Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clearing Out The Clutter

A man I know has recently been working around his property, clearing brush, trimming trees, cutting down the dying, the dead, and the unproductive, and opening space to provide himself with some breathing room and a better view.

I have been doing the same since becoming owner, and caretaker, of some beautiful acreage in the mountains. When property is neglected, left unattended, it becomes whatever it will become by virtue of its own untamed nature. However, in order to coexist comfortably with nature, one must be, undoubtedly, amenable to compromise. One must allow for the natural world to exist partially on its own terms, but require it to exist partially on the terms that he decides on for himself. To allow the full force of nature would prove to be overwhelming, and eventually threatening, to the sensibility and wellbeing of any individual. To succumb to the will of nature would not, could not, ever turn out for the better. But, conversely, to subjugate nature entirely to one’s own will would, ultimately, reduce a persons life to confinement in an over-controlled, finely manicured ‘natural’ prison of one’s own making. A gated community, if you will. A place where you pay other people to control the wild around you, to protect you from the natural world.

And so it is within us. It is important for us as individuals to clear the clutter, to establish open space on the inside, within our mind, within our soul, and yes, within our hearts, to eliminate the dead, the dying, and the unproductive, to provide some breathing room, to allow ourselves an unfettered and fresh perspective, to create for ourselves, as it were, a better view.
Clearing the clutter can mean moving away from addictions, from self-destructive behaviors, from stubborn points of view, from family drama, religious dogma, social conformity, intellectual bigotry, or ‘spiritual’ or political righteousness. It can mean letting go of baggage that weds you to inherent self-defeat. It can mean the severing of a lifestyle, or relationship. It is when we hang on to all the people we’ve ever known, and all the habits and concerns that we have collected over the years, that our lives, and relationships, become like that of the hoarder who ends up buried alive in the accumulation of his own unremarkable junk.

We must find compromise with our own nature. We must channel its raw energy into productive forms of expression, rather than enabling it to have its way within us, growing unencumbered, exponentially, like bacteria in need of antibiotics. We must draw parameters for growth and then cultivate that which we have allowed to take root. We must disallow the brush and weeds from gaining control of our lives.
Only then will we be able to co-exist with our own nature. Only then will we be free
of those we pay to help control the wild within us, and who we ultimately rely on to protect us from ourselves.

There is freedom in a clear perspective.
And in an organized life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Number 2 Hundred

I like that number. I like the way it looks, and I like the way it sounds. When I was younger, playing on different sports teams I always wanted to be Number 2. I never wanted to be ‘1’, or ‘#1’, or even ‘Number 1’. Being ‘Number 1’ would be way too much pressure. And it’s kind of a self-aggrandizing number anyway. But, actually, I wouldn’t mind being ‘Number Won’. That would be kind of cool. I like the implication of that.

Anyway, back to my point. I didn’t really want to be ‘2’, or ‘#2’ either. But I always wanted to be ‘Number 2’. I never could be. They don’t allow special numbers like that for guys like me. Maybe for LeBron James, if he wanted it, but not for me.
If I’d had to settle for ‘2’, or ‘#2’, I’d rather have been ‘two’, or ‘too’ even. Or better yet, ‘Also’. Being ‘Also’ would be awesome. ‘Also’ means ‘too’, which sounds the same as ‘two’, which actually is ‘2’.
Well, it gets complicated.

This is my two hundredth blog, ‘Number 2 Hundred’, if you will. I like that even more than ‘Number 2’. It kind of rhymes, it looks balanced when it’s written out like that, and it kind of rolls off the tongue if you roll the R’s with a foreign accent.

Over these past 199 blogs I’ve always tried to give you writing of some substance, or at least of some interest. It has often been introspective, sometimes controversial, sometimes silly, angry, or convoluted. I have expressed psychological and spiritual dynamics that you may, or may not, have agreed with, but you have at least had the opportunity to embrace, or reject, a point of view. I just put out there what I know, or think I know, illuminating the obvious. My truth is how I see a very complicated world, the picture through my lens. Your truth, obviously, is just as valid as mine.

I have given political perspectives that might have made you mad, that might have caused you to consider me to be a nut, or an ideologue (same difference, I guess), or even worse, a ‘conservative’. But, along the way, I hope you have been wise enough not to pigeon-hole me, or marry me to a specific perspective. That would be a convenient rationale to enable you to disregard, or even outright reject, anything of value that I might have left to say. That would be your loss, as the disregard, or rejection, of you would be mine.
Perspective is a living organism. It changes and evolves. At least mine does, and I hope that’s true of yours as well. And even though my thoughts have always made sense to me, I acknowledge that they may not have necessarily always made sense to you.
But the beauty of thought is that it takes thinking to figure it out.

In writing those past 199 blogs, I have, admittedly, not always been successful in my attempt to communicate my thoughts and feelings, and some of it might even be considered to be mundane drivel. But I can say, without equivocation, that I have always tried to write honestly. That is what has always been important to me.
Drivel, or even Profundity, be damned.

I will keep writing as long as you keep reading. And probably even if you don’t.

Number 2 Hundred.
And they said it wouldn’t last.

As I’ve already mentioned, I used to want to be ‘Number 2’.
But, if I were on a sports team today, I’d want to be ‘Number 2 Hundred’.
I like that number.
I like the way it looks.
And I like the way it sounds.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Ode To Spring

Here in North America Spring is rapidly approaching, there is an amorous arousal on the Continent, and with it comes the inclination, compulsion even, for humans to do what most humans do to ensure that we, as a species, continue to exist.
Friending on our Facebooks, and Tweeting on our Twitters.

I thought the weather was going to hold for Spring, when we had a weeks worth of high 70’s / low 80’s sunny days. But a snowstorm snuck its way in here a couple of days ago, covering the trees, and the ground, with a beautiful fresh blanket of sweet surreal virgin–white mountain foam. An image to die for. Nothing digital, or technical, in the visitation. Purely natural, a cool exhaled breath from the mouth of nature’s own magnificence. An unexpected pleasure, like a postcard from an old friend, or a kiss on the forehead from one’s lover. The snow lasted only through the next day, and then was gone, melting into the earth like a heart melts into the arms of a warm embrace; winter, having quietly exited stage left, with clear skies, and that glorious sunshine, emerging to enchant the restless patrons with its own particular brilliance.

This change of season has enabled the canoe to find its way out of the barn, and the fishing poles to jump into the hands of eager anglers. At least with an amateur like me the fish should be safe for another season. Portions of the day can now be spent, gratefully, beneath an ever-expanding sky. Lake-time like no other time, and taking time to love it makes for harmony in, and of, a far-too-often flat and dissonant soul such as myself.

The buds (not those kind) are popping out on trees and bushes like measles on a six-year-old boy. Some have already begun to bloom, our dogwood trees, typically, running well ahead of the others. The Dogwood’s know when Spring’s about ready to emerge. I think the Grand Designer may text them ahead of time, allowing them the pleasure of the first display.

Early morning time writing, after-breakfast walks in the forest, or cruising the pristine shore of the lake, working on the land, evenings sitting on the porch, then laying awake all night in anticipation of being able to get up early tomorrow to enjoy it all again.
It’s a good time of life for me. I’m very thankful for that.

But as I sit here writing there’s a buzzard perched on an old Oak branch just outside my window. Ironically, he’s probably waiting for me to die. Although some may argue that I’m already dead, Spring indicates to me otherwise. I can feel helium in my blood again, and life in my creaking bones. I’m hoping you can feel that too.

Not the ‘creaking’ part, of course, but the ‘life’ part, for sure.