and day. Of what there is of me to feel, let it be your own sensation, because tomorrow will be even more sensational.
I'll sleep again, and though I may wake up stiff, I'll loosen up. I'll stretch and yawn, and like every organism that's ever been, I'll ask of the day "What's in it for me?" and the day will answer as it always has, "Everything."
Tomorrow the world will make a perfect place for every misfit and each outcast.
Tomorrow's going to be a good day.
Still Point Aikido Systems
Austin TX, USA
Re: Rip Van Winkle
Thank you Ross. It's always a pleasure to read your columns. This one is very positive. It reminded me somehow of The Highwayman by Johnny Cash.
Re: Rip Van Winkle
Better a Jimmy Webb Highwayman than Zevon's "Roland," eh?
I always learn something from your comments. I didn't know about Urashima Taro before this, and found it a delightful tale. Very easy to see it as a Miyazaki rendering.
As always, thanks so much for the yama biko.
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