"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Waiting for the Miracle

Baby, I've been waiting,
I've been waiting night and day.
I didn't see the time,
I waited half my life away.
There were lots of invitations
and I know you sent me some,
but I was waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.
I know you really loved me.
but, you see, my hands were tied.
I know it must have hurt you,
it must have hurt your pride
to have to stand beneath my window
with your bugle and your drum,
and me I'm up there waiting
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.
- Leonard Cohen

It seems as though some among us who are actively seeking their own answers are determined to seek their validation and enlightenment via mentors, sages, cultural shamans, or even personal saviors rather than through the experience of meeting the personal challenges required to win a hard-earned wisdom.

Perhaps it’s the genetic residue left behind from the village elders or medicine men, but it seems that, rather than finding it organically, many of us wait for answers from on-high; from someone who is "destined" to magically appear and “enlighten" us. It's as though we believe we're entitled to that miraculous revelation which then motivates us with "purpose" while illuminating both path and destination! Some choose to sit like an expectant child waiting for Father to deliver the miracle, as though the only fee required is idle patience! Pink Floyd: “Waiting for someone or something to show us the way.

Oh, to be that chosen Golden Child! I’ve been a believer of many things ranging from serendipity, to an internal voice, to something resebling Forrest Gump’s philosophy on fate. But each of us having our own personal Mr. Miyagi?

Mr Miyagi says: "Wax off, motherf***ah!"

For most mortals, it simply doesn’t work that way, and sometimes it seems that the Universe takes great joy in tormenting us for arrogantly believing it should! Ten years will eventually get behind you. If we’re not careful, we could indeed wait half our lives away slithering along, waiting, hidden in the grass of idle mediocrity.

Logically, this should be obvious but nothing human is logical. Beyond the stale, cliche platitudes repeated from books or TV (confusing the recital of someone else's quote for our own wisdom & enlightenment), we’re infantile in how ill-equipped we are for our own self-exploration! Rather than being taught to explore personal meaning, we're sucked into the Game of Consumerism, brainwashed into believing "stuff" provides a meaning to be taken seriously. Then, we're hysterically told our chronic Hole-in-the-Soul Syndrome is fake...but "Restless Leg Syndrome" is real! And, of course they're eager to sell you the pharmaceutical cure...for both!

To complicate things, our institutional indoctrination apparatus, the Ministry of Standards and Practices, works endlessly to distract, corrupt, and ultimately neutralize our natural curiosity by convincing kids that they are "irresponsible" or "immature" if they pursue a path of self-awareness or enlightenment; that they're antisocial or sociopathic if they somehow reject the assumption that the pinnacle of humanity is found via Wall Street!

If The Voice remains strong, the sense of "there's more" survives, and The Ministry's role as culture's Borg fails in its assimilation assignment, the entrenched status quo takes over to marginalize or, eventually, extract us from any meaningful role. We've seen repeated examples ranging throughout the "media" to Wikileaks and Julian Assange in recent months. The corporate and political power structures are working together to starve, isolate and assassinate his character so as to undermine and distract from the actual story. Ask what's left of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments how that's worked out!

There are a remarkable number who, sometimes even after years of trying, are unable to accept their demanded programming and simply withdraw themselves.  These are my people. Don't be mistaken in believing they're uncommon. But as we age and become more rigid, and even if we reject assimilation, the prospect of exploration leading to wholesale changes in life and philosophy can become overwhelming. Even after stepping onto our paths, we can end up frozen in bizarre conscious-comas; our souls trying to trigger new action but with atrophied spirits seemingly unable to respond!

Again, the seemingly simple and obvious fact is that, regardless of where we’ve come from, ultimately we ourselves are entirely responsible for who we are, and where we’re going. While that seems like simplistic common sense, and people generally embrace that sort of responsibility in their financial lives, our spiritual antennae are typically left in roaming mode. I believe that most are either numb, or desperately engaged in a tormented, silent search for a signal that's supposedly “out there” unaware that the path to these answers lie within and have little to do with any dogma bought and sold in the Sunday (or any other) Marketplace.

Limited guidance and shared experience may help, but no one can do the actual work for us. No one can dictate answers. No one can provide a manual or map. Any they could offer, even with the best of intentions, would be useless; they would be directions to THEIR house, from THEIR unique starting point, rather than to and from yours.

I loves me my similes and metaphors!
Furthermore, expecting divine intervention, especially via specially provided fate-based terrestrial saviors is a bit arrogant, don’t you think? It snaps me back to the hand-crafted snowflake self-image. When you dissolve the illusion of universal self-importance, it's necessarily deflating and by nature demands a mini-katabasis-- especially with someone playing the victim and under the assumption that the universe “owes” him for some perceived slight.

This whole process is devastating for someone ill-prepared whose identity is dependent upon their Blue Ribbon of Suffering. It's hard to be shown that we aren't any more divine than any of our six-billion neighbors so, perhaps, we should discard the “victim” placeholder, the expired Karmic Welfare Card, and commit to writing the story ourselves rather than waiting for someone else's script.

Mocking Your Own Voice

Realizing your own words, intentions, and assurances are trite, inauthentic, and insufficient is a brutal experience. I can tell you firsthand (and with multiple, recent examples) that nothing quite compares to the self-loathing, shame, and feelings of inadequacy that comes from the cold realization that your actions are suddenly and radically out of sync with your high-minded rhetoric!

I’ve seen this hit others and I myself have experienced both the long and short-term varieties over the years--as recently as September and December.

In my case, this is a generally a growth spurt and is usually preceded by a significant breakthrough or realization of some sort; something exciting. One from early '08 was particularly intense, happening in the months shortly following being fired from my last radio gig and committing to stepping out.

In each case the bar is raised. All the big ideas, plans, and grandiose proclamations suddenly stand in stark contrast to what is really happening. I mercilessly shred myself on a daily basis for a (properly) perceived laziness, hypocrisy and an apparent new willingness to embrace failure. I've concluded I am not doing nearly enough to live up to my own expectations and demanded action as accountability.

Enacting this “change” is much more difficult than imagining it, making it a long process. In a perfect world, our subconscious willingness to change our habits would stay in lockstep with (hopefully) evolving ideas and philosophies; our habits and attitudes would automatically adjust accordingly as we live, explore, and learn more about ourselves, the world, and our place in it. I’m discovering the hard way that this is not only Utopia-laughable, but its failure is apparently both accelerated and exacerbated by age!

My way out of these spells is in making sure to raise the bar and then sustain it by not allowing myself easy, familiar rationalizations, delusions, and excuses; demanding accountability. The vast majority of New Years resolutions are dead by the second week of the year--anyone can do something for a day or two!