Monday, October 8, 2012

The Shock of Transcendence

The Taoist weirdo.
What they never tell you, these philosophers and spouters of wisdom, is that, if you reach the desirable states that they recommend, you will have officially become a weirdo. You may even question whether your mind is working as it should. Transcendence, for instance, is quite alarming -- not when you manage it once, but when you finally make it part of your life on a daily basis.

Right now I am going through very difficult times outside of my home. I'll leave it sans detail, but it has been heart-breakingly rough over certain intervals.

That said, I'm not suffering much for it. I do wish things were better in this outside-of-the-home situation, but I find myself happy, otherwise. Sure, I would still love to fix what it broken, but I am not, in any way, feeling dragged down by it, in terms of my life. I'd rather these difficult things weren't so, but I do believe I have learned to take the advice of the wise to heart: to keep things in perspective and to give credence to those things that are truly important.

My wife is truly my best friend (some cliches are unavoidable, sorry) and my boys constantly bring me joy. I even love my dog. I have many wonderful people in my life. I have truly learned to put my focus on them. If I walk out the door headed to a difficult situation, I am put at peace by the idea of their presence in my life.

If people on the outside think I am a (insert insulting term here), what does it matter, if my boys, my wife, my friends and my family love me?

Simple, right?

An American weirdo.
My music and my writing and my teaching serve to soothe me every day. If the world ruffles my feathers, my "arts" always manage to smooth them down again. So I got that going for me (in the words of a famous groundskeeper).

Simple, right?

But, it does, I have to admit, feel a little like insanity, to navigate life's ship placidly through the kind of storm that has sunk the boats of so many other captains. I tend to feel like I should be more preoccupied with the bad stuff. This isn't normal. But this is it, right? This is the transcendence I have been reaching for; the perspective I have worked hard to achieve.

(I remember a scene from the great 70's TV show, Kung Fu. Young Kwai Chang, the student, was meditating and he reached the state that is a goal of meditation: total transcendence. The feeling was a shock and the young man jumped up, sweating and horrified. When he described what he had felt to Master Po, the master smiled and simply said, "Congratulations, Grasshopper." The boy had found Tao, and it had been a true shock.)

No. I think I'll embrace this. Maybe I have reached someplace good. So many things that seem so important to so many others have become so unimportant to me: pride, wealth, networking; legions of "friends" to bolster one's reputation; professional power and status, etc.

Has anyone ever been labeled as insane for taking out the trash? So much of what we feel is trash, isn't it? Maybe I have finally learned to toss these things away. Still, it does feel a little odd to throw away those things to which others seem to cling so tightly, as if they were the very fuel of life.

That part, they never warn you about. Even at the age of forty-four, it takes some getting used to, this being different thing.

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