"It was so damn quiet."
I was struck by the last line of your, "How I got faith" poem. I took it to be an observation not so
much on the stillness in contrast to your screaming, but on the usual state of affairs when it comes to the reaching out that we do for meaning in the midst of awful moments. Faith, to most of us middle-of-the-roaders, gives precious little feedback. W
e pray and implore and curse the proverbial darkness and it's all so damn quiet.
We're encouraged to take faith, "on faith." Some organized religions attempt to pre-empt this
predicament by stressing humility and obedience in the light of our inherent inability to come to
direct terms with the mill that grinds us all out. These theoretical systems provide heuristic
constructs with which to focus our attention and activate our imagination as we move along. And we
tend to move along, as it was, smoothly enough for the most part, until the jolts hit.
Our lives hold all kinds of jolts, ranging from the gentle nudge to the most catastrophic
visitation of circumstance. At some point, we all begin to wonder. We tend to wonder in the ways taught to us by our backgrounds. We usually don't stray too far conceptually from the Family faith, especially if the jolts have not been severe or prolonged. When they are severe and prolonged though, a "stripping" of the psyche can occur; the bottom falls out; "tangled roots exposed," leaving the overturned cactus deprived of its mediating medium. You rush in as we all do to restore what was, but it's in
vain, isn't it ? Life tends to wear what happens to it.
Restoration is only a representation. The original state is history. So we wait and hope that things
will be the same after the crisis response is spent. But we know that all we've been able to do is to facilitate a natural "bouncing back" by repositioning the fallen plant and patting it's vital soil
gently over the shocked roots. Ideally, the same is done for the fallen psyche in order for the new
version to flourish. The individual is no longer sufficiently sustained. Wondering turns
into searching. And what are we seeking? I don't know the answer, Nitty, but I do know that I would
rest easier with some credible assurance that there is, indeed, purpose and maybe even a plan, although
I know that's pushing it.
he demoralizing thing is to have to consider oneself to be just one more random grist to the mill.
This, Nitty, is what I basically think to be so, but my soul would have it otherwise. Hence, depending
on what day it is, I'm either a sort of social Darwinist or a half-assed mystic in a mine field. I'm
really both, you see, and heaven knows where I'll be off to tomorrow--another day in the life of a busy
particle moving through life until it's done.
Are you horrified Nitty, that I sound so fatalistic? Yes, I am, in that I believe the perimeters are
pretty much set, but not ahead of time. Perimeters unfold along with the circumstances and their timing.
Luck has a lot to do with it. The main thing to all this, though, the thing that sets this system, if
you will, apart from real fatalism, is the emphatic lack of passivity. Instead, I see the individual
as being very active in the qualitative response to what life dishes out. Which is strange, because if
no entity or dynamic is up there or out there to watch or care--why should we? That's the
mystic-moralist part of me that emerges on even days I guess. The mystic feels (knows) he's connected to
everything else and also feels the obligation to behave in a certain "right" way just for the hell
of it. The mystic also strongly suspects that He is "it" just as you or me are "it." All this means is
the deity has digs within the person. No big deal; your unconscious knows all about it.
So that, Nitty, is what, at the moment, I've got to say about faith except, of course, the function of
faith which can take us a bit further. Shall we continue?
Faith is a function of what? Two basic ways of looking at this: as denial and as affirmation. The
former school depicts faith as a function of the need to deny the horrible reality of our random
aloneness in the universe. Freud saw the tenets and concepts of organized religion as just so much
poppy-cock with which to fend off our true destitute condition. Far from being a viable impulse, he
took it to be a bastardization of normal and proper development. Jung disagreed and therein lies the
sword of their split. Jung gave this impulse a legitimate seat in the stock exchange. He pronounced it
to be in the nature of the human being to reach out beyond himself and into himself. He affirmed this
need as healthy, and even dangerous to ignore.
This split continues in our thinking to this day. Especially, in this current culture, it is to lack
social judgment to demonstrate (except politically) undue interest in eschatological concerns. In
private though, some cannot stop ruminating on the ends of things as well as the beginnings. That leaves us, "I think therefore, I am," creatures trying to one up God who, in some of the stories,
said simply,"I am!" If God is "I am!" then who is me and who is you? Is you is or is you ain't? The best
I can do with this Nitty is; today you is; tomorrow if you isn't--then, you ain't.
et's get back now to you in your truck. Shit happens and the self is forced to contend. There are some
big variables in this scenario, such as the nature of the shit, the developmental niche and history of
the self, the make and year of the truck (just kidding), and so forth. Somehow you pulled off a
resurrection that night. Didn't you, after all, sort of rise up? Think about it Nitty? It's not that a
part of you rose above that other part of you to reach something else. You went down to your very
bowels (if you pardon me for saying so) pulled up the whole kit and caboodle, and took it to another
level. You didn't "choose" love over hate or good over evil; you acknowledged both as being YOU, thereby precluding the necessity of choice by simply embracing your condition with the fullness of life. We
don't choose life, Nitty. The thing is to live life even if it kills us, and it does; little by little
and then finally all at once.
In the meantime, and this is the important part, we can take revenge on this arrangement by living a
good life as defined by one's lights. Because, when all is said and done Nitty, we can name that tune
in three notes:
"You is it."
Yours in sacred confusion,
Copyright 1997 The Courage of Our Confusion. All Rights Reserved. Comments? E-mail email@example.com