67 bar rises 29.61 0mph SSW dew-point 62 Beltane, cloudy with broken skies in the west and south
Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon
Freud said life focuses on love and work, with death a constant presence. Not a bad summation. When love and work go well, life becomes flow, a stream of activity, purposeful and engaged. If love goes well and work does not, both suffer. If work goes well and love does not, both suffer. Daily life may exist in compartmented locations work at the office, love at home; but, the psyche does not know these compartments.
Wherever you go, there you are. An old AA slogan, and an apt one. A person close to me is having trouble at work. The often contradictory demands of more production and more customer satisfaction have ground them down and created a situation of anxiety. The psyche does not know just work, so this person suffers from sleeplessness and angst. They find themselves spread on the Promethean boulder with the vulture of expectations tearing at their flesh. The solution that works best for them manifests itself in trying harder. More shoulder to the wheel. More nose to the grindstone.
But. Letting go, releasing the grip a bit might produce more pleasing results. Easing up, relaxing and focusing on the work itself, the joy that lead them there in the first place might help, too. In this person’s case love does not suffer, at least as far as I can tell, but the pain they suffer comes home. I know that much.
Just realized this morning that I leave for Joseph’s graduation in one week. And I just got back home a day ago. Geez.
Woolly brother and cowboy artist, Jim Johnson, has an ongoing project he calls The Wildness Within. His meeting is coming up next week and he sends along three questions to get the meeting started:
1. When was the first time that you remember thinking about the wildness within you?
2. Who or what are some of your wild influences: people, places, things that are active in your life today?
3. Have you ever had the urge to run naked and not cut your hair?
I e-mailed him back with this much answer: I have run naked and not cut my hair. Ah, the sixties. More than once, in fact. Amazing what a little LSD, psilocybin or mescaline can do for the inhibitions. There was that time at the University of Chicago…
Jim’s project is important. It goes to the heart of much of what I do, too, though I approach it in a very different way. At bottom wildness is the natural, the unfettered. The Tao as it moves through and in the 10,000 things. To contradict what I said above both love and work constrain the natural. As core elements of civilization, love and work are the ties that bind us to cultural expectations. Thus, love restrains sexuality and work restrains unfettered, impulsive action.
So, in one sense, to ask Jim’s questions is to ask what urges you to break loose from the invisible, Lilliputian threads of norm and morality? This is, or can be, a frightening question. Any tendency to cut away culture’s silken web can, like the spider’s prey thrashing, bring the venom to you, result in the wrapping round you of a cocoon that binds your every movement.
Wildness, in the radical sense of natural, is the Tao. Taoism teaches conformity to the temporary conditions created by the movement of heaven, that is, the creative engagement of the Tao, yin and yang in pulsing, creative action, action that races through us and through the elements of the world around us. Thus, Taoism teaches conformity, not to culture, but to wildness, the unrestrained press of nature against anything that would constrict it, channel it, dam it.
These are hard words. It is easy for the weight of culture to act as a hammer against the anvil of the day-to-day, flattening and shaping the Self until it becomes an obedient tool, rather than a creative force.
In reply to Jim’s first question, I answer the first stirrings of the over against, the for Self and against expectations. These happened for me around junior high, or perhaps before, when I resisted Mrs. Thurston, our elementary school principle, who came around during the lunch hour, “Have you eaten all your peas, Charles?” Or, that time with Mr. Gross, when at the age of six, I answered his, “I don’t allow Democrats to ride in my car.” with a request that he stop the car, at night, in the country. I would get out. Or, perhaps even further back, when my parents were told I would never walk again, that the polio meant I had the life of a cripple ahead of me. My little body, so young and so wild, so unrepressed by parental or medical expectations, said, No, I learned to walk once, I can do it again. And did it.
As to his second question, wild influences now, the first and strongest is the Tao. The second is Kate, who allows me, encourages me, to follow my Self wherever it leads me. The third, or is it the same as the first, is my Self, who draws me along in its wake, prodding and pressing. Another way to say this is living into my Buddha nature. Another wild influence, with long, strong currency in my life is the radical approach to politics, to day-to-day life I began at a conscious level in the first years of college and have followed up to this day. Emerson, in that vein. Thoreau. Muir. The Romantic poets and novelists and painters. The Hudson River School painters. The Symbolists. The Pre-Raphaelites. The Arts and Crafts movement. Art itself. The phrase Ars longa, vita brevis. Rilke. Rumi. Hesse. Ovid. Goethe. Lear.