Saturday, August 7, 2010
Perhaps I'm looking in al the wrong places, or just stranded in some indefinite shadow realm, but my life at this point seems very short on lightning strikes of insight, otherwise known as inspiration. Nothing I cross paths with seems to light up at my approach or to glow from my touch. Refreshing winds, filled with secret surprises, aren't blowing over the mountain of my heart. It's as if I am living in a space usually reserved for those exposed to holocaust, or to the death of a parent or lover or friend. However, as Robert Jay Lifton once pointed out in "The Life of the Self," such a space can also be inhabited by individuals who have permitted themselves to experience fully the "end of an era," personal or historical. God knows, I have a strong sense of that.
Even though my own front porch remains a safe haven, wherever else one looks there is so much suffering, misery, adversity. Seven million Pakistani lives destroyed by out-sized monsoon floods, with damage and despair everywhere. They can't even get in supplies of food and water. Yesterday on PBS, some of the unemployed in this country were interviewed, and believe me, it was tragic to watch. Their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits have now lapsed. There are no prospects for getting jobs and money has simply run out for many of these folks. How will they survive? They have been physically and emotionally and spiritually broken by the sickening prospect of a future that only promises not to be pretty. On the Gulf Coast, ever since the oil spill, many people have become ghosts in their own lives, wandering around in purgatory.
On the topic of wandering ghosts, I must also include our President, who has also taken to drifting around, from factory to warehouse, desperately trying to defend a stagnant economy without a single winning hand to play. Financial meltdown and personal train wreck have become America's new landscape. Still, you have to admire him for trying to hang something cheery on the wall, but more and more he looks like some wandering stick figure dressed in hospital pajamas.
In a crisis-ridden world, the Buddhists say, if you fall down seven times, you get up eight. But at what point is getting up, dusting off, and starting all over again no longer a realistic possibility? I understand, perhaps all too well, that "chagrin and dismay both siphon energy out of the mind," and so my lurching ambition these days has been to find a way to replace the sense of raw pessimism and devastating failure permeating our world with something more like propulsive inspiration, that will ripple through the larger environment. So far, however, as must be excruciatingly obvious, I am more like a fissure in a fatal crevasse, from which steam is escaping. Instead of climbing the mountain, I feel tied to its side like a flea.